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Mason, Lowell, 1792-1872



  • Existence: January 8, 1792 - August 11, 1872


Music educator, church musician, composer and anthologist. An advocate of congregational participation in church music, he is best known for establishing curricular music in American public schools. In addition to compiling tune books with instructional materials for schools and churches, he composed and arranged hundreds of hymn tunes, some of which are still used. Through the success of his books, most of them for schools or churches, Mason's preference for European styles spread across the USA.

Mason's influence on American music is generally regarded as a mixed blessing. Although he established music as an integral part of public school education, he replaced the indigenous fuging tunes and anthems of 18th-century America with hymn tunes and anthems arranged from European music or imitations based on ‘scientific’ principles producing ‘correct’ harmonies. Among his lasting hymn tunes, composed or arranged, are ‘Antioch’ (Joy to the World), ‘Bethany’ (Nearer my God to thee), ‘Hamburg’ (When I survey the wondrous cross), and ‘Olivet’ (My faith looks up to thee). Mason and Thomas Hastings, both of whom opposed the more folk like musical idioms of revivalism, jointly compiled Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1832) to counteract the influence of the revivalist Joshua Leavitt's popular Christian Lyre (1830).

(These paragraphs excerpted from Oxford Music Online, Harry Eskew and Carol A. Pemberton)