Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (1826-1882)
In music-books for young people and the fireside are to be found the initials "M. B. C. S." Few people are acquainted with the history of this lady out of her own city and State, except the mere fact that she was the editor of a school publication of much interest and worth, called "Good Times," and wrote much for young people, especially school songs. She died in Fall River, Mass., in the spring of 1882, at the age of fifty-six. In her early life she was a teacher. Out of this experience came two successful books, "The Children's Hour," and "Exhibition Days." She was one of the editors of the "Journal of Education," edited the "School Festival," and conducted a department in the Philadelphia "School Day Magazine." She was a most prolific writer of Sunday-school and day-school songs. Children were her delight. She worked for them to the last under the shadow of the sickness that ended her life. Her one ambition was to prepare the young for the highest duties of life. Millions of young people owe good influences to her.A lifelong resident of Fall River, Massachusetts, Mary Bridges Canedy was born into a prominent and progressive family in that city. Her grandfather, John Luther, was one of the first dozen or so residents (Phillips, I:73). Mary's father, William B. Canedy, appears again and again in connection with public works committees (Borden, 514ff.), and served as a selectman (1812-1813) and as town clerk (1814-1815) (Centennial History, 239ff.). He was especially involved in the schools, having been named to the committee that conducted the first school census and set up the districts (Borden, 605), and serving on the School Committee in 1808, 1812, 1826, and 1827 (Centennial History, 240ff.).
|Squire Canedy house,|
Mary's childhood home
|Albion & Mary Slade home, today an office building|
|Mary Slade ca. 1850, Collection of |
the Fall River Historical Society
Though she never taught full-time again, Slade's heart was still in the classroom and her pen was rarely still. She filled up her spare time writing poetry, songs, plays, and other enrichment activities for young children. Her earliest publication appears to be "Birds and Angels," a moralizing poem published in The Child's Friend and Family Magazine, Feb 1, 1853 (American Periodicals, ProQuest). From that time on her various sobriquets "M. B. C. Slade", "Mary B. C. Slade", or just "M. B. C. S." turn up in a variety of education journals and children's and family magazines. For a sense of the variety of areas in which her work had an impact, she was published in the inaugural volume of the Indiana School Journal in 1856, was reprinted in The Sunday School Teacher, and was a frequent contributor to children's magazines such as Our Young Folks. She wrote a number of original teaching pieces for L. O. Emerson's Merry Chimes: A Collection of Songs, Duets, Trios, and Sacred Pieces (Philadelphia: Charles Trumpler, 1865), and was prominently featured in the preface to that work. In the last decade of her life she edited the "Department of Dialogues and School Entertainments" in Boston University's prestigious Journal of Education. Her magnum opus was The Children's Hour (Boston: Henry A. Young, 1880), "containing dialogues, speeches, motion songs, tableaux, charades, blackboard exercises, juvenile comedies, and other entertainments, for primary schools, kindergartens, and juvenile home entertainments."
It was only natural that Mary B. C. Slade would try her hand at song lyrics. To the excellent list at Hymnary.org I have added a few other discoveries, documenting 158 unique lyrics by Mary Slade (no doubt there were more) set to music by gospel song composers. In 1866 she broke into this field as a contributor to an interesting series called Our Song Birds, published by the Chicago firm Root & Cady. The children's music editor of Root & Cady, Benjamin R. Hanby, had the unusual concept of a children's secular song collection issued in quarterly parts, each named for a seasonal bird: The Snow Bird for January, The Robin (April), The Red Bird (July), and The Dove (October). Hanby's untimely death in 1867 brought the series to a close with two posthumous installments, The Blue Bird and The Linnet. Though it is uncertain if they ever met in person, Mary Slade corresponded with Hanby during the production of these songbooks (Gross, 70ff.). Slade contributed 16 lyrics to The Snow Bird, and 45 lyrics in all to a series that totaled 306 songs (Gross, Appendix C). (Coincidentally, the most famous result of this series was the Christmas song "Up on the house top" by B. R. Hanby in The Dove, but Mary Slade was not involved.)
