Music History Timeline

Note: “Interesting” occurrences in the history of the United States are inserted in parentheses. This enhances our appreciation for the dynamics of history both outside and inside of South Church.  Quotes during the years 1820 – 1871 come from the hand- written journal of the South Parish Union Singing Society.


1710 – First South Church meeting house is occupied for worship, and Samuel Phillips begins preaching there.

1711 – October 17th, Samuel Phillips is ordained.  South Parish Church begins its ministry. Congregational singing by lining out the Psalms is practiced during worship services.  John Abbot and William Lovejoy are named Deacons, hence likely leaders for the Congregational singing.   Likely hymnal utilized for lining out the Psalms was The Bay Psalm Book, which was printed by Stephen Daye, in Cambridge, MA.

1713 – The first organ to be played during a worship service in the New England colonies, the Brattle Organ, is installed and used at King’s Chapel, in Boston.

1732 – Parish votes to build a new meeting house.

1734 – First public worship in the 2nd meeting house.

1769 – South Parish fails to pass a motion to use Tate & Brady or Dr. Watts’ Psalms as hymnals for Congregational singing in Worship services.

(1770) – (Boston Massacre)

1772 – South Parish votes to sing from the book, Watt’s Psalms and Hymns, during Worship services, for three months only.  They like it and continue to use it for at least 87 years, until 1859.

(1773) – (Boston Tea Party)

(1776) – (Declaration of Independence drafted.)

1778 – Phillips Academy is founded in Andover.  (Benjamin?) Ames is leader of the congregational singing at South Parish Church.

1779 – Parish votes to build a seat in the meeting house to “accommodate” public singing.  This is likely done to seat a Singing School group that would serve as the first choir at South Parish Church.

1780 – A petition is presented to the South Parish to bring to a vote whether or not to allow “seats for the Singing School”.  No record of any action taken on this petition.

(1781) – (Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown.)

1782 – South Parish fails to allow seating of the Singing School in the meeting house.

1788 – South Parish votes to build its third meeting house, “near” the site of the old one.  During construction South Parish meets for worship in the “Hall” at Phillips Academy.  First worship in 3rd meeting house is on 7 December.

1790 – Estimated date that Congregational singing by lining out the Psalms ends in South Parish.

1794 – Singing of Psalms by line is no longer used DURING COMMUNION at South Parish.

1800 – South Parish dismisses the men who were leading the singing in worship, “chose Henry Dane, with Benjamin Abbot as his assistant”, to replace them.  Hermon Abbot was appointed by South Parish to use a “Bass-Viol” during worship services.

(1804) – (Lewis and Clark expedition departs from St. Louis.)

1805 – First appropriation by South Parish for music.  A small sum was given for the expenses of the “bass-viol”.

1808 – Andover Seminary is founded in Andover.

1809 – South Parish has a “Music Society” which petitioned the Parish for financial aid.  This was promised by the Parish, but never provided.

1812 – Samuel Abbot gives a clock to the South Parish, for use in the meeting house.  At the newly formed Andover Seminary the Lockhart Society was organized.  It was a volunteer association whose purpose was to improve Sacred Music at the Seminary.

(1814) – (Francis Scott Key writes The Star Spangled Banner.)

1818 – South Parish assessors begin to allot money for the “singers”, via the Andover South Parish Musical Society.  Fear by the Parish was that the “singers would leave their seats.”   (Meaning, that they would quit.)

1820 – The South Parish Union Singing Society is created at the home of Thomas Holt, “for the promotion of Sacred Music in South Parish”.  Abraham Gould, Daniel Poor and Nathan Townsend write its Constitution , which was read and approved on October 23rd.  Names of those who approved the Constitution and became the first members:  Abraham J. Gould, Daniel Poor, Nathan Townsend, Ralph H. Chandler, David S. Pearson, Joseph Cummings, Thomas Holt, Joseph Chandler, Daniel Foster 3rd, and Benjamin Abbot 4th.  New members are to be received and admitted by 3/4 of the votes of the existing Singing Society members.   First “President”, hence first “Society” leader of the singing in worship, was Abraham Gould.  At its inception the Singing Society had 6 copies of the music book, The Village Harmony, and one “bass viol”.  Thomas Holt was thanked by the Union Singing Society for his “services on the viol”.

1822 – South Parish Union Singing Society purchases “six copies of the Bridgewater Collection, 10th edition”.  This was a music book that they would use in rehearsals and worship services.  David Poor sold his “tenor viol”, which netted enough money to buy six more copies of the Bridgewater Collection.

1823 – Both Hermon Abbot and Thomas Holt played the bass viol during worship this year.  Timothy Flagg and Abraham Gould print the hymn book “Harmonia Sacra” at their printing shop in Andover, and give 12 copies to the Union Singing Society.  Voted by the Union Singing Society that the person who will play the Bass viol during worship services be chosen annually by a vote of theSociety.  Hermon Griffin is first bass viol player voted to play.

1825 – Mr. E. Childs, of the Andover Theological Seminary, teaches a singing school.  The “best” eighteen singers , at the conclusion of the school, were invited to “sit” with the Union Singing Society singers during worship “on the Sabbath”.

(1825) – (The Erie Canal is opened.)

1826 – The Union Singing Society purchases 24 copies of the Handel and Haydn Collection 3rd Edition for use by the society during rehearsals and worship services.  The Parish is now appropriating an annual sum for the support of the Singing Society.

1829 – South Parish votes to hire a music teacher named Mr. Jewett, to meet with the “Society” for six evenings of musical instruction.  He will be paid $12 for his six nights of instruction.  The Singing Society votes to hire a flute player.  South Parish votes to “appropriate”  $50 for use by the Singing Society in 1830.

1830 – The Singing Society votes to purchase a flute for use during worship.  Instruments used now in South Parish worship are “small viol, double bass, and flutes”.  All instrumentalists continue to be chosen by annual vote of the society.  The society also votes to purchase music:  Dyer’s Selection of Choruses, and to set up a singing school.  A Librarian was needed to manage the printed music and musical instruments that were becoming the property of the Singing Society.  The Constitution of the Union Singing Society  was changed to create this position.

1832 – 15 copies of The National Harmony are purchased by the Singing Society, which also creates a committee to decide what changes should be made in the “singing room”. The Singing Society creates another committee to choose books that could be used by the Society.

1833 – The Union Singing Society votes to meet every week for “improvement in singing”.  Instruments used by the society, in Worship, are a double bass, a bass viol, and two flutes.  For the first time a bassoon player was invited to play, also.  Again, all instrumentalists are voted to their positions, annually, by the Singing Society.               The 11th amendment to the States’ Constitution was ratified by the legislature.  It officially separated the Parish and Town for the first time. The main effect on the music program was funding.  The town would no longer provide money to the Parish.

1835 – The first organ is installed in the meeting house of South Parish, an E.&G.G. Hook’s Opus 15.  It is purchased by “subscription”, at a cost of $800.  Nathaniel Bowen Cooke, a student at Phillips Academy, becomes the first person to be paid for playing the organ during worship services at South Parish Church.

(1836) – (Battle of the Alamo ends)

1836 – The Parish votes to purchase the new organ (from the subscribers), and to pay someone for blowing it, using money from the Singing Society’s treasury.  The Singing Society purchases 18 copies  of the thanksgiving Anthem, “I Will Extol Thee“.

1837 – The Parish appropriates $100 for the singers.   The Singing Society votes to purchase 18 copies of the book, The Ancient Lyre.                                                   Organists are Richard Morse and Esther M. Gould.

1838 – Eliza Frye resigns as “first singer of the treble” (ie: first soprano).  She is replaced by Miss Leruiah E. Gould. The Singing Society votes to purchase 4 chandeliers to hang over the singing seats in the meeting house.  Organist is Esther M. Gould.

1839 – Singing Society votes to purchase 6 copies of The Ancient Lyre.   South Parish votes $100 for use of the singers.

1841 – Elizabeth Cummings becomes organist at South Parish Church, beginning a six year tenure.

1848 – Margaret Blanchard begins a six year tenure as organist.

1849 – The Singing Society purchases 24 copies of The Mendelssohn Collection music books, for use in rehearsals and during Worship services.

1850 – Albert Abbot, President of the Singing Society, is asked to evaluate a piano that was offered to them, and decide if it is worth purchasing for 65 dollars and 82 cents, or less, which was the total balance left in the Society’s treasury.  Mr. Abbot reported, later, that the piano wasn’t as good as they thought, so it was returned.

