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"A Discourse Preached At Heath, Feb. 21, 1816 As A Musical Lecture"

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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At about the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), a new style of sacred music developed in rural English parishes and American churches. In New England, composers like William Billings and Jeremiah Ingalls experimented with rich harmonies in which the male tenor sang the melody, or "air." Itinerant singing school masters and tunesmiths traveled through the countryside, teaching the new style to an eager young generation. The Reverend Samuel Willard (1776-1859) of Deerfield, Massachusetts, was a talented musician who believed in the power of sacred music to inspire and intensify religious feeling. He urged in this sermon delivered in 1816 that congregations identify and nurture those "qualified to perform this service in an impressive and edifying manner." Willard declared that parents and communities needed to understand that educating children "capable of attaining the art" was "an indispensable part of education; no more to be omitted, than arithmetic or writing."


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