Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lorena - the song

This is considered the most popular song in both North and South during the War years of the 1860s. Its connections here? It was written by Universalist minister Henry Lafayette Webster. Toward the end of Rev Webster's life, he would winter and preach at the Universalist Church in Tarpon Springs.

He was born August 29, 1824 in Oneida County, New York. In those days Oneida County was full of Universalists - He attended the Columbian Institute. He begain preaching in 146, ordained in 1848, serving Paris, New York. He moved to Zanesville Ohio in the Fall of 1848, which is where he met Martha Ellen Blockson "Ella" (1828-1917), who was "small of statue, blue eyes and light blond hair, a sweet singer" and member of the Universalist Church choir. He would walk her home, and they became engaged. The engagment ended in May 1849, at the strong encouragement of her family.

He moved from Zanesville, became a medical doctor - met a song composer and they had Lorena published in 1857. After serving as an Army psychian during the war, he return to the ministry in 1863 - serving until his retirement in 1890 and his death on November 4, 1896.

He married twice, and at his death was survived by three children -- and of course by a lingering haunting song of a long-ago love.


The years creep slowly by, Lorena
The snow is on the grass again
The sun's low down the sky, Lorena
The frost gleams where the flowers have been
But the heart throbs on as warmly now
As when the summer days were nigh
Oh, the sun can never dip so low
A-down affection's cloudless sky.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena
Since last I held that hand in mine
And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena
Though mine beat faster far than thine
A hundred months...'twas flowery May
When up the hilly slope we climbed
To watch the dying of the day
And hear the distant church bells chime.

We loved each other then, Lorena
More than we ever dared to tell
And what we might have been, Lorena
Had but our loving prospered well
But then, 'tis past, the years have gone
I'll not call up their shadowy forms
I'll say to them, "Lost years, sleep on
Sleep on, nor heed life's pelting storms."

The story of the past, Lorena
Alas! I care not to repeat
The hopes that could not last, Lorena
They lived, but only lived to cheat
I would not cause e'en one regret
To rankle in your bosom now
"For if we try we may forget"
Were words of thine long years ago.

Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena
They are within my memory yet
They touched some tender chords, Lorena
Which thrill and tremble with regret
'Twas not the woman's heart which spoke
Thy heart was always true to me
A duty stern and piercing broke
The tie which linked my soul with thee.

It matters little now, Lorena
The past is in the eternal past
Our hearts will soon lie low, Lorena
Life's tide is ebbing out so fast
There is a future, oh, thank God!
Of life this is so small a part
'Tis dust to dust beneath the sod
But there, up there, 'tis heart to heart.

revisied November 27, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dolphus Skinner in Richmond 1837-1838

Dolphus Skinner (1800-1869)
was an Universalist minister and publisher most associated with Utica, New York.
the above link will take you to a biographical summary -which also states that
"Skinner frequently traveled south in hopes of repairing his health. He stayed in Richmond, Virginia for about half a year in the winter of 1837-38. While there he preached to the Richmond Society."

Skinner himself says
"Return from the South.
"After an absence of between seven and eight months, we again find ourselves, together with our family, within our own quiet domicil (sic) in Utica, and by the blessing of Divine Providence, in the enjoyment of general health. The same benignant Parent of all, who is over all and with all, who watches over all for good, in their out-goings and in-comings, their up-risings and down-sittings, in their travels by land and by water, their sojourn at a distance or their abiding at home, has been with us and the many friends we left behind. The same eye has looked upon, the same potent arm has protected, and the same munificent hand has supplied the wants of all, and to him be all the praise."
"We had two principal motives for our sojourn at the South, during the Winter: the one was, to supply the preaching of the word of life, the First Independent Christian church in Richmond, Va, which had long been destitute and sin a somewhat of a languishing condition for the want of a pastor. The citizens of Richmond, generally, appeared to have learned comparatively little of ur distinguishing sentiments, though we found a few very warm-hearted and devoted friends, who cordially took us by the hand, and co-operated with us in efforts to diffuse more generally our glorious views of the Divine character and government, and the ultimate destiny of our race. Though Superstition frowned upon, and Bigotry denounced us and the doctrine of a world's salvation, yet our meetings were usually well attended, by a very respectable class of citizens, and continued to increase steadily as long as we stayed. And we sincerely hope that they will continue to increase under the labors of our young and highly esteemed Br. Chapin, who succeeds us for a season in that place. Richmond, as the capital of the State and the largest city in the Old Dominion, is an important place, and should not be neglected - the truth should there especially be preached faithfully, fully, and constantly; and if so preached, we doubt not its fruits will be an hundred fold.
Another object in spending the Winter at the South, was to avoid the extreme severity of climate which the inhabitants of this Northern region have for several years past experienced. By a location in a milder region, we hoped to recover from a severe affection and chronic soreness of the throat, or passages leading to the lungs... We were not as successful in obtaining the last object as we hoped to be; for although our general health has been, for the most of the time, very good, and we were able to preach regularly every Sabbath... the difficulty is not removed, nor are we certain that it is in the least mitigated. ..."
thus we add Rev Skinner as the minister in Richmond for circa October 1837 to May 1838, when Br. Chapin took over suppling the pulpit there.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"new" arrivals

I've been in Massachusetts attending the Universalist Convocation, held this year at the historic and former Universalist / UUA owned, now private Clara Barton homestead and Barton Center in North Oxford.
A field trip for us history buffs including visiting the former Church in Oxford Ma, where Hosea Ballou was ordained by (former SC resident) Elehanan Winchester.
I took a side trip to Boston and visited the UUA headquarters and saw a former Universalist HQ.
also a side trip to Gloucester.
while in Boston, I picked up the two volume set of HISTORY OF UNIVERSALISM by Richard Eddy for $25. this is the classic early history. One volume is available on google books, but for us old folks, there is just something about reading paper... I see the early guys in Kentucky are quoted... Waiting for me in the mail were some issuess of Utica NY's Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate of the 1830s. Including an article by "D.S." about his short stay preaching in Richmond Virginia. It's hard to know where to start reading first!