|George F. Root|
|from The Amaranth (Nashville: Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1871)|
|Sinful cities||Thou Bethsaida, the lovely||Mt. 10:13-15|
|Come unto Me||Hark, the gentle voice of Jesus falleth||Mt. 11:28-30|
|The sower||Hear how a sower||Mt. 13:1-8,18-23|
|The mustard seed||Liken the kingdom to the springing||Matt. 13:31-32|
|The lost sheep||The ninety and nine, his dear ones that stay||Matt. 18:12-14|
|The two sons||A man had two sons||Matt. 21:28-31|
|The marriage of the king's son||Once a feast was made||Matt. 22:1-14|
|The ten virgins||Once, forth to meet the bridegroom||Matt. 25:1-13|
|The seed growing silently||So is the kingdom||Mark 4:26-29|
|Peace, be still!||Rocked upon the raging billow||Mark 4:37-41|
|Blind Bartimeus||As forth from the city||Mark 10:46-52|
|Mary's memorial||Mary her dear Master sought||Mark 14:3-9|
|The barren fig-tree||In the vineyard of the Master||Luke 13:6-9|
|The prodigal son||The younger son, unto his father||Luke 15:11-32|
|The Pharisee and the publican||Into the temple of God, one day||Luke 18:10-14|
|Let them come||O I love to think how Jesus||Luke 18:15-16|
|Jesus at Jacob's well||O come to the beautiful valley with me||John 4:4-42|
|The Master calleth for thee||Her sad vigil keeping||John 11:28-29|
|Behold I stand at the door||Knock! knock! hear Him knock!||Rev. 3:20|
|Happy pilgrims||To the heavenly Jerusalem||Rev. 21:2, 18-27|
|The golden city||Say, have you read in the story olden||Rev. 21:18-23|
|To Canaan||We are marching to Canaan||Ps. 7:14, 15, 25-29|
|Praise the Lord!||Praise the Lord, happy children||Ps. 149:1,2, 100:2, 18:1|
|The kingdom coming||From all the dark places|
Isa. 11:9, Rev. 11:15,
|The living waters||The prophet stands and he lifts his voice|
Isa. 55:1, John 7:37,
Good News was publised in 1876 by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston, one of the most prominent music publishers in the United States at the time. Oswalt provides evidence that McIntosh may have had leverage with Ditson because of an earlier copyright dispute (206-208), and that Ditson may have seen this as an opportunity to enter the Southern church music market with a recognized editor from the region (210). But McIntosh was also a proven success in producing good Sunday School music, not least because of the relationships he had built with lyricists. He noted in the preface of the work:
Most of the new hymns have been written by Mrs. Mary B. C. Slade, of Fall River, Mass., and Rev. Jos. H. Martin, of Atlanta, Ga., both of whom already occupy assured and leading positions in the hymnic literature of the country.
Mary Slade's work appears in 29 selections out of the 156 titles in Good News, and though she was exceeded in number by the aforementioned Joseph H. Martin with 35 songs, several of her new works proved to be far more lasting.
|The one astray||Ninety nine in the safe fold abiding||R. M. McIntosh|
|Tell it again||Into the tent where a gypsy boy lay||R. M. McIntosh|
|Beautiful Christmas||O'er the hills and adown the snowy dells||R. M. McIntosh|
|Bring the children||How happy were they||R. M. McIntosh|
|Christmas carol||Once o'er Judea's hills by night||R. M. McIntosh|
|To whom shall we go?||Hear, now, the blessed Jesus||R. M. McIntosh|
|Song for Centennial Day||Let us raise a song||R. M. McIntosh|
|Our choice||Thou, O Lord, all our sin and sorrow||R. M. McIntosh|
|Knocking at the door||Who at my door is standing||A. B. Everett|
|Seeking||What saith Jehovah, the holy one||R. M. McIntosh|
|Free waters||There's a fountain free||A. B. Everett|
|Hear Him calling||Are you staying, safely staying||A. B. Everett|
|Summer land||Beyond this land of parting||A. B. Everett|
|Loved one, farewell||Birds are rejoicing||A. B. Everett|
|Follow thou me||If I, like Galilee fishers||A. B. Everett|
|"Whosoever"||O'er the desert and dreary way||A. B. Everett|
Who at my door is standing
Beyond this land of partingFrom all the dark placesIf I like Galilee fishersAre you staying, safely stayingPraise the LordThere's a beautiful placeWe are marching to Canaan
Who at my door is standingHark! the gentle voiceBeyond this land of partingFrom all the dark placesIn the desert days of oldWhere the jasper walls are beaming
|C. C. Cline|
From all the dark placesIn the vineyard of the MasterRocked upon the raging billowsCome down beside the watersLiken the kingdom to the springingAs forth from the cityHear how a sower onceThe Master stood at the vineyard gateOnce a feast was madeHer sad vigil keepingThou Bethsaida, the lovelyIn the desert days of oldO I love to thinkIf I like Galilee fishersSay, who hath sorrowsThe sun is rising o'er the ocean
