Hymns for Dedham
IntroductionPlans are underway for a "Rural Fair" to be held on 4 July 1846 in the town of Dedham, just outside Boston. Much work needs to be done for this event being organized by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. There are even special hymns for the occasion, with appropriate new words set to the tunes of old songs.
Selection from the Massachusetts Historical Society: Hymns, for the Rural Anti-Slavery Celebration, at Dedham, July 4, 1846.
Selection from the Library of Congress: Circular dated Boston, May 9, 1846 from the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
Questions to Consider
- Describe in your own words what the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's "RURAL FAIR" is supposed to be.
- State the core idea of the verses in the hymn "SPIRIT OF FREEDOM, WAKE!" in one sentence.
- What is the mission of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and why does this organization hold a fair on 4 July?
- According to the song, what has happened to the "spirit of freedom," and how did this happen?
- Who are Maria Weston Chapman and Eliza Lee Follen, and why do they write this circular (or letter) in May 1846?
- Why is singing part of an antislavery celebration, and why is this song set to the familiar tune of "America"?
- Who are the "Dear Friends," and what are they being asked to do?
- If you were singing this song at the antislavery celebration in 1846, what thoughts and emotions might you be experiencing, and why?
- How does this circular (from the Library of Congress collections) help you to understand the background of the hymn (from the Massachusetts Historical Society collections)?
- How does this hymn help you to understand the messages that the writers of the circular are trying to convey in the letter and at the antislavery fair?