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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 XII. The Later Fifties

A series of old scrap-books has come to hand, filled with cuttings collected years ago at Troy by the Rector; many of these refer to the Holy Cross and the Mary Warren Institute.

There is one--undated, but presumably belonging to the year 1856--which furnishes a record of happenings at the time. The Editor of the Church Journal prefaces the printed correspondence with his own remark, "At a distance from the city, perhaps Troy will furnish as choice a specimen of Christmas celebration as can be found."

On Christmas eve, at about dusk, the Christmas Tree, sparkling with a hundred wax lights among the boughs, was unveiled at the residence of Mrs. Warren, and shone in the eyes of seventy or eighty children, mostly the orphan inmates of the school founded by their munificent entertainer. Carols were sung, and congratulations were exchanged, and happy with gifts and enjoyment, the little ones went home delighted.

At midnight precisely the chimes began their merry noise from the tower of the Church of the Holy Cross, and kept it up with varying changes for half an hour: and then, in the clear moonlight and the mild atmosphere of this December, a lusty choir of singers filled the streets with their resounding Carols, beginning under the windows of the Rector of St. Paul's, and thence extending their visits to others also. This charming feature of Christmas celebration, will, we trust, spread as fast and as far as the Christmas Tree.

At the Church of the Holy Cross, on Christmas Day, there was full choral service, the Venite and Psalter being sung to the grand old Gregorians,/«/v. The sermon was preached by a clergyman visiting the city from New York. The Anthem was "For unto us "from the "Messiah," and was well done; as were also the Te Deum, Jubilate and Gloria in Excelsis of Ouseley. The whole day's service was delightful in the highest degree.

Here is a counterpart of the foregoing--a cutting taken from the Troy Daily Times--which gives account of an Easter celebration, probably in the year 1857. From the record it will appear that Plain-song was still in the ascendant, that its value had been appreciated after full trial. It will be seen also that music of the highest grade was adopted as an integral part of divine service. The reporter says:

At this Church the ancient custom of decorating the altar at Easter with the early flowers of spring, is continued. The collection yesterday, considering the earliness of the season, was remarkably beautiful. It is a long time since we have feasted our eyes on so many beautiful flowers in one collection.

All the services were choral throughout; and were performed with the skill for which the choir of this Church is celebrated. At the II o'clock service a Choral Litany was performed, and an appropriate sermon preached by the Rev. Mr. Tucker; after which the Holy Communion was administered.

The large double choir of this Church performed the morning and evening choral service throughout with admirable effect. The Responses, both morning and evening, together with the Easter Anthem "Christ our Passover," were taken from the "Plain-song of the Church"; the Proper Psalms, both morning and evening, from "Helmorc's Plain-song"; the Te Deum and Jubilate at morning service, and the Cantate and Deus at evening service, from the music of Joseph Corfe. But the crowning glory of these rich musical services, was the grand "Hallelujah Chorus "from Handel's Oratorio of the Messiah--a work trying to the best of Church choirs, and even to more extensive musical bodies; and the admirable production of which reflects the greatest credit upon the able organist of the Holy Cross, and the efficient choir under his management. We must say that we think the Plain-song particularly adapted to congregational chanting. We hope to see it more generally introduced.

The last remark will show an intelligent interest in the matter, which in these days is not customary on the part of a secular reporter. Nevertheless, the narrator is inclined to look on the whole business as a "performance," and he so phrases it. But there is no doubt that the function was planned and carried out as an act of praise to Almighty God.

The Rector of the Holy Cross had a care for matters of general concern outside of parish limitations. We have found him already officiating at services of the Church Choral Society held in New York City. It was a custom with him to visit his neighbors and be present--anywhere within reach--upon special occasions, such as the laying of a corner-stone, at a confirmation or ordination service, or the meeting of a convocation.

