Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
Jacksonian Miscellanies is a weekly email newsletter which presents short documents from the United States' Jackson Era, with a minimum of commentary. Anyone can receive it for free by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org a message with
as either the subject line, or as the *only* line in the message body. If you want to make a comment or query, please send a separate message to email@example.com.
Jacksonian Miscellanies can also be read at http://www.panix.com/~hal/jmisc. The WWW version is augmented with much biographical, bibliographical, and other information information.
Please direct responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, even though you may receive Jacksonian Miscellanies by way of a mailing list. That way I am more certain to read them, and perhaps, with your permission, post useful excerpts in a later issue.
By 1800, New England's Congregationalist churches had roughly split into: an orthodox, still strictly Calvinist, wing; and a liberal wing, especially strong around Boston. The liberals had been strongly influenced by enlightenment ideas, and would soon give rise to the Unitarian Association. Two major events that mark this separation are: the ascendency, in 1805, of Henry Ware (senior), a liberal to the Professorship of Divinity at Harvard, after which Harvard was seen as a unitarian stronghold, and the founding, in 1825, of the Unitarian Association, which made an institution out of the movement.
The first piece, "Lord I am Vile", is from Watts Select, p133. Watts was a famous old hymnal which, though tending away from Calvinism in some ways, still reflects the Calvinist viewpoint that man is innately depraved, that no one "deserves" salvation, but that God has pre-selected some people to save.
LORD I AM VILE
1] Lord I am vile, conceiv'd in sin
and born unholy and unclean;
sprung from the man, whose guilty fall
Corrupts the race, and taints us all.
2] Soon as we draw our infant breath,
The seeds of sin grow up for death;
Thy law demands a perfect heart,
But we're defil'd in every part.
3] Great God, create my heart anew,
And form my spirit pure and true;
O make me wise betimes to spy
My danger and my remedy.
4] Behold I fall before thy face;
My only refuge is thy grace:
No outward forms can make me clean;
The leprosy lies deep within.
5] No bleeding bird, nor bleeding beast,
Nor hyssop branch, nor sprinking priest,
Nor running brook, nor flood, nor sea,
Can wash the dismal stain away.
6] Jesus, my God, thy blood alone
Hath power sufficient to atone:
Thy blood can make me white as snow;
No Jewish types can cleanse me so.
7] While guilt disturbs and breaks my peace,
Nor flesh nor soul hath rest or ease,
--Lord, let me hear thy pard'ning voice,
And make my broken bones rejoice.
The second piece, called "Morning Hymn", is found in on p159, vol 3, of Specimens of American Poetry ... [ed.] by Samuel Kettell, originally published in Boston in 1828, and reissued in 1967 by Benjamin Blom, New York.
The writer, Levi Frisbie (1784-1822), was part of what was, in the early 1800s, the Unitarian establishment of Boston and Harvard University, in particular, and was Professor of Moral Philosophy when Ralph Waldo Emerson was at Harvard. Never a minister, he had studied for the law, but abandoned this because of his blinding eye disorder, becoming Latin Tutor, then Latin Professor at Harvard before attaining the Professorship of Moral Philosophy, which he had from 1817-22.
"Morning Hymn" may never have been sung as a hymn by any congregation, but is probably representative of how those liberal Congregationalists, who would soon join the Unitarian Association (see Edgell, Channing), thought.
While nature welcomes in the day,
My heart its earliest vows would pay
To him whose care hath kindly kept
My life from danger while I slept.
His genial rays the sun renews;
How bright the scene with glittering dews!
The blushing flowers more beauteous bloom,
And breathe more rich their sweet perfume.
So may the Sun* of righteousness
With kindliest beams my bosom bless,
Warm into life each heavenly seed,
To bud and bear some generous deed.
So may the dews of grace distil
And gently soften all my will,
So may my morning sacrifice
To heaven a grateful incense rise.
Wilt Thou this day my footsteps guide,
And kindly all I need provide,
With strength divine my bosom arm
Against temptation's powerful charm.
Where'er I am, oh may I feel
That God is all around me still,
That all I say, or do, or mean;
By his all-searching eye is seen.
Oh may each day my heart improve,
Increase my faith, my hope, my love,
And thus its shades around me close
More wise and holy than I rose.
*I suspect this capitalization of "sun" would have been viewed by some as blasphemy.
 What, if any, hymnals might a Unitarian, or Liberal Congregationalist church have used in the 1820s?
 How were the church services structured in either Orthodox Congregationalist (or Presbyterian for that matter) or liberal Congregationalist, and later Unitarian, churches? To what extent were hymns used? What accompanying music, if any, was used?
 Can anyone provide information of who used Watts Hymnal? its publication history?
 Why did the ultra-liberal form of Christianity, Unitarianism, and later Transcendentalism grow out of the originally Calvinistic Congregationalist churches?
From the title page of Watts Select:
The selection enlarged, and the indexes greatly improved,
Samuel M. Worcester, A.M.
Professor of Rhetoric in Amherst College, Mass.
Boston, published by Crocker and Brewster, 1856