ReligionChanges in religious life paralleled the changes in family life. Between 1776 and 1820 American religion changed from a hierarchically-run to a participant-run activity with revivals and competition among denominations. The Puritans' inscrutable, angry God was replaced by a loving, comforting Jesus. The sacred songs of the time reflect these changes as they address human emotion rather than religious doctrine. The Concordia, compiled by the Reverend Augustus Dameron Fillmore (1823-1870), contains several excellent examples of this shift.
In The Concordia, Fillmore offers several of his own rustic musical compositions that suggest a self-taught evangelistic musician rather than a polished musical academician. He provided musical settings for both well-known hymn texts and his own original poems. Among his own more bucolic and individualistic musical settings, he also included numerous relatively refined pieces such as "Ives."
The Concordia is also an excellent example of early hymnals which included musical notation. This was a departure from hymnals of the period which only gave the lyrics and meters. Fillmore’s hymnals actually notated the music so the words and music were together in the form that is now most widely used. Although he was probably not the first to do this, this feature certainly helped popularize his hymnals.
Recordings and Sheet Music
Firmament, by the Reverend Augustus Dameron Fillmore; from The Concordia, compiled by Fillmore (Cincinnati, 1865).
The influence of Enlightenment ideas can be seen in this song as the natural world and the spiritual world are portrayed as in essential agreement, and "God’s handiwork" demonstrates His rationality and benevolence.
Blessed Bible,by the Reverend Augustus Dameron Fillmore; from The Concordia, compiled by Fillmore (Cincinnati, 1865).
"Good cheer" from the Bible forms the song’s main theme. In this song, the Bible can speak directly to the individual, rather than through a church hierarchy.
Henry,by the Reverend Augustus Dameron Fillmore; from The Concordia, compiled by Fillmore (Cincinnati, 1865).
"Henry" reflects the teaching that the individual can approach God directly. Although not credited, the words are by Charlotte Elliott, who wrote them in 1835 (although it is unknown who wrote the last verse).
Ohio,by the Reverend Augustus Dameron Fillmore; from The Concordia, compiled by Fillmore (Cincinnati, 1865).
The lyrics for this song are the English translation of "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" ("Silent Night! Holy Night!") by Fr. Joseph Mohr, which he wrote in 1816.
Ives,by Elam Ives, Jr.; from The Concordia, compiled by the Reverand Augustus Dameron Fillmore (Cincinnati, 1865).
In this song, Jesus shares many of the qualities associated with home. He is a "refuge" from "the storm of life," a "support and comfort" while "the tempest still is high." The composer, Elam Ives, Jr. (1802-1864), was associated with Lowell Mason, with whom he issued The Juvenile Lyre (Boston, 1831). The words for this song were by Charles Wesley from his Hymns and Sacred Poems, first published in 1740.
Sweet Home,by Henry Rowley Bishop, with words by John Howard Payne (Cincinnati, 1852).
"Sweet Home" associates Jesus with the comfort of home. The song comes from a German-American tunebook Deutsches Choralbuch (Cincinnati, 1852). The original tune was composed by an Englishman, Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855), for his opera Clari, the Maid of Milan, of 1821, and the familiar words were added in 1823 by the American author and actor John Howard Payne (1792-1852).
Learn More About It
"Hymnals of the Stone-Campbell Movement External" (Enos E. Dowling Hymnal Collection, Jessie C. Eury Library, Lincoln Christian College and Seminary)