1792–1872
portrait

Jan­u­a­ry 8, 1792, Med­field, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Au­gust 11, 1872, at his home, Sil­ver Spring, in Or­ange, New Jer­sey.

Rose­dale Ce­me­te­ry, Or­ange, New Jer­sey.

portrait
portrait

Lowell was the son of John­son Ma­son and Ca­ty Harts­horn, hus­band of Ab­i­gail Gre­go­ry, and fa­ther of Will­iam Ma­son.

Lowell showed an in­tense in­ter­est in mu­sic from child­hood. He lived in Sa­van­nah, Geor­gia, for 15 years, work­ing as a bank clerk, but pur­su­ing his true love—mu­sic—on the side. He stu­died with Fried­rich Le­o­pold Abel, im­prov­ing his skills to the point where he be­gan com­pos­ing his own mu­sic.

Numerous pub­lish­ers in Phil­a­del­phia and Bos­ton re­ject­ed his ear­ly work, un­til it was fin­al­ly ac­cept­ed in 1822 by the Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty of Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts, his na­tive state. How­ev­er, the col­lec­tion did not ev­en car­ry Ma­son’s name:

I was then a bank of­fic­er in Sa­van­nah, and did not wish to be known as a mu­sic­al man, as I had not the least thought of ev­er mak­ing mu­sic a pro­fes­sion.

Little did he know that re­ject­ed col­lection would even­tu­al­ly go through 17 ed­i­tions (some sourc­es say 21) and sell 50,000 co­pies. It was adopt­ed by sing­ing schools in New Eng­land, and ev­en­tu­al­ly church choirs.

After see­ing the suc­cess of his work, Ma­son re­turned to Bos­ton in 1826. He al­so be­came the di­rec­tor of mu­sic at the Han­o­ver, Green, and Park Street church­es, al­ter­nat­ing six months with each one. Fin­al­ly, he made a per­ma­nent ar­range­ment with the Bow­doin Street Church, though he still held his job as tel­ler at the Am­er­i­can Bank.

Mu­sic con­tin­ued to pull on him, though: He be­came pre­si­dent of the Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty in 1827.

It was in Bos­ton that Ma­son be­came the first mu­sic teach­er in an Am­er­i­can pub­lic school. In 1833, he co-found­ed the Bos­ton Acad­e­my of Mu­sic. In 1838, he be­came mus­ic su­per­in­tend­ent for the Bos­ton schools. Ma­son wrote ov­er 1,600 re­li­gious works, and is oft­en called the fa­ther of Amer­i­can church mu­sic.

The fol­low­ing bi­o­graph­ic­al sketch ap­peared 10 years af­ter Ma­son’s death, in The Song Friend, Vol­ume 3, num­ber 5 (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: Sol­o­mon W. Straub, 5 March 1882), page 1.

Dr. Low­ell Ma­son, the fa­ther of Hen­ry Ma­son and Low­ell Ma­son, of the Ma­son & Ham­lin Or­gan Co., and Dr. Wm. Ma­son, the em­in­ent com­pos­er, was born in Med­ford [sic], Mass., Jan. 8, 1792. At 21 years of age he re­moved to Sa­van­nah, Ga., where he re­mained for four­teen years; de­vot­ed hims­elf to teach­ing vo­cal and in­stru­ment­al mu­sic; was or­gan­ist and choir-lead­er in one of the larg­est church­es, and was al­so en­gaged in the ser­vice of one the bank­ing hous­es.

At the age of 35 he re­turned to Bos­ton, where for ma­ny years he was con­duc­tor of the Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty. He al­so, in con­nec­tion with Mr. George James Webb, es­tab­lished the Bos­ton Acad­e­my of Mu­sic, the first reg­u­lar­ly char­tered music-school in the coun­try, and in­tro­duced sing­ing as a branch of in­struc­tion in the pub­lic schools.

Shortly af­ter his re­turn from the South he is­sued his first church mu­sic book, The Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty’s Col­lec­tion, fol­lowed by the Car­mi­na Sac­ra and oth­ers which have been in­stru­ment­al in pop­u­lar­iz­ing the stu­dy of church mu­sic, and which com­plete­ly re­vo­lu­tion­ized the char­ac­ter of the mu­sic in use in our church­es.

He was for a long time in­tim­ate­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with Dr. Wood­bridge, Hor­ace Mann and oth­er cel­e­brat­ed re­form­ers in pop­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion, and de­vot­ed much time and la­bor to the in­struc­tion and train­ing of teach­ers of sing­ing in Nor­mal schools es­tab­lished for that pur­pose.

The lat­er years of his life were spent for the most part at his home, Sil­ver Spring, in Or­ange, New Je­rsey, where he died Au­gust 11, 1872, at the age of eigh­ty years.

Many peo­ple not per­sonal­ly ac­quaint­ed with Dr. Ma­son fall in­to the mis­take of at­trib­ut­ing his suc­cess to a hap­py com­bin­a­tion of cir­cum­stanc­es, as the pro­fes­sion of mu­sic of­fered a com­par­a­tive­ly new and un­oc­cu­pied field of en­ter­prise at the time he en­tered it.