1851 – The size of the singing group is increasing… was voted that the society President, Deacon Albert Abbot, purchase 31 copies of “Watts and Select Hymn Books“, containing the Supplement.

1853 – Voted at the annual meeting of the Singing Society, that the President, Vice-President, and Secretary serve as a committee to purchase a piano for the society to use.

1854 – The Singing Society purchases 30 copies of  “Hallelujah” for the use of the “choir”.

1860 – The fourth, and current, South Parish meeting house is erected.  Abbot and Clement, contractors.

1861 – South Parish dedicates its fourth, and current, meeting house.

(1861) – (Firing on Fort Sumter marks the beginning of the Civil War.)

1865 – A “Large and Valuable” organ is offered to South Parish Church.  Pledges and collections are made to fund its purchase.  55 members pledge amounts ranging from $5 to $300.  Total pledged was $1715.  There is no record indicating that this organ was ever acquired.

(1865) – (Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.)

1868 – The Union Singing Society votes to thank Abraham Gould for his 24 years of service as President of the Singing Society, and leader of the singing.  South Parish grants $165 to the Singing Society for the year 1868.   Of this, $132 was paid to B.R. Downs and Lilla Abbott for playing the organ.  Cost of blowing the organ for the year was $12.

1870 – Lilla Abbot was paid $200 for playing the organ during the year.

1871 – The President and Vice-President of the Union Singing Society resign suddently. “After lengthy discussion it was decided to disband the Society and turn all records and property over to the Parish.”  So ended the South Parish Union Singing Society, on February 20, 1871, after 51 years of providing musical service to the South Parish Church.

(1871) – (Great Chicago fire.)

(1876) – (Battle of Little Bighorn, and 100th Birthday of the United States.)

1877 – Electric lights are installed in the current meeting house at South Parish.

1883 – Two organ companies are consulted to determine the future of the current  organ…..should it be repaired or replaced?   Both Hook and Hastings, and Hutchings and Plaisted agree that the organ should be replaced.  Consideration is given to placing the new organ in the front of the Church, behind the pulpit, rather than in the choir loft, in the back.  The choir loft was eventually chosen because it was less expensive to install the organ there, and the accoustics were considered to be superior at that location.

1885 – The new organ is installed in the meeting house at South Parish, a Hook & Hastings Opus 1259.   Cost is $2855 less $350 trade-in for the old organ.

(1886) – (Statue of Liberty is dedicated.)

1889 – New pews are installed in the current meeting house.

1898 – Typical Sabbath worship schedule at South Parish Church is:  Morning worship at 10:30AM;  Afternoon worship at 3PM;  and evening worship at 7:30PM.

1900 – Fire damages the basement areas of the current meeting house.

1902 – A special gift of 100 copies of the “Endeavor Hymnal” is made to the South Parish Congregation, for use during worship.  It is first used at the Sunday evening service on 30 November.  Note that the Church had no volunteer choir in 1902.  Rather, paid quartets, or “double” quartets provided the music.

1903 – The present steeple bell is installed in the current meeting house.                Organist is Miss Maude Marion Cole.  An appeal is made in early February for volunteers to form a “chorus choir”.  This group did form, did rehearse on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, and sang at the Sunday evening worship services.  Meanwhile, paid soloists, quartets, and double quartets continued to sing during the Sunday morning services.

(1903) – ( Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, NC )

1904 – A volunteer choir rehearses on Monday evenings and sings during the Sunday morning worship services.   For the Sunday evening services music was provided by paid soloists.

1905 – A music committee was created, which hired Miss Elizabeth Hoar, a public school music teacher, to be the choir director, for a salary of $5 per week.   Mrs. Mary Ripley  gives a pledge of $200 per year, for the next three years, for support of the music in the Church.

(1906) – (San Francisco earthquake.)

1911 –  South Parish Church celebrates its 200th Anniversary.  According to an advertisement in the Andover Townsman :  South Parish Church had a choir, which rehearsed on Thursday evenings;  Sunday Worship service was at 10:30 in the morning; and a “Musical Praise”  service was held at 7:30 on Sunday evenings.