Feast of Henry Stephen Cutler (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  An Episcopal Priest with the Choir and the Altar Boys, Circa 1920

Photographer = Theodor Horydczak

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-H814-T-2897-x

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HENRY STEPHEN CUTLER (OCTOBER 13, 1824-DECEMBER 5, 1902)

Episcopal Organist, Choirmaster, and Composer

Henry Stephen Cutler comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody.  This post relies mainly on six hymnal companion volumes.

Above:  Henry Stephen Cutler

Image in the Public Domain

Cutler was one of the most influential yet subsequently obscure churchmen in The Episcopal Church and in the United States of America.  His legacy has remained commonplace, however.

Cutler was a musician.  He, born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 13, 1824, was a son of Richard Cutler and Martha Richardson Cutler.  Our saint studied music first in Boston.  His teachers included George Frederick Root (1820-1895) and Aaron Upjohn Hayter (1799-1873).  Hayter was the organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston.

Above:  Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a07836

Cutler spent 1844-1846 abroad, studying music.  He went first to Frankfurt, then a free city within the German Confederation.  From there he went to England.  In England, our saint became enamored of the Oxford Movement, English cathedral services, and liturgical correctness.

Above:  Grace Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

Cutler, back in Boston in 1846, went to work as a church musician.  He was the organist at Grace Episcopal Church, Boston, from 1846 to 1852.  Our saint experienced frustration, for he found little support for his liturgical ideals.

Above:  The Episcopal Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

However, Cutler found sufficient support for his liturgical ideals as the organist and choirmaster (1852-1858) at the Episcopal Church of the Advent, Boston.  In 1856, Cutler made history in the United States of America and The Episcopal Church.  He sat the choir in the chancel.  He also restricted choir membership to men and boys (liturgically correct, in his opinion) and vested that choir in cassocks and surplices.

Above:  Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, New York, New York, 1863

Photographer = George Stacy

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-51435

Cutler carried these practices to Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City, where he was the organist and choirmaster (1858-1865).  While there, he also introduced the full English cathedral service to the parish.  Our saint, a composer of 22 church anthems, published Trinity Psalter (1864) and Trinity Anthems (1865).  Columbia University awarded him the Mus.D. degree in 1864.  Our saint’s tenure at Trinity Church, Wall Street, ended in the middle of 1865.  The vestry was under the impression that he had left for a concert tour without asking them first.  Therefore, the vestry fired him.  Cutler’s successor was the great Arthur Henry Messiter (1834-1916).

Cutler continued to work as a church organist until 1885.  He served at the following churches, in order:

  1. St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, New York;
  2. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Providence, Rhode Island;
  3. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and
  4. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Troy, New York.

During this time, Cutler published Original Compositions for the Organ (1879) and married Ellen McNoah (in 1883).

Cutler retired to the Boston area in 1885.  Aged 78 years, our saint died at home, in Swansport, Massachusetts, on December 5, 1902.

Cutler composed at least five hymn tunes:

  1. ALL SAINTS NEW,
  2. ST. JOHN,
  3. INVITATION,
  4. HOSANNA TO DAVID’S SON, and
  5. OUR CHRISTMAS TREE.

Above:  “The Son of God Goes Forth to War,” from the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917)

Perhaps you, O reader, will think of Cutler whenever you process as part of a vested choir, see a vested choir, see a choir seated in the chancel, or sing “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Henry Stephen Cutler)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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