SC Music History Project

Over 300 years after our church’s celebrated birth date, its history has been well documented and published, but there has been one overlooked aspect…music! It may seem difficult to accept, considering the importance of music in the life of any Christian Church. The South Church Music History Project, seeks to correct that focusing on our Sacred Music History.

Many questions come to mind, including:  How did the early Puritans view the inclusion of music in the early Church? Who was the first person to play the organ during a worship service at South Church?  What type of music was acceptable for inclusion during a worship service in 1825? Who were the music leaders during those 302 years?  And where did they come from? When were musical instruments first utilized during worship services, and what instruments were used? How was the tradition of “lining out” practiced in the 18th century at South Church? What hymnals were used over the years, and why were they chosen?  Why was there no volunteer choir in 1930, and why did the Music Committee refuse to consider having a volunteer choir?  Why did rationing, during World War II, cause serious damage to the South Church organ?  For what reason would members of the South Parish Union Singing Society be fined 12 cents in 1820?

We’ve been fortunate to have excellent guidance from historians at the Andover Historical Society, Congregational Church Library, the Archivist at Phillips Academy and other researchers near and far.  Did you know that some very famous organists have played the South Church organ?  Names such as Joseph Bonnet of Paris, Pietro Allesandro Yon of New York, Joseph Duprie of Paris and even a blind organist from Edinburgh named Alfred Hollins! Our South Church music history timeline can be found here.

How you can help
We hope and believe that there is more information to be gathered;  not from a research center,  or a book, but from someone  with a family history.  It could come from someone as near as Andover or as far away as we can imagine.

We ask anyone who has personal knowledge of early music history at South Church to contact us and let us know what you have.  You may be the descendant of a former Church member, or of an organist, Director of Music, Singer, or Instrumentalist, who has a proud story to tell, and which should be included in any comprehensive history. Or, maybe you are connected to a friend or neighbor who may be interested in our work!  Spread the word!

The years for which the need for information is most critical are 1711 to 1820, and 1871 to 1900.

However, any information may prove helpful.   Please do not hesitate to contact us.  The best way to us is via email.

Please address correspondence to:
Ron Smith
South Church Music Project
41 Central St
Andover, MA 01810

Phone: 978 475-0321

NOTE: All artifacts photographed and represented in the images on this web site are from the collections of the Andover Historical Society and South Church in Andover. Thank you in advance for your support!

Ron Smith, Researcher