Feast of George Frederick Root (August 5)   Leave a comment

US_flag_34_stars.svg

Above:  Flag of the United States of America, 1861-1863

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GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT (AUGUST 30, 1820-AUGUST 6, 1895)

Poet and Composer

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We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true, and brave,

Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom;

And altho’ they may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,

Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom.

The union forever,

Hurrah! boys, Hurrah!

Down with the traitor, up with the star;

While we rally round the flab boys, rally once again,

Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom.

–George Frederick Root

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George Frederick Root (1820-1895), born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, studied music in Boston.  He began to serve an assistant organist  at Winter Street Congregational Church and Park Street Congregational Church there at the age of nineteen.  In 1841, at the age of twenty, our saint began to teach music in the Boston public school system.  There he worked with Lowell Mason (1792-1872), the famous choir director and hymn tune composer who made a lasting contribution to generations of hymnals.

In 1844 Root moved to New York City, where, during the next fifteen years, he taught at Jacob Abbot’s Young Ladies’ School, Rutger’s Female Institute, Union Theological Seminary, and the New York Institute for the Blind.  At the last school he taught Fanny J. Crosby, whose songs I have learned to despise.  (Everyone is entitled to an opinion.)  Root also played the organ at Mercer Street Presbyterian Church, the administrative successor of which is First Presbyterian Church.

In 1859 Root moved to Chicago, where he joined his brother’s musical publishing firm, Root & Cady (1858-1872).  During the Civil War he composed words and music for many popular songs, such as The Battle-Cry of Freedom and just the music for others, such as The Vacant Chair.

Root composed a variety of music, from cantatas to hymn tunes.  He wrote the music for When He Cometh for a Unitarian minister who converted to the Wesleyan Methodist Church (now the Wesleyan Church) later.  The Second Coming of Jesus being the hymn’s theme and the text being based on a passage of Scripture, the parson was relatively orthodox.

Root died at his summer home on Bailey’s Island, Maine, in 1895, twenty-four days short of his eighty-fifth birthday.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DEDIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

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For Further Reading:

http://pdmusic.org/root-gf.html

http://www.poemhunter.com/george-frederick-root/

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servant George Frederick Root,

may persevere in the course that is set before us, and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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