Mr. Tucker showed strong; interest in the "Brotherhood of St. Barnabas," a general Church organization devoted to works of benevolence, to the giving of help in sickness and for burial, and to the support of a "Church Asylum "in the city of Troy. Many special services, participated in by the assembled brotherhood, were held in the Church of the Holy Cross. We read of a sixth anniversary, holden on the Feast-day of St. Barnabas, in one of the later fifties, when Dr. Cooke of St. Bartholomew's, New York, was the preacher, and when the annual report was read by the Rev. John Scarborough, then deacon of St. Paul's, Troy.

In the summer of 1858 the Rector of the Holy Cross received from his alma mater the degree Sacrae Theologiae Doctor.

Bearing the new honor, he comes into prominence in August of the same year as preacher at St. Paul's Church, Troy, upon the occasion when the Rev. John Scarborough--now Bishop of New Jersey--is advanced to the Order of Priests. The Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter is in charge. Many visiting clergy are present. There is a quartet choir in the gallery, which sings "How beautiful upon the mountains" as an "opening piece."

The preacher had chosen for his subject "The Polity and Ministry of the Church." He referred to the polity as outward and visible, arguing that its facts must be determined "by the Bible record, with the assistance of such light as is thrown upon the subject by profane history." After reviewing the statements made about the ministry of the Apostolic Church, he gave attention to the period of the Reformation. In the address to the candidate, the preacher said:

It is but natural, I would repeat, but proper that you should associate high thoughts, and glorious anticipations with the holy office to which you seek to be admitted. You "have used the office of a Deacon well," and "purchased to yourself a good degree." But with that degree--that promotion in the Church of Christ to which you aspire--remember, is bound up by apostolic injunction "great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." As you prize, then, the good degree to which you have attained by your faithfulness in a lower grade of your ministry, be bold "in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." Be bold in preaching the truths of His holy Gospel, bold in maintaining the use and the dignity ol His sacred institutions. Let me affectionately urge you never--through a cowardly concession to expediency, or at the dictate of a selfish policy--to shrink from an open and uncompromising profession of your religious principles; of your real, earnest convictions of truth, of right and of duty. "Let no man despise thee or thy office for a base compliance with error, and the violation of the most solemn vows.

Two days after the ordination the Rector had a slight experience of them that break through and steal. Upon a Friday night, the Church of the Holy Cross was entered by burglars, who broke open the alms chest, carrying off--as the reporter expressed it--no one can say how much gold, silver, and copper, also surplices, stoles, and other matters. The same reporter entered into argument:

It is but fair to presume that the robbers were not Ecclesiologists, and were, therefore, possibly deceived by the iron bands and the multiplicity of locks, into the idea that the well secured chest contained great treasures. A taste for Medievalism may thus expose a parish to other attacks than those of "the brethren" who are opposed to the revival or imitation of middle-aged Christianity, even in the shape and decorations of an alms chest. Perhaps to put temptation out of the way of thieves, it would be well to have it understood that these boxes for alms are opened every month. The burglars complimented the attendants at Holy Cross, by supposing that they were liberal in their alms; and in return they ought to be held up as an example to all other Church robbers for the decency in which they carried on their depredations. Nothing, I am happy to say, was injured by the thieves through mere maliciousness.

On the 1st of March, 1859, the Missionary Convocation of Northern New York assembled in the Church of the Holy Cross, thirty-six of the clergy being in attendance. As upon other occasions, the records of the time speak of the music as noteworthy, in particular the Plainsong as "hearty and spirited."

The session is memorable as taking action about a sad loss which had come to the Rector and people of the Holy Cross, and which was felt by multitudes in Troy and elsewhere. A resolution was adopted, unanimously, giving expression to the feeling called out by the recent death of Mrs. Mary Warren.

