Friday, July 25, 2008

Texts on Samplers

When we document a sampler, we are always careful to copy any texts exactly as they were stitched. The moralist verses can appear again and again throughout the 19th century. Since most of our stitchers failed to follow APA or MLA format, I often page through online hymnals in search of the author.

The 1851 Francis E. Hulme sampler contains four verses from three different sources: Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans. Charles Wesley (1707-1788), early leader of the Methodist church, wrote lyrics for 5000 to 8000 hymns, including "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing!" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!" Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was less prolific, with only 750 hymns to his credit. He does retain the title of "Father of English Hymnody," having the advantage of age over the upstart Wesley. Watts' verses include "Joy to the World!" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." Poet Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans (1793-1835) was well known in her life-time; Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth were among her admirers.

O God most merciful and true
Thy nature to my soul impart
Establish with me the covenant new
And stamp thine image on my heart

source: slight variant of Verse 1, “O God, Most Merciful and True,” words by Charles Wesley

We walk by faith of joys to come
Faith lives upon his werd
But while our body is our home
We’re absent from the Lord

source: Verse 4, Hymn 110, words by Isaac Watts

[L]o! the dream of [life is o’er]
[Pain] the Christians [lot] no more
Kindred spirit [rise] with me
Thine the [meed] of [victory]

[Significant thread loss indicated by brackets]

Now no more shall virtue faint.
Happy spirit of the saint.
Thine the halo of the skies.
Thine the seraph’s paradise.

source: Verses 1 and 3, “The Song of a Seraph” by Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans

Verse 1 is above the white house and Verse 3 is above the red house. Francis stitched Verse 1 in lavender wool thread, which has suffered loss. Verse 3 was worked in a light blue wool thread, which does not contrast sufficiently with the ground fabric to appear in the photograph.

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