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Doctor Tucker, Priest-Musician:
A Sketch which Concerns the Doings and Thinkings of
the Rev. John Ireland Tucker, S.T.D.
Including a Brief Converse about the Rise and Progress of Church Music in America.

By Christopher W. Knauff, M.A.

New York: A.D.F. Randolph, 1897.

Chapter VI. The Beginnings at Troy

After the beneficent career had been finished, and after it had become evident to all that the recent incumbent had transformed a position--which most men would call obscure--into a shining centre of powerful influence, then the question was asked, "Who made this nomination? Who suggested the name of John I. Tucker to the patron at Troy? "

The late Bishop Coxe claimed the honor for himself. In the conversation already referred to, the Bishop of Western New York remarked: "I got him his place in Troy. They (the Troy people) said to me, 'Now we have this building, and everything prepared, what shall we do to get the most important part--to find the man to work in it? 'I have the man for you," said the Bishop; and he told the story about his friend, enlarging upon his manifold virtues and capabilities.

"A few years later," continued Bishop Coxe, "I went up to Troy. There was the young man of society, the pet of fashion, the brilliant centre of its circles, recently devoted to its endless whirl of gaiety, now standing before a blackboard with a class of poor girls around him, drilling them in the rudiments, teaching this uninteresting matter, teaching hour after hour!"

In truth, it was a metamorphosis!

The mention of the name may have been made by "Mr. Coxe" to and through "Mr. Williams," then Rector at Schenectady, who was an' enthusiastic supporter and forwarder of the project at Troy, and a constant adviser of the foundress. Dr. Warren writes: "1 suggested to my mother that Dr. Williams should have charge of the Mission. His reply was that he could not leave St. George's, Schenectady, but that he knew a young man in the Theological Seminary who would be just the right man in the right place. That young man was secured, and how thoroughly correct was the estimation of Dr. Williams, the faithful and uninterrupted ministrations of the Rev. Dr. Tucker . . . are a living witness."

For the sake of those who are not Trojans, let me pause to give a brief recounting of local history.

Mrs. Phebe Warren was a benevolent Church-woman, a native of Norwalk, Conn., who with her husband and family settled in the then village of Troy in the year 1798. The newcomer took large interest in the planting of the Church in her neighborhood. After the parish of St. Paul's was started, in 1804, she undertook the Catechetical instruction of the children--that is, she formed a class or school for instruction in the Catechism, and this before the day of either Sunday or Parish School.

The desolations of war, in the year 1812, brought about an increase in the number of neglected children. Mrs. Phebe Warren met the fresh demand; she gathered a company of little ones into a "Saturday Sewing-school," wherein they were to be taught the "Catechism and plain sewing."

In 1835 the little school came clown as a bequest to the daughter-in-law, Mrs. Mary Warren, who had promised the dying foundress to continue the benefaction.

Four years after, the Saturday Sewing-school was converted into a day school, which met in an apartment belonging to St. Paul's Church. From the beginning the singing of the children was made much of; frequently do we read of visitors, that they were taken "to hear the children sing." A competent instructor, William Hopkins, had been engaged to give music lessons to the school. A further and more extended interest was awakened in view of the fact that a son of the benefactress was himself a musician, and that at special services he acted as organist for the choir of children.

In St. Paul's Church, six or eight pews in the gallery, next to the organ loft, had been set apart for occupancy on Sunday mornings by the members of the school. As among them much attention was given to music, they would be likely to take part in the musical sections of the service. Their participation, however, was not grateful to the professional members of the quartet choir, who desired the exclusive right of performance. The story is told by Dr. Nathan B. Warren, present patron of the school:

"One Monday morning, in the summer of 1843, the patroness of the little school went in as usual, and found the children all in tears. On inquiring the cause of the disturbance, she was told by Miss Pierce, the teacher, that the Sunday-school Superintendent had just been in, and had lectured the children on the impropriety of uniting their voices with the regular choir. The choir were unwilling, the Superintendent said, that the children should assist in the music of the Church, and that unless he could stop them they would quit.

"This musical strike frightened the Superintendent, who was a benevolent man, and doubtless had no idea of the pain he was inflicting. The patroness said to the children: ' Dry your eyes, and like good children do as you are bid, and you soon shall have a Church of your own to sing in, and in which you can sing to your hearts' content.'

