|Composer:||Lowell Mason (1830)|
|Incipit:||17655 56166 53221|
Lowell Mason (b. Medfield, MA, 1792; d. Orange, NJ, 1872) composed WESLEY for Thomas Hastings's (PHH 538) "Hail to the Brightness of Zion's Glad Morning," and the two were published together in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1833). The tune name honors the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. WESLEY consists of four lines–the first and third beginning identically, and the fourth providing a suitable climax to the melody. Sing this jubilant tune with lots of energy.
As a child Mason learned to play every musical instrument available to him. He bought music books and attended a singing school when he was thirteen, and soon began teaching singing schools and directing a church choir. In 1812 he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he helped to establish the firm Stebbins and Mason, which sold musical instruments in addition to dry goods. Mason also adapted, composed, and harmonized tunes for The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music (1821). This collection was widely used and resulted in public demand for Mason to lead the music at singing schools, concerts, and Sunday school conventions.
He moved to Boston in 1827 to become the music director in three churches; later he became the choir director of the Bowdoin Street Church. In 1833 Mason helped to found the Boston Academy of Music, which was instrumental in introducing music education to the Boston public schools in 1838. An advocate of Pestalozzi's educational principles (an inductive teaching method), Mason frequently lectured in England and the United States. A major force in musical education in the United States and in the promotion of European models of church music (as opposed to the southern folk-hymn tradition), Mason also encouraged the change from exclusive psalm singing to the singing of hymns in the churches.
In association with Thomas Hastings (PHH 538), George Webb (PHH 559), and others, Mason compiled some eighty hymnals and collections, including The Juvenile Psalmist (1829), Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1832), and, most importantly, Carmina Sacra (1841, revised 1852). Mason composed over eleven hundred original hymn tunes and arranged another five hundred, mainly from European sources. He derived most of his tune names from the Old Testament.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988