The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

discussed, new combinations of notes tried, and especially new adaptations of language to tunes. The melodies of the sweet singer of Israel were released from the harsh bondage of Sternhold and Hopkins, and made to clothe the more harmonious measures of the minister, while the more lurid verses of the uncompromising Watts were rehashed or banished without compunction to meet the more generous interpretation of the Scriptures under a milder form of theology. The theology being settled, this did not trouble the twain, but to adapt the piety and beauty of Watts to the new conditions and new claims of musical science was a task requiring all the knowledge and all the skill of these earnest enthusiasts; and it was here that the Deerfield Collection of Sacred Music gradually took on substance and form. As the melody of music was in their hearts and voices, so the science of music was upon their lips; they talked earnestly and musefully by the light of the east window, the tallow candle or the pine knot, of octave and compass, of pitch and accent, of chords and triads and cadence, of points and counterpoints, of canons finite and canons infinite, of scale chromatic and diatonic, of sequence and modulation and transformation, even unto the weariness and confusion of the unlearned. Doubtless the big-bellied bass viol, made by Deacon Justin, and the pitch pipe he used, both now silently resting in Memorial Hall, could testify, if summoned, of all these things more fittingly and more musically than the unmusical muser of this hour.

It is natural to assume that Deacon Hitchcock inherited from the amateur builder of the bass viol his love of harmony; but this could not fail to be fostered by the example and influence of William Bull, the composer and publisher of a musical treatise, who lived next door to the house in which Charles was born and brought up. However this may be, when Charles in early manhood became intimately associated with Samuel Willard, the unshackled minister of free thought and free expression, a great opportunity was given him for cultivating and refining his strong native talent. The new friendship was harmonious and mutually helpful. The saintly Dr. Willard did not, indeed, dwell beneath this roof, but his hallowed voice seems on this occasion to echo from wall and ceiling, conjured up, it may be, by the subdued melody evoked by the skillful touch of his musically inspired granddaughter.

Meanwhile the warm-hearted oven and the cheerful fireplace, ignoring all ancient rivalry, clung together as fast friends under the same mantel-tree, while the great east window smiled serenely on both. Well and faithfully each of the three served in its own way those who understood their secrets and their power. Charles, the singer, had readily made friends with the musical fireplace, but he understood not the mysteries lying in the depths of the oven; they were unfathomable to him. When he had pondered for a time what he should do, he hied away to the hills beyond the valley to the home of the setting sun, even to the house of Isaac, surnamed Baker. Now Isaac had a comely daughter who had aforetime looked with favor upon the itinerant singing master, and after a short responsive wooing the twain became one. There were literally "no cards" for the wedding party. The venerable secretary of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, then a boy of ten, gave out the invitations verbally from door to door.

It was on a birthday of Washington three score and ten years agone, that the friends of Charles and Lois held high festival within these walls, and so was celebrated the advent of the bride and the new mistress, who then began a new life here with our three friends, and with the pantry of Bathsheba and Silence and Experience. These were all glad of her coming, especially the oven, which well

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This page was last updated on 11 Feb 2006