One Sunday in the following month, Bishop Horatio Potter paid a visit to the Holy Cross, confirming fourteen candidates; it was the second Confirmation within the year, which showed thirty-three in all as a portion of the fruits of faithful labor. At the end of his sermon the Bishop spoke touchingly of the peculiar loss that had come to the parish. He dwelt upon the virtues of Mrs. Warren, Founder of the Holy Cross. He was surrounded by the sad memorials of her departure from among the living; but there were grander memorials still to recall her charity and devotion--the very walls of that Church were her monument. The Bishop spoke of the kindness of Mrs. Warren, in particular, to the clergy; of her zeal and benevolence, and said that the effects of her holy example were to be seen in places far distant from the scenes which witnessed her pious works of faith and love. There were many weeping ones in the crowded congregation when the Bishop delivered his eulogy.

Soon there was another sad burial, at Burlington, New Jersey, fittingly associated in time with the loss of Mrs. Warren. The body of the noble-hearted Bishop Doane of New Jersey was laid to rest in the green God's acre which surrounds the impressive St. Mary's Church.

We read about the solemn beauty of that Wednesday in Easter week, when the extended line of vested clergy wound along the margin of "Riverside"--"on the left, the broad, lashing surface of the Delaware, with its moving sails, seen through the trunks of the new-leafed trees, among the branches of which the birds were making music as merrily as if there were no grief below." The body of the much loved Bishop, covered by a purple pall, was borne by the faithful all the way from Riverside into the choir of St. Mary's Church. Afterward in the churchyard, when the great company gathered around the open grave, Doctor Tucker had a place in the memorable scene. The sentence, "I heard a voice from heaven," was sung by three priests--the Rev. Messrs. Pecke and Shackelford and the Rev. Dr. Tucker. The music sung was a Trio adapted from Mozart's Requiem. The three voices blended in a fine balance of harmony; the sounds, swelling and dying away in the open air, gave exquisite expression to the feelings of the grief-stricken multitude.

During the year, an important enlargement had been effected in the fabric of the Church at Troy. Then was built the picturesque tower which now stands as a landmark, also the spacious ante-chapel which added much to the seating capacity as well as the architectural effect of the building.

The extension had been contemplated by the founder. After she had gone, the plan was carried out by her children. The purpose is inscribed upon a stone tablet let into the west wall: "This Church, free to all people, was founded by Mary, widow of Nathan Warren, A.D., MDCCCXLIV. The Ante-Chapel, contemplated by the founder, was built by her children as a memorial of their venerated mother, who on the VIII day of February, A.D., MDCCCLIX, in the LXX year of her age, entered into that rest which remaineth to the people of God."

Together with the rectory, built two years earlier, the structure now presented an imposing frontage of eighty-three feet. The material was solid, the construction permanent: blue stone in the walls, a checkered stone pavement within, Aubigne stone in piers, arches, and window tracery. A screen of wood carved in open-work was put in place between ante-chapel and nave--the earliest example of the sort within the limits of the American Church. A great rose window was inserted as a memorial of the foundress. The figures in this and the other window lights formed the subjects of informal instructions, delivered by Doctor Tucker to the girls of his school.

Like the original structure, the improvements were designed by Dr. N. B. Warren, who had received a suggestion from the ante-chapel of New College in Oxford.

The first service held in the re-opened Church was one of mourning for a close friend and a faithful co-worker. It was a year of sorrows; three times the dark messenger had come to the intimate circle of those dear to the Rector and his people.

Harriette Louise, wife of Edmund Schriver, was the only daughter of Mrs. Mary Warren; the child had walked in the footsteps of her sainted mother. Like her, she went about doing good, and maintained a lively interest in school and Church.

On Thursday morning, the 15th of December, Mrs. Schriver drove to the Holy Cross, where she entered the tower and watched the hoisting up into its place of the last bell of the chime. Much work remained to be done about the building; as Mrs. Schriver left she made the remark, "I do not think it will be possible to have the Church opened for service on Sunday."

The visitor returned to her sleigh. In the descent of the hill the horse became restive; as he turned a corner he appeared to start upon a run; Mrs. Schriver jumped from the sleigh and was dashed against the icy ground. She was carried into the house of a physician, but before husband or brother could reach her, her earthly life was done.

