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The Reverend Samuel Willard became the minister of the First Church of Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1807. A Unitarian, Willard rejected the doctrines of the total depravity of humanity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. A dismayed minority left the Deerfield Church and area ministers at first refused to ordain Willard. The Reverend Samuel Willard was a musician and composer as well as a minister. He emphasized throughout his career the role and power of sacred music in religious services and meditation. The many hymns he composed reflected the optimistic spirit of the age that humankind could perfect the world with the help of a loving and compassionate God. Reverend Willard gradually lost his sight and was totally blind by 1824. He retired from his Deerfield ministry in 1829 when he felt he could no longer perform his pastoral obligations.