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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 XIII. Bishop Potter's Reminscence--Election of the First Bishop of Albany

The beginning of the sixties has been described by a participant. Not long ago the Bishop of New York kindly gave his impressions reminiscent of a time when the future Bishop began to be a neighbor of the Pastor of the Holy Cross. The Bishop said:

My acquaintance began when I became Rector of St. John's Church, Troy, in 1859. Doctor Tucker had then been in Troy some fifteen years; he had already made large place in the affections of the people, overcoming the original prejudices which many had entertained.

My first impressions of him were those of a very young man, barely of age, who was daily surprised by the courtesy and kindly interest of a man greatly older than himself. I was frequently indebted to him for assistance in the services of the Church, and always for the most generous encouragement in all intellectual work and in the problems which saluted the inexperienced stripling in charge for the first time of a parish of considerable importance. Our relations became more intimate, and once or twice during my seven years' residence in Troy, we spent part of our summer vacations together in travel. We were members of a literary and social club, to which belonged many of the leading professional men in Troy and others, including the Hon. David A. Wells. In that fellowship, I gained a very strong impression of Doctor Tucker's wide reading and large intellectual sympathies. He was not only an educated man in the best sense of the term, with a trained mind and good classical foundations, but he was a constant and various reader of the best books.

In such intercourse, not only the knowledge but the prejudices of men come to the surface; and it was a revelation to one accustomed to the ordinary experiences of life, to find how free from prejudice, intolerance and acrimony, one could be, and nevertheless hold his own convictions in a very strong grasp, and feel most deeply concerning all that he believed. The secret of it all was to be found in the singular nobility of his nature--absolutely free, I think, from all pettiness, jealousy, censoriousness and acerbity, more so than almost any man whom I have ever known.

With these characteristics, he came to exercise an influence in Troy which was absolutely unique, and no man or woman who was striving for the right, in howsoever blundering or eccentric a way, had any doubt about his substantial sympathy. He had rare wisdom, practical good sense, a fine and true quality of discrimination, but he could be both just and generous to people who were without these characteristics; and most of all, whoever was striving in whatever agency for the triumph of the eternal righteousness, knew that Doctor Tucker war, on his side. From this fact, there came to pass a very singular result. He was never a public man in the merely popular sense of that term--now and then in great emergencies he came to the fore, and allowed the eminent weight of his name and co-operation to be counted upon the side of some grave moral or civic issue--but ordinarily, his life was lived in the modest circle of his own parochial relations and obligations; and yet notwithstanding this he came to be felt in Troy as a power for good everywhere, among all classes, with a force and weight that increased steadily to the end. I do not recall more than one other instance in this generation of such largely silent influence of character.

To those who knew and loved him best, it seems to be something almost a profanation, the attempt to speak of Doctor Tucker in his more intimate personal relations. The charm of his presence, singularly high-bred but most gracious in dignity, and his bearing absolutely without ceremoniousness or stiffness, but with a courtesy so unfailing and a charm so irresistible--who that knew them will ever forget them? A man without family, his home had always the warm charm of a delightful hospitality, and his conversation the rare quality of invariable sympathy, vivacity and responsiveness. Never surely was there a more beautiful illustration of the fact that graces of mind and character make age a forgotten factor in our estimate of friends. Doctor Tucker was as young, the last day that I saw him, as the first; and yet nearly forty years had stretched between them. He had indeed great charm of presence, the fare of a saint and a scholar, but his merely physical characteristics seemed always to me simply like the porcelain shade which reveals the steady and gracious light that burns within. There may be other men in the ministry, of his generation, who resembled him in his rare qualities; but I think that to those who knew him he will always stand apart, in the life of the community in which he lived and in the ministry of our American Church, as a figure of absolutely singular and unmatched graciousness, of benignity and habitual and unaffected self-sacrifice.