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee callingWho at my door is standing?Hark! the gentle voiceBeyond this land of partingThere's a fountain freeFrom all the dark placesThere's a beautiful placeI've stayed till lateAre you staying, safely stayingRocked upon the raging billowIn the desert, days of oldLook abroad o'er the fieldsLiken the kingdom to the springingThe ninety and nineAs forth from the citySay, who hath sorrowWhere the jasper walls are beamingSay, have you readIn the vineyard of the MasterTo the heavenly JerusalemOnce a feast was madeThere's a wail from the islands of the seaPraise the Lord! Praise the Lord!Once, forth to meet the bridegroom
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee callingWho at my door is standing?Hark! the gentle voiceThere's a fountain freeFrom all the dark placesThere's a beautiful placeAre you stayingWhere the jasper walls are beaming
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee callingWho at my door is standing?Hark! the gentle voiceBeyond this land of partingThere's a fountain free
New Wonderful Songs for Work and Worship (Firm Foundation, 1938)Standard Gospel Songs (Tillit S. Teddlie, 1940?)Gospel Songs and Hymns (Will W. Slater, 1944)Sacred Selections for the Church (ed. Ellis J. Crum, 1956)The Hymnal (Marion Davis Co., 1957)Majestic Hymnal no. 2 (Firm Foundation, 1959)Christian Hymnal (ed. J. Nelson Slater, 1963)The Great Christian Hymnal (ed. Tillit S. Teddlie, 1965)Songs of the Church (Howard Publishing, 1977)Church Gospel Songs & Hymns (ed. V. E. Howard, 1986)Hymns for Worship (ed. R. J. Stevens & Dane K. Shepard, 1988)Praise for the Lord (Praise Press, 1992)Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Sumphonia, 2012)
- Her language is direct and simple, but not childish. Slade was writing for youth, and mostly avoided the rhetorical flourishes of Victorian poetry, but she also avoided "cutesiness" and talking down to her readers. Her lyrics are understandable to children and still relevant to adults.
- She wrote close to Scriptural subjects, often with specific Scripture readings in mind, and led the reader to make application. When Jesus said "Follow Me," what might that require us to do? When He said, "I stand at the door and knock," what will be our answer?
- She often captured a certain spiritual longing, yet without becoming maudlin. In "There's a fountain free" the inclusiveness of the gospel call combines with a weariness and longing for rest and fellowship: "'Tis for you and me, and its stream I see / Let us hasten joyfully there." The third stanza of "Who at my door is standing?" plaintively expresses the frustration of a struggling believer, asking, "Jesus, art Thou not weary / Waiting so long for me?"
- Many of her best lyrics were set to attractive, singable, and appropriate music by Asa B. Everett, who will be the subject of a later post.
"Albion King Slade", FamilySearch. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LHKS-LT6
Borden, Alanson. Our Country And Its People: a Descriptive And Biographical Record of Bristol County, Massachusetts. [Boston]: Boston History Company, 1899. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009833153/
Bowman, John. Sweetly the Tones are Falling: a Hymnal History of Churches of Christ. Brentwood, Tennessee: Penmann Press, 1984.
A Centennial History of Fall River, Mass. New York: Atlantic Publishing, 1877.
Champlin, Kenneth. The Underground Railroad in Fall River, supplemented by the Fall River Historical Society. https://lizzieborden.org/exhibits/black-history-month-2017/
"Current events." Journal of Education (Boston University, School of Education), vol. 15, no. 16 (20 April 1882), page 255. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951000712620i?urlappend=%3Bseq=265%3Bownerid=13510798902710298-284
The Emerald, edited by Atticus G. Haygood and R. M. McIntosh. Nashville, Tennessee: Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1873. https://archive.org/details/emeson00hayg/
Fall River, Massachusetts. School Committee. Report of the General School Committee of the town of Fall River, 1845-46. Accessed via Sabin Americana Collection, Galenet.org.
Fowler, Orin. History of Fall River: With Notices of Freetown And Tiverton. Fall River, Massachusetts: Almy & Milne, Printers, 1862. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008733076/
Good News, edited by Rigdon McIntosh. Boston: Oliver Ditson Co., 1876. https://archive.org/details/goodnewsorsongst00mcin
Gross, Jeanne Bilger. Benjamin Russel Hanby, Ohio Composer-Educator, 1833-1867: His Contributions to Early Music Education. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1987.
Hall, J. H. Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1914.
McIntosh, Rigdon M., editor. Good News : Or, Songs and Tunes for Sunday schools, Christian Associations, and Special Meetings. Boston: Oliver Ditson & Company, 1876
Wilhoit, Mel R. "Root, George Frederick (1820-1895), composer and music educator." American National Biography. Oxford University Press. Date of access 1 May. 2022 https://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1801003