"The children had been a little exalted since their elevation to the organ loft on the Holydays occurring on week-days, and since a Sunday-school celebration at which they assisted at a Choral Service, on which occasion the venerable Superintendent expressed himself decidedly pleased, declaring that ' it was very solemn.' "

So good came out of evil. The churlishness of the quartet brought about the starting of a charity, which under accomplished and wise direction grew up to be a creation unique, poetic and Christian.

Mrs. Mary Warren had already made provision in her will for the establishment of a free Missionary Church in Troy. Now it appeared that the working out of her plan must be expedited. She decided at once, after the complaint about the children, to become her own executor. The charitable work was begun and carried on; her children uniting in the effort.

For information about the laying of the cornerstone, we are indebted to a diary kept by the pious foundress, and discovered the day after her death. On the date, Wednesday, the 23rd April, 1844, she writes:

I have been much engaged preparing for the reception of the Bishop who arrived this evening at 6 o'clock after a very refreshing thunderstorm. Dr. Potter of Albany accompanied him and they both remained with us until Friday morning. On Thursday the Bishop ordained Mr. Fairbairn in the morning; after service, we had the Bishop to dine with us. Among the company were Dr. Potter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Kip, Mr. Selkirk of Albany, Mr. Metcalf of Duanesburgh, Mr. Babbet of Hudson, Mr. Hecock of Western N. Y., Mr. Twing, Mr. Bissell, Mr. Van Kleeck, Mr. Cox, Mr. Fairbairn, Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Van Rensselaer.

1/2 past four. After driving we had service at St. Paul's, when the children formed the choir. Immediately after service, the Bishop and clergy attended by the vestry of the several churches and the laity formed a procession and went up to 8th street, to lay the cornerstone of the Free Mission Church of the Holy Cross. After the Bishop laid the stone, Mr. Van Kleeck our Rector delivered a most excellent and appropriate address: the children of the school chanted the Psalms and sang an Anthem, assisted by their teacher Mr. Hopkins and several others who accompanied them on instruments of music of different kinds. The music was very fine, and seemed to delight every one. After the services were over, the Bishop attended by the clergy and vestry, all came to our house and remained for a short time. We had a succession of visitors throughout the evening which seemed very gratifying to our Diocesan as well as to all of our family. The Rev. Mr. Ingersoll also came in town and passed a part of the evening with us. We had a bright and glorious day for our services, which I trust is an omen of the smile and approbation of an overruling Providence on our undertaking. We have had so much to discourage us ever since it has been known that we contemplated building and dedicating this Church to God. By some people it has been said that we were going to join the Romanists, and by others it was said we were going to build a Puseyite or Puseylite Church; and all sorts of ill-natured remarks have been made about it. I will remark that the cornerstone was laid on St. Mark's day, it being the birthday of my son Nathan B. Warren. This Church when completed is designed to have the daily service.

An inscription made on or in the corner-stone, announced: "The Church of the Holy Cross was founded in the year of grace, 1844, by Mary Warren, as a house of prayer for all people, without money and without price. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Amen."

At the laying of the corner-stone two anthems were sung--"O send out Thy light and Thy truth" and "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised." About the music our authority says: "If it was not artistic it was given with a hearty good will." There was an orchestral accompaniment, led by William Hopkins, who that day laid the foundation of the choir ere long famous throughout the land.

As yet Mr. Tucker has nothing to do with it. In New York on that day, the student in the Seminary very likely had no thought about the doings up the Hudson, in a locality with which his whole future was to be identified. Soon, however, he is nominated to the patron, and appears upon the scene. Mrs. Warren writes:

Oct. 26th. Saturday evening. My sons Nathan and George came up in the boat tonight with the Rev. Mr. Tucker. He stayed with us and we were much pleased with him.

Sunday. Mr. Tucker read prayers for Mr. Van Kleeck this morning, but declined preaching. The children sang between services, and Mr. Tucker seemed much gratified.

Monday. Mr. Fairbairn dined with us today with Mr. Tucker. We then went up to the school and heard the children go through the services for the Consecration. Mr. Tucker sang with them, and the music was never finer. Mr. Tucker then left us in the evening boat for New York.

Saturday, 30th. [November.] The Rev. Mr. Tucker arrived this evening, and has come up with an expectancy of having our Church consecrated next week on Thursday or Saturday. We shall however be disappointed as our Bishop has declined for the present attending to any official duties, and has not yet appointed any Bishop to act in his place.

December, Friday, 6th. Mr. Tucker left us this morning for New York, with the hope of making arrangements with Bishop Doane for the Consecration of our Church, after the trial of Bishop Onderdonk, which is to take place on Tuesday the 10th.

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