When the Civil War came on in the year 1861 Doctor Tucker was roused up to an ardor of patriotism. At one time he had almost made up his mind to enlist in the army; from this he was dissuaded by arguments adduced by an old friend and parishioner, who quoted the words of God addressed to David: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war and hast shed blood." But the Rector's abiding interest in the topic--especially in its bearings on Church unity--is witnessed in the subject-matter of many cuttings from newspapers preserved in one or more of his scrap-books.

Doctor Tucker was never a political preacher. He never forgot that he was a priest. Nevertheless, he looked upon loyalty to his government as one of the ordinary Christian virtues, and as having no intrinsic connection with politics; accordingly, during the war, when Thanksgiving days came round, he was accustomed to "speak his mind," and to "speak it warmly"--so I am informed by a devoted parishioner of long standing.

On the tenth of May, 1862, a great fire occurred in the city of Troy, now famous in its annals. A terrible gale was blowing; the high wind distributed the sparks and burning fagots. In this way the Van der Heyden mansion, standing in Walnut Grove and used as the parish school-house, took fire and was consumed. The Church escaped. I have been told of a fact, apparently incredible, testifying to the power of the wind on that fateful day. Sheets of music belonging to the Holy Cross, showing signs of fire, were found in Lenox, Mass., whither they had been carried by the gale.

Although the Church fabric was not destroyed, some of its furnishings gave token of the ordeal. The altar-piece was so blackened by smoke that the scene portrayed upon it became almost invisible.

Originally the picture had represented the Cross at the time of the removal of the Saviour's body.

It had been painted by Weir of West Point for the chapel pertaining; to that military institution. As the offence of the Cross had not yet ceased, the authorities objected to the setting up of the picture in the place intended; they would not permit its introduction into the chapel.

Captain Schriver, himself a graduate of West Point, heard of the dilemma. lie suggested to the artist that there was a Church of the Holy Cross up the Hudson, where the subject would be most appropriate. Mr. Weir gladly offered the picture to the Church, over whose altar it acted as reredos for years.

After it was begrimed by smoke and changed into "a dark and gloomy object," it maintained its position until the chancel was lengthened at the time of the last enlargement. Then the altar-piece made way for stained glass windows. The former was hung upon the wall of the ante-chapel until, at a later day, it was again displaced to make room for a memorial tablet. At the present time the canvas is preserved in the attic of a private house.

The great fire had another effect upon the fortunes of the Holy Cross: it perpetuated the pastorship which otherwise might have ended prematurely. Doctor Tucker received three separate calls to accept the rectorship of St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia.

Strong persuasion was brought to bear. Just when the St. Mark's people were trying their hardest to induce Doctor Tucker to come, and while, he was balancing the question, the day of fire overtook his parish. He said at once, "There is no use in talking. My poor people are in trouble: I cannot go."

A heavy loss was borne by Rector and people when William Hopkins was called away from earth, on the i8th of February, 1866.

Mr. Hopkins had been the first, so far the only, teacher of music in the school and organist in the Church. In the connection he had served faithfully for twenty-five years. He began his labors when the girls were first assembled as an Industrial School associated with St. Paul's parish. Even then, when the effort was new, his success was rapid. His little pupils appeared in a public performance.

I have before me a copy of a boldly printed programme which reads:


The pupils of the School of Industry will give a


On Monday Evening, July 31,
At their School-room in State Street.

They will be assisted on this occasion by their teacher, WILLIAM HOPKINS. The receipts will be appropriated to the support of the Boys' School of St. Paul's Parish.

This Concert will be given under the superintendence of the Ladies' Industrious Society of St. Paul's Church.


1. INTRODUCTION--Piano Forte. Rossini.
2. CHANT--Psalms for the Day. Lord Mornington.
3. TRIO--Oh, say not, dream not, heavenly notes. Keble.
4. DESCRIPTIVE PIECE--Hark, the Vesper Hymn is stealing
5. TRIO--The Sabbath Bell so full and swelling. Neukomm,
6. ANTHEM--Great is the Lord

The second part included a Chorus from Weber's "Freyschutz" and other selections.

