Some Recollections of Grace Church and its Choir


          My acquaintance with Grace Church Choir goes back almost to its infancy and a lusty infant it was.  In the Fall of 1891 I came to Davenport as a student at Griswold College, and tutor in Kemper Hall, the school for boys.  I became a postulant for holy orders and had a license as lay reader at large under Bishop Perry.  Grace Church was without a rector and I had charge of the Sunday services at intervals.  I came on Saturday afternoons and was entertained at the homes of the members