A beloved anthem

I read with interest the article by Bradley Kauffman about “Dedication Anthem” (“Make the Chorus Swell,” Nov. 27). Thinking about how to broaden our invitation is important for a hymnal to appeal to all types of churches and worship styles. The story of how the anthem became beloved by Mennonites and the approach to include it in Voices Together is well told.

Some readers may be interested to know how “Dedication Anthem” traveled from the Boston Handel and Haydn Society to music so that “the Virginians already knew it well,” as Mary Oyer recalled. In 1876 Joseph Funk, a Mennonite publisher, included it in the Harmonia Sacra, a book of hymns and anthems to be used in teaching people to sing often in singing schools. First published in 1832 in Virginia, the book helped Mennonites transition from singing in unison from hymnals without music to singing in four-part harmony.Singings using the Harmonia Sacra are held monthly in the Shenandoah Valley. “Dedication Anthem” has probably been sung at every New Year’s Day singing at Weavers Mennonite Church near Harrisonburg since 1903 ex­cept for the years of the flu epidemic. It will be canceled again this year because of the current pandemic.

Gary Smucker, Alexandria, Va.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!