William Hopkins was a conscientious Church musician. He had to do with that first partly Choral Service, ever celebrated in America, at a children's office on Easter day in 1842. He had intimate connection also with the starting and continuance of the Choral Service at the Holy Cross, where the sting office has been heard within its walls ever since the opening. He trained the girls and other singers for the rendering of the important anthems, at once adopted as a part of the offering up of praise.

Moreover, he was a communicant member, a loyal son of mother Church; so, when it came to be the time that the words of burial should be said in his behalf, it was fitting that there should be an outburst of real prayer and praise.

At one o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, the body of William Hopkins rested upon a bier in the ante-chapel of the Holy .Cross. It was partly covered by a pall of cloth, purple and white. At three, the children of the school entered in procession, wearing their uniform of scarlet cloaks and drab bonnets. The banner of the Mary Warren Free Institute was carried in line by a former member of the "Parochial Choral Society "--another organization in which the one remembered had been active. After the Trustees of the Institute, marched the officiating clergy--Doctor Tucker, Messrs. Cooke, Danker, and Cady.

As the procession advanced, the choir sang the opening sentences. The first roll or tide of harmony, sweeping through the Church, was remarked upon in reports written at the time. That pervasiveness of rich, soulful vocal harmony has always been characteristic of services sung at the Holy Cross.

Merbecke's music was given as the setting for the sentences. The Burial Chant was Gregorian--taken antiphonally. After the lesson, the clergy gathered about the coffin, when again the Merbecke music was sung, this time set to "Man that is born of a woman." Doctor Tucker intoned the Committal. "I heard a voice" was arranged to phrases taken from Mozart's Requiem. Mr. Cooke intoned the concluding collects.

As the procession passed out it sang "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart" to a setting by John Smith, Vicar Choral of St. Patrick's, Dublin.

Thereafter it was said: "The music was the best eulogy of the dead man, over whom it was sung, that could have been made." It was a witness to his own labor, and to his appreciation of beauty in the worship of Almighty God.

The interests of the Church at large, in Europe as well as America, were much in the thought of Doctor Tucker. Naturally, his view went out toward his own national communion, and in particular toward his own Diocese.

When the jurisdiction of Albany was set off from the parent stem, there was not an entire unanimity of feeling about the naming of a Priest who should be elevated to the Episcopate and entrusted with the charge of the new spiritual commonwealth. Many of the Church people in and around Troy had made tip their minds in favor of a candidate who--as it turned out--was not elected. The man of their choice was passed by, and as a consequence some of them felt sore; in certain neighborhoods opposition became threatening.

Doctor Tucker saw the need that some one should stand up and preach for Church order and for the support of the constituted authorities. He preached upon the subject on the Sunday occurring next after the election of the first Bishop of Albany.

Some of the remarks made by the Rector are outspoken and resolute, but the public agitation which called them into being was of a character which demanded plainness of speech.

The text was chosen from the Epistle to the Romans, 15th chapter and 5th verse. The speaker began:

The Diocese of Albany being now fully organized, I feel that it is due to the people committed to my spiritual charge to present to their consideration some facts respecting the Diocese of which this parish forms part, and in whose concerns it should entertain therefore a wise and hearty interest.

After referring to the apportionment of territory and the strength of the district, the preacher continued:

The Convention assembled at St. Peter's Church, Albany, on Wednesday last. Bishop Potter preached the sermon. . . . On Thursday at 12 o'clock, after a most solemn and impressive religious service and silent prayer, the Convention proceeded to elect a Bishop, and on the ninth balloting the Rev. Dr. Doane, Rector of St. Peter's Church, Albany, was elected first Bishop of the new See, he having received a majority of both the clerical and lay votes. The Te Deum was then sung. Soon afterwards, Dr. Doane at the request of the Convention appeared before it, acknowledged the kindness and confidence of his brethren, clerical and lay, evidenced by their choice; assured them that "if he thought the office had come to him through man's device, and not from God, he would die sooner than take up the load that is laid upon his soul," and closed his address with these words: "I give myself, my life, my all, through you, to God. I ask from you your confidence, your sympathy--I had almost said your pity, and your prayers that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear I may have some part, with you, in the crown of glory that fadeth not away."

