Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thrilling Music at Ephrata

Those who visited Ephrata during its active period were impressed by many things but perhaps most of all by the unusual singing. A graphic description was penned by an Anglican clergyman, Jacob Duche, of Philadelphia. His letter was written in 1772 and originally published in a newspaper, the Pennnsylvania Packet.

I shall at present remark but one thing more, with respect to the Dunkers, and that is, the peculiarity of their music. Upon a hint given by my friend, the sisters invited us into their chapel, and, seating themselves in order, began to sing one of their devout hymns. The music and little or no air or melody, but consisted of simple, long notes, combined in the richest harmony. The counter, treble, tenor, and bass were all sung by women, with sweet, shrill, and small voices, but with a truth and exactness in the time and intonation that was admirable.

It is impossible to describe to your Lordship my feelings upon this occasion. The performers sat with their heads reclined, their countenances solemn and dejected, their faces pale and emaciated from their manner of living, their clothing exceedingly white and quite picturesque, and their music such as thrilled to the very soul. I almost began to think myself in the world of the spirits, and that the objects before me were ethereal.

In short, the impression this scene made upon my mind continued strong for many days, and I believe, will never be wholly obliterated.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia