Questions for the Archives

This article was written by parishioner Libby Browne.

The Historic St. Peter’s Committee has been asked to share some of the questions we receive about our historic church, so here is the first in what may be a continuing series. This was submitted by Nancy Fago, head of the Church Archives. She received this letter via Darryl Roland recently:

Greetings. My name is Adam La Spata. I am a Ph.D. student in musicology at the University of North Texas working on a dissertation on 18th-century psalmody in the Middle Colonies. To this end, I am interested in how music (especially Francis Hopkinson’s Collection of psalm tunes) was used in worship services at St. Peter’s. Do you know of any archival materials your church may have that might help me in my research?

Nancy replied, quoting “The Provincial and Revolutionary History of St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia 1753-1783  by CPB Jefferys  in the section titled X Music and Singing at St. Peter’s, 1761-1783:

” ‘Members of the congregation apparently got together and practiced special music to sing in St. Peter’s before a clerk was appointed.  At the opening service the words of the text of Provost Smith’s sermon ‘ which had been previously composed into an Anthem, were elegantly sung by a Number of Ladies and Gentlemen, to the vast Satisfaction of every Body present.’   [Pennsylvania Gazette 10 Sept., 1761]

“Francis Hopkinson, in 1763, made A collection of Psalm Tunes with a few Anthems and Hymns, for Use of the United Churches of Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia. A copy of this collection is preserved in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  This is prefaced by an open letter to Richard Peters in which the editor hopes and expects the Churches will have organs in the near future.”