The election was as unexpected to Dr. Doane as to his friends. And inasmuch as it has been intimated that there was some secret combination of the clergy to further and secure the election of the Rector of St. Peter's, Albany, or prevent the election of some other prominent candidate favored by a majority of the laity, I here publicly affirm that if such a combination existed, it was unknown to myself, and I also state the fact, that before the first balloting, I only knew how two men would vote, myself and one other. I did not rely on the cooperation in Dr. Doane's favor of one lay vote. I had made up my mind after due consideration how I should cast rny own vote, when I was assured by a clerical brother that he concurred with me in judgment and purpose. Under the circumstances I could not he very sanguine of success. I determined to do my duty honestly in the sight of God, and submit graciously to the allotment of His Providence. More than a year ago, in conversation with a friend, a. layman, I frankly avowed my own preferences, acknowledged that I could not anticipate the election of the clerical brother whom I might choose, and assured him that I was ready in good faith, to sustain any man as my Bishop, who with good heart, in all sincerity and faithfulness, believed in the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. I thus showed myself not very difficult to please or satisfy, while at the same time I honestly avowed my own preferences, and recognized the rights of the majority of my lay and clerical brethren. I think more of the office than I do of the man who fills it, and I was ready to honor and obey any Diocesan whom the majority of my brethren might distinguish by the prerogatives and dignity of the Episcopate. I should distrust my own faith in the use, the expediency, or the necessity of the sacred office of the Bishop in the Church of Christ, if I could allow my individual likes or dislikes, my notions or conceits, my opinions or convictions, to make me falter in my allegiance to my Bishop.

Obedience and submission to an ecclesiastical superior, are not however, as I feel, inconsistent with the self-respect of a man, and the inalienable rights of a Christian priest. ... I say this to guard against the imputation of holding and teaching blind submission on the part, of the clergy and laity, to the will and judgment of a Bishop. I do not believe in the infallibility, even in the most modified sense, of the Bishop of Rome, nor do I believe any more in the infallibility or indefectibility of the Bishop of New York, Albany, or any other See, whoever may be the temporary incumbent. . . . But this I do believe with all my heart, that if our reverence for the holy office of Bishop is so flimsy, so identified with persons and things of a mere temporal interest or concern, so associated with the accessories, which belong to individuals, circumstances and places, then, if our reverence be dependent upon such contingencies, as fleeting, as shadowy, as deceptive, as the overhanging branches or the passing clouds which picture the mirrory surface of the lake, we can put little confidence in our assumptions and protestations about Episcopacy, our loud and factious pretensions concerning its Scriptural and Apostolic claims. . . . What would become of an army where the officers and men faltered in their obedience, and withheld the conventional signs of respect, because they questioned the general's political wisdom, or doubted the expediency of a stratagem, or the plan of a campaign? ... Or to come nearer home. How far could we look forward into the future for the preservation of our republican rights and institutions, if the respect and obedience, which we manifested toward "the President of the United States and all others in authority "were dependent on our personal regard, our esteem, our liking for the successful competitor for national gifts and honors?