The truth is, Dr. Ma­son would have been equal­ly dis­ting­uished in any pro­fes­sion; he would have made a great law­yer, judge, or phy­si­cian, had he chos­en the pro­fess­ion of law or me­di­cine.

He was not a great mu­si­cian, per­haps in the tech­ni­cal sense. He was not a great sing­er or play­er or com­pos­er. But he was a great man; he had that keen, log­ic­al and an­a­lyt­ic­al qual­i­ty of mind which en­a­bled him to go to the root of things. He saw that all gen­u­ine re­form must be­gin at the foun­da­tion.

At the time he is­sued his first book for use in sin­ging-schools the text books of mu­sic­al no­ta­tion con­tained only a con­fused jum­ble of ob­scure and con­tra­dic­to­ry statem­ents, with a few ex­er­cis­es for prac­tice, thrown to­ge­th­er with­out much re­gard be­ing paid to an­y­thing like or­der­ly ar­range­ment or meth­od. Dr. Ma­son changed all this, and gave us a sys­tem of no­ta­tion which for clear­ness of state­ment, and or­der­ly, pro­gres­sive ar­range­ment, is un­sur­passed.

No pe­rson could be brought in­to con­tact with Dr. Ma­son with­out feel­ing the in­flu­ence of this strong per­son­al­i­ty, and we can safe­ly say that this in­flu­ence was al­ways in the right di­rec­tion. He had that sim­ple dig­ni­ty and no­bil­i­ty of char­ac­ter which seemed to stim­u­late and pur­i­fy the pur­pos­es and aims of those who came un­der his in­flu­ence. No man hat­ed fals­ehood and shams more hear­ti­ly than he, or de­tect­ed and ex­posed them with great­er keen­ness and cer­tain­ty.

Mason’s works in­clude:

  1. Admah
  2. Adwell
  3. Ahaz
  4. Ain
  5. Ae
  6. Alvan
  7. Amboy
  8. Anah
  9. Antioch
  10. Anvern
  11. Apheka
  12. Arfau
  13. Ariel
  14. Arnville
  15. Ashwell
  16. Ayrton
  17. Azmon
  18. Baim
  19. Ballington
  20. Bealoth
  21. Beer-Shean
  22. Beethoven
  23. Belville
  24. Bethany
  25. Boylston
  26. Bradnor
  27. Brattle Street
  28. Brentford
  29. Brest
  30. Calaveras
  31. Capello
  32. Carmi
  33. Carnes
  34. Chimes
  35. Claremont
  36. Corydon
  37. Coventry
  38. Cowper
  39. Cyprus
  40. Dallas
  41. Danvers
  42. Darien
  43. Das Lieb­en Bringt Groß Freud
  44. Dennis
  45. Dort
  46. Downs
  47. Eden
  48. El Pa­ran
  49. Eltham
  50. Ernan
  51. Evan
  52. Farnham
  53. Ford
  54. Frenor
  55. Gadara
  56. Gerar
  57. Gregorian
  58. Haddam
  59. Hamburg
  60. Hamul
  61. Hanwell
  62. Hartel (sim­i­lar to Mer­i­bah)
  63. Harwell
  64. Harwich
  65. Hebron
  66. Hendon
  67. Henley
  68. Hermon
  69. Highton
  70. Hilkiah
  71. Hirah
  72. Illa
  73. Ingham
  74. Iscah
  75. Israel
  76. Inverness
  77. Kane
  78. Kimball
  79. Laban
  80. Langdon
  81. Leni
  82. Litchfield
  83. Lowell
  84. Little Pil­grim, The
  85. Luz
  86. Malvern
  87. Mendebras
  88. Merdin
  89. Meribah
  90. Migdol
  91. Missionary Hymn
  92. Mond
  93. Moriah
  94. Mount Ver­non
  95. Mount Zi­on
  96. Murphy
  97. Murray
  98. Nain
  99. Naomi
  100. Nashville
  101. Nayton
  102. Norwich
  103. Oak
  104. Oliphant
  105. Olivet
  106. Olmutz
  107. Olney
  108. Orrington
  109. Orwell
  110. Ostend
  111. Ottawa
  112. Ovio
  113. Parbar
  114. Peal
  115. Penfield
  116. Punon
  117. Putney
  118. Reo
  119. Ripley
  120. Rockingham
  121. Rodman
  122. Rowley
  123. Sabbath
  124. Sale
  125. Selvin
  126. Serug
  127. Shalem
  128. Shawmut
  129. Shinar
  130. Snowfield
  131. Star of Peace
  132. Timna
  133. Trell
  134. Upton
  135. Ur
  136. Uxbridge
  137. Ward
  138. Watchman
  139. Wesley
  140. Whiteland
  141. Wilbraham
  142. Wilmot
  143. Work Song
  144. Wye
  145. Zebulon
  146. Zerah