Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I'm grateful for my Dad's New Englander family.  While on the one
hand I have some brick walls, on the other hand, I have other ancestors
and relatves who are mentioned in many of the town histories. Even
better, through the wonders of Google, I can read those histories
online for free.

Tonight I was Googling the name of my 9x great grandfather Benjamin
Rockwood and found this story that mentions a Benjamin Rockwood,
Jr. The date would be about right for him to be the son of my Benjamin.
The story is from The History of  Medway, Massachusetts, 1713-1885 
edited by Ephraim Orcutt Jameson and discusses a subject I hadn't
really thought about before: how our New England ancestors sang hymns:.

Our fathers had their church troubles as well as those living now. Take for
example, the matter of singing in the early days. It often was at the greatest
remove from harmony.

The Old Way Of Singing was for the chorister to start the tune with the
pitch-pipe, the congregation to follow each in his own fashion at his own 

tune, and no two persons singing alike, but singing with all their might, 
"like the voice of many waters."

The Westerly Precinct of Wrentham, now Franklin, June 26, 1738, voted,

"To sing no other Tunes than are Pricked Down in our former Psalm Books
which were Printed between thirty and forty years Agoe and To Sing Them
as They are Prickt down in them as Near as they can."

This was a blow at the old way of singing, and March 8, 1739, that church 

voted not to sing in the old way: and near the close of that meeting the query 
was raised: "To see what notice the church will take of one of the brethren's 
striking into a pitch of the tune unusualy raised, Februarv 18, 1739."

And it was voted,

'Whereas, our brother David Pond, as several of our brethren viz.: David 

Jones, Ebenczer Hunting, Benjamin Rockwood Jr., Aaron Haws and Michael 
Metcalf apprehends, struck into a pitch of the tune on Feb. 18, in public 
worship on the forenoon raised above what was set, after most of the 
Congregation as is thought, kept the pitch for three lines and after our
Pastor had desired them that had raised it to fall to the pitch that was set 
to be suitable, decent or to that purpose.

"The question was put, whether the church apprehends this our brother 

David Pond's so doing to be disorderly, and it passed in the affirmative
and David Pond is suspended until satisfaction is given."

David Pond afterwards applied to the Church of Christ, in Medway,

for admission. Letters, which well illustrate the characteristics of the 
times, were exchanged by the two churches in regard to the case of 
Mr. Pond. It has been suggested that because of his uncommon height 
and muscular strength he pitched the tune too high. Whether this, or
because of willfulness, others must determine ; at any rate he was
excommunicated from the church, but some years after made 
confession of fault, was restored to good standing, and became one 
of the founders of the Second Church of Christ, in Medway.(p 107)

So basically, poor David Pond was a big strong guy, but he was
excommunicated because he couldn't carry a tune!

1 comment:

Heather Rojo said...

Wow, he must be a cousin of mine because everyone moves away from me at church, I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I end up mouthing the words.