The point that I am aiming at is this, that even though the individual who is elected to the Episcopate differ from us in opinions and notions of Church policy, still our reverence for the holy office of Bishop should carry us beyond the control of personal sympathies and preferences. I am as yet maintaining only an abstract principle which is this: that it is a duty imposed upon all who consider themselves Churchmen living in this section of the State comprised within the limits of the new Diocese, to give their allegiance to the Bishop who shall be entrusted with its spiritual jurisdiction, and this in spite, though it may be, of individual wishes, of partisan or local interests; and to assist by a liberal contribution of their worldly means, by active sympathy and hearty cooperation, by their Counsels, by their words and deeds, in giving efficiency to his administration of the affairs of the Diocese. If every man, who happens to be disappointed in the selection of the incumbent of a vacant see, can withhold his charity, his zeal and energy, from the authorized instrumentalities established to promote God's glory by the extension of the Church, then I say there is an end of ecclesiastical authority and allegiance, and we are but a step removed from the barest and wildest scheme of Congregationalism. ... If we as Churchmen presume to stand before the world as Episcopalians or Bishopmen, or men who profess to believe that the government by Bishops is a divine appointment; that a Church Episcopally ordered is the Church established by the Lord Jesus Christ as His kingdom upon earth, the establishment divinely founded, divinely authorized, blessed with the promise of perpetuity by the Lord Himself, thus established and blessed to evangelize the world--if this be the conviction of Churchmen who choose to designate themselves "Episcopalians "--how without the sacrifice of our religious principles can we forbear, whatever be the motive, from giving according to our Christian faith and ability, aid spiritual and material to the only institution agreeably to our professions, which, on Scriptural grounds, and in accordance with Apostolic and primitive practice, can claim divine authority or sanction for preaching Christ and administering His sacraments? If a man who professes to be a Churchman or an Episcopalian boldly avows his determination to withhold all sympathy and support from his Bishop, because he would prefer some other individual as his Diocesan, I would say: "Well, be it so: only be consistent and manly; throw aside principles, or the profession of principles, which at heart you have abandoned. Let there be no cant, or shallow, empty professions. Remove, so far as you can, by your words and example, the obstacles which hinder the efforts and labors of other zealous religionists. If you are unwilling to help the Church over which a Bishop presides to do its work of evangelization; if your convictions in favor of the authority of a divinely established Church cannot control your preferences for men, or your predilection for peculiar theories and schemes--O then, if not for consistency's sake, for the sake of principles and of duty, for Christ's sake, for Religion's sake, for the sake of the dying souls of your weak and sinning brethren--if you are unwilling, whatever be the motive, to help your Bishop and, in and through him, the Church over whose spiritual interests he presides, then be honest and manly. Don't prate about the divine rights of the Episcopate; drop your exclusiveness, and give a fair chance to Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists and R. Catholics to work the field which is white for the harvest."

I know this is plain talk. When the election of a Bishop in the Prot. Epis. Church is regarded by men, who call themselves Churchmen, as the ordinary election of a civil magistrate, or the appointment of an individual to the Presidency of a Collegiate institution, and what are considered his peculiar fitnesses for the office, or his claims to the high dignity, are regarded by individuals as the marks on the scale to indicate the amount of pecuniary support, moral aid, and efficient cooperation they are expected to give to the successor of an Apostle, then I hold that those who associate other ideas more sacred with the ministry established by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles, must not hold their peace, but boldly expose what they believe to be the inconsistencies, the errors and dangers of a most treacherous policy.

I do not consider myself an illiberal man either in my sentiments or acts. If I know my own heart, almost to an infirmity, I am disposed to please al! men. One thing as a believer, I often wish, that there were no such men upon earth as Presbyterians, Baptists, Universalists, Congregationalists, Methodists, R. Catholics, and High and Low and Broad Churchmen. I mean to say that I often devoutly wish that there were no denominational titles to distinguish the disciples of Jesus Christ, but the one which at first was given to them, "Christians." But we are not living in Apostolic times. We cannot appeal immediately to an Apostle for an opinion or judgment. We live in the midst of circumstances very unlike those among which S. Paul, S. Peter and S. John moved and acted. A man is obliged to adapt himself to the persons and things which surround him. lie has his convictions, say, about the peculiar form of the Church which the Lord Jesus Christ established. He identifies Episcopacy with that form or ecclesiastical organization, /thus associate the order of Bishops with the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with all the purposes of His incarnation, death and resurrection. According to my conception of spiritual things, then, it appears sacrilegious to say the least, if not positively blasphemous, to molest or thwart a Bishop in his holy endeavors, and this to gratify a mere suspicion, whim or prejudice.