On the following Sunday the Burial Office was said at the Church of the Holy Cross. Doctor Tucker wrote about the occasion:

The Rev. Dr. Coit, and the Rev. Messrs. Twing, Mulchahey, Potter and Scarborough were with me on that solemn occasion, to express, along with many others, their sympathy.

After the Lesson, I informed the congregation, that we had selected that very day for the re-opening service of the Church--had requested Bishop Potter to be with us on an occasion of so much interest to all who were familiar with the history of the parish--and that a compliance with our request had only been prevented by previous appointments. "This," I said in some such words as these, "is our opening service. And could there be one more solemn and impressive; one better fitted to promote the glory of God by making all of us who are here today, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, and of the necessity of watchfulness and diligence in the performance of our religious obligations?"

I then read, as most expressive of my own feelings, from a letter of condolence addressed to me by Bishop Potter.

The sad service was held on the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Upon the Christmas day following immediately after, Doctor Tucker preached a sermon, which has been published in pamphlet form; it is headed "Christmas Consolations for the Sorrowful."

After dwelling upon the fact that "the good tidings of great joy" and the full chorus of the celestial choirs were associated with the gloom of night, he went on to say.

May there not be something congenial with Christmas tidings and Christmas joys, in that stillness and gloominess of the soul, when gladsome hymns and friendly greetings sound "like songs in the night when a holy solemnity is kept," and as the clouds of affliction hang heavy, shutting out all signs of worldly festivity, heaven seems to be nearer and God's words reach us in tones more clear?

If ever, one might think, a messenger from heaven would be greeted as the bringer of good tidings, it would be when all the beauty and glory of life is covered over with a drapery of sorrow. . . .

One present at the service tells me what an effort it was for Doctor Tucker, overcome by his own sorrow, to deliver this sermon. At times he would break down, almost sobbing. So it was, toward the end of his sermon, when he struggled to say:

I love to think here amid these signs of Christ's presence and glory, of one who was very dear to me and others, and dear to most of those who now are before me--of one who was here in the morning, and in a few minutes after leaving this house of Prayer was suddenly by angels conducted into Paradise. . . . With mind and heart now full of Jesus, the Incarnate Saviour, I love to speak of her, who so unexpectedly was parted from friends on earth, to join her friends in eternity,--who, in an instant, passed from the threshold of the temple into the special abode of the Divine Presence.

Among the names of clergy, present at the sad funeral, appears that of the Rev. Mr. Potter, introduced by one of the newspapers of the day as "the son of the Bishop of Pennsylvania." The Rev. Henry C. Potter, now Bishop of New York, had entered upon the rectorship of St. John's Church in Troy. Soon the young Rector found himself subject to the attraction, the winning way of Doctor Tucker. The two became friends and then companions; they travelled together upon certain summer journeys. Bishop Potter's own remembrance of the period will be given.

One thing remains to be mentioned in connection with an eventful year. It was a quite usual occurrence for the Rector of the Holy Cross to be "called" to some other field of labor. Upon different occasions he was asked and urged to accept the rectorship of influential parishes.

Reside these, there came at least the suggestion of another line of duty. At the Second Annual Convention of the Diocese of Minnesota, assembled on the Feast of St. Peter, the chief business was the election of a Bishop. Upon the first ballot, the Rev. John Ireland Tucker, D.D., was nominated by the clergy, by a large majority of votes. The timid laymen failed to confirm, by a vote of 10 to n.

Again the clergy nominated upon a second ballot; again the laymen rejected by the majority of a single vote. Afterward, by a correspondent of the Church Journal, it was asserted that two of the lay voters did not possess the right of suffrage. By that time, however, the Rev. Henry B. Whipple had received the election. The result was no doubt a relief to the parson dwelling upon Mount Ida, for he had declined offered positions showing stronger attractions than the Diocese in a new land.

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