[18th Century American choir music:] To the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the first Parish in the Town of Roxbury…1796. [opening lines of manuscript petition]
“They consider Singing as one of the most essential, as well as ornamental parts of Divine Worship…”
Document signed by ten members of the First Church in Roxbury, in Massachusetts, petitioning their fellow citizens and parishioners for funding to cover some of the expenses of church choirs. The petition was apparently drafted in Roxbury on March 9, 1796 and here presented at a “Parish meeting” held on April 22:
“…The petition of the subscribers, Freeholders and citizens of the said Parish, most respectfully sheweth That they consider Singing as one of the most essential, as well as ornamental parts of Divine Worship. That for the regular and orderly conducting of it, select Choirs have been found indispensably necessary. That these, from their local situations, and various circumstances, are at considerable expence of Time & Money, in order to qualify themselves to perform the parts assigned them in a right and acceptable manner in Public. That, however, the greater part who conduct the Singing in this Society, might revolt at the idea of receiving a pecuniary consideration for their services. Yet we conceive, if provision was made by the parish to defray their unavoidable expenses, it would have a very salutary effect.
Among the ten signers of the petition, seven are mentioned in the book History of the First Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1630-1904 (Boston, 1908), including tanner Simeon Pratt; tanner and member of the Governor’s Council, John Read; cordwainer Stephen Mansfield; and Samuel Langley, carpenter, housewright, and architect who was a founder of the Universalist Church.
An interesting document concerning the funding of choirs in Roxbury (now Boston) for religious worship. Eighteenth American documents specific to sacred choral music are rare to commerce.
Description: [18th Century American choir music:] To the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the first Parish in the Town of Roxbury…1796. [opening lines of manuscript petition]
[Town of Roxbury, Massachusetts, April 22, 1796]. p. Manuscript Petition. 12½ x 7¾ inches. Laid paper. The document is autographed by 10 signatories; some emendations to text. Contemporary docketing. Folds; short closed tears in margins at some folds with minor loss; scattered foxing; very good.