Now let me say a few words about the Bishop elect. He is a son of Bishop Doane; and can therefore boast the name and lineage of one who, in talents, zeal, labors and self-sacrifice, I may add in cares, troubles and trials, has not, in my opinion, his superior on the roll of our American bishops. As evidence of sincerity in my words: I travelled hundreds of miles to pay my respect to his memory, chanting with two other priests, at the open grave, the words "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

The preacher then recalled another occasion, three months earlier, where he had joined in the singing of the same anthem, and when Bishop Doane himself committed to the earth "the body of his and my own dear and much revered friend." He told the story of the firm friendship subsisting between the two, the Bishop of New Jersey and Mrs. Mary Warren. When the telegram arrived announcing her death, the Bishop said: "Alas, how few are left to us! Who next?" "And the next was himself. So soon God heard the prayer of his parting words over her sacred and beloved dust, 'Sweet spirit! be it ours to follow thee as thou hast followed Christ, to bear with thee His Cross, to wear with thee His crown.'" The speaker continued:

But we must pass on. It is the son and not the father that now claims our attention. The Rev. William Croswell Doane does not owe his election to his name; on the contrary, a name identified with extraordinary zeal and exertions for the Church of Christ, is not always the surest pledge, in these days, of favor and patronage from Churchmen.

It was thought that Dr. Doane possessed physical, moral and mental qualities, which in a peculiar way, adapted him to the labors of organizing a new Diocese, and taking charge of its missionary work. He is strong and able to work, and is just as willing as he is strong and able to work. In a section of country like that which forms the larger part of this Diocese, where the Church has to be planted, religious services maintained by means of missionary agencies, places for public worship built, precisely as if organizing a Church in heathen lands--where we expect little sympathy, and look for much opposition; a large field, that rather rough and stony; few laborers and with little money to pay those few laborers and to hire more; no end of work, and but small resources to do it with--in such a section of the country by no means congenial to our ecclesiastical polity, we want a Chief Pastor who loves work, who never shirks toils and labors, who is able and willing to carry his full share of the burden, and help others who are not quite so vigorous and enduring as himself. We want a man in this new Diocese who not only loves to work, but knows how to work, how to lay plans and organize, how to devise and use expedients; who knows how to work himself, and how to make others work with him. This is a great want. It magnifies the power of one man a thousand fold. . . .

And as our Bishop is to open for the Church, as it were, new territory, in portions of which our creed is unknown and our customs strange, we need in this Diocese a man who knows what he believes and why he believes; who can give a reason for the faith that is in him, and that without compromising his honesty as a man, his charity as a disciple of the loving Jesus, and his dignity as a Christian Bishop. . . .

Now have we chosen such a Bishop? If we have not secured such a man for our Diocesan, then I am deceived in my hopes and expectations.

And if the testimonials are signed by a majority of the Standing Committees of the Dioceses, and the Bishop elect is consecrated, and thereby commissioned, as it were, by Apostolic authority to minister the affairs of this Diocese, then who, I ask, that recognizes the authority of a Bishop in our ecclesiastical organization, can withhold his cordial sympathy and active cooperation?

I speak not as a partisan, with a mind and heart pinched up by the bands and rivets of intolerance, bigotry and faction. I hold firmly my religious opinions and convictions; but I dare not measure other men's sincerity and wisdom by my own opinions and convictions, tenaciously as I grasp them. Neither do I speak now as the personal friend of the dear brother who has been elected to the Episcopate. I am not the advocate of a party or the apologist for a friend. I speak as the minister of Christ. I am trying to effect something for His honor and glory, and for the spiritual good of my fellow-men.

The preacher urged his brethren in faith and worship not to withhold sympathy, prayers, and pious endeavors; not "to punish a Christian brother and a Priest for being elevated to a holy office, which he neither sought nor wished," closing by the plea:

If he fail to accomplish what his Divine Master has commanded and commissioned him to do, through our jealousies, strifes, contentions, or through our neglect, our apathy, our lack of interest, love and zeal, whose glory is impaired, who is contemned, who is slighted and dishonored? And whose souls must bear the shame and remorse of that contempt and dishonor?

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