Project Canterbury

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 IX. Consecration--The Ordering of Priests

In the year 1848 the fabric of the "Holy Cross" began to enlarge its borders. To the nave and tower, built four years previously, a square chancel was added. In the new planning, different levels were arranged for choir and Sacrarium; three steps led up to the first, and other three to the second.

At the beginning of the work the consecration of the Church had been deferred, on account of the complications about the Episcopate of New York. Now the services of Bishop Whittingham were secured, and the consecration was fixed for St. Nicholas' day, the 6th of December, 1848. The Warrens always had a partiality for good old St. Nicholas.

Upon the Wednesday morning appointed, the Bishop and clergy, members of vestries belonging to neighboring Churches and other Churchmen--a goodly company--assembled in the school building, thence marching in procession to the Church.

The Instrument of Donation was presented to the Bishop by Stephen E. Warren and read' by Mr. Tucker.

The sentence of consecration was recited by Dr. Benjamin I. Haight, Professor in the General Theological Seminary.

As during the years just passed, outside interest was manifested; there was a rallying of clergy deeply concerned in the work. The participating officiants were many. After the completion of the act of consecration, Dr. Van Kleeck of St. Paul's started the Morning Prayer. The first lesson was read by the Rev. Samuel I. Southard, Rector of Calvary Church, New York; the second by the Rev. Richard Cox, Rector of Zion Church in the same city.

Mr. Tucker commenced the intoning of the service at the Versicles after the Lord's Prayer, "according to the use of Westminster Abbey," as a journalist of the day expresses it. The Proper Psalms were chanted antiphonally. The Litany was sung by two Cantors, the Rev. Messrs. Tucker and Shackelford, the responses being given by choir and organ.

In the Eucharistic office the Rev. Reuben Hubbard, Rector of St. Stephen's, Schuylerville, was the Epistler. The Bishop was Celebrant and Gospeller, also the Preacher of the day.

After the Benediction the Bishop came down to the choir steps, and there made an informal address congratulating the congregation upon the completion of the work and upon the fact of dedication. The speaker reviewed the past history of the enterprise from the day when Mrs. Phebe Warren gathered a band of children about her to receive instruction from her mouth. The Bishop referred to the different steps of development, emphasizing the value of the training received by these pupils in vocal music. He showed how the design expanded into an edifice erected to the glory of God, in which the "sweet and well-trained voices of these little ones "were to take an important part.

The result was before the congregation: an edifice of singular beauty and much cost, free for all who choose to enter within its hallowed doors, erected and endowed by an individual member of the fold of Christ, with a large school of children in constant preparation for the duties of this life and the blessings of heaven in regular attendance on the daily services of the Church, and adding to the beauty and it may be efficacy of devotion, by the skilful harmony with which they share the choral parts.

A newspaper report published at the time speaks of the "great additional interest and solemnity "which were "imparted to the service by the very admirable and appropriate selection of music, and by the accurate and spirited manner in which it was performed." From the Order of Service we discover that one chant, Lord Mornington in E, was sung to the Venite and the Proper Psalms. The setting of the Te Deum and Jubilate was that by Mendelssohn in A. The anthem after sermon was by Naumann; the words from the 122nd Psalm.

The Kyrie, Trisagion, and Gloria in Excelsis were by Dr. Hodges; the first of these was written expressly for the occasion.

The printed account refers to a picture in oil which "almost covered the east end" of the Sanctuary. The canvas had been painted by the artist Weir of West Point, and presented by him to the "Holy Cross." The scene was in keeping with the title of the Church. It represented the Cross, on the evening of the Crucifixion, at the moment when pious hands, dimly discerned in the fading light, are bearing the sacred body to its tomb in the garden. One who used to see the picture writes: "The whole air of the piece is of the deepest solemnity and pathos."

On the day following--the 7th of December--a service of equal importance was held in the newly consecrated Church. Then the Bishop of Maryland admitted to the Priesthood the Rev. John Ireland Tucker and the Rev. John W. Shackelford, Missionary at Cohoes.

The candidates were presented by the faithful friend, the Rev. R. B. Fairbairn. The Rev. Samuel Buel, Rector of Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, began the "Morning Service." The Rev. Joshua Weaver of West Troy read the first lesson, the Rev. A. T. Twing of Lansingburgh the second. The prayers were intoned by Geo. Jarvis Geer, a Seminary mate of the minister of St. Cross.

Again the Bishop preached an appropriate sermon. The selection of music was the same as that sung on the day before, except that a chant-tune by Aldrich was substituted for that by Lord Mornington.

Other clergy not officiating were present at the one or other of these two important services; among them the Rev. Wm. Payne, Rector of St. George's Church, Schenectady.

Now the work of school and Church goes on with added completeness: a Priest is at the head. The Pastor had never been found wanting even through the years of his diaconate; the teacher had labored uninterruptedly. Moreover, the young Rector was making friends, firm and fast, whose friendship has never changed, and never will change in all the years to come.

One of his earliest companions was Robert B. Fairbairn, whose name appears so often in the Journal of Services. For a time the two dwelt together in the same house. During that period Mr. Fairbairn took sick; Mr. Tucker went off and got a nurse and paid for it himself. This was at a boarding-house kept by a Mrs. Roberts.

Another first friend was Henry C. Lockwood. After the period of "boarding," the Rector had hired a house on Fourth Street; there he took up his residence, and he begged his friend to come live with him. For a while the two kept house together, until the marriage of Mr. Lockwood.

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