Random Thoughts

What would the world be without  music

 ... an essay by my grandmother, submitted by John Averell

by Hattie Hoit Richardson


While going through a scrapbook that was originally put together by my father's mother, I came across this little essay written by her on June 5, 1891, just three days short of her nineteenth birthday. Harriet lived in Stoughton, Massachusetts, with her twin sister Sally and her other three sisters. Her family was active in the Universalist Church. She married Fred Gilbert Averell on June 8, 1903 and joined him in the Clarendon Baptist Church in Boston. She died the year I was born, so I never knew her.

What is the power of music over the people in the church? With the solemn dirge and the devotional song, even the weakest sinner feels the most profound respect in his heart. It casts over all, the feeling of worship and devotion which the church requires. As harmonious music of all kinds causes a contented and pleasing effect, so discordant music causes a distressing effect and anything but pleasant. As beautiful music commands silence and perfect attention, so discordant music produces a general stirring and a pained expression on the faces of its audience.

Why is it that the general idea we have of angels is that they play on harps? We think that music is a very acceptable way to show praise to God, and so we associate music with our idea of angelic worship.

Let us now consider the advantages and effect of good music. It has a refining and an elevating effect on mankind. If it did not have a marvelous power over the people, it would not be found everywhere, as it is. If such is the fact, might not all of us to know, in some degree, how to read and execute music? In order to do this, schools, even from the primary, should have this branch as a study. In this way, beginning gradually and paying great attention as far as we are able, we will be educated to recognize and appreciate good music when ever we hear it. Can we not appropriately say:

What would the world be without music?

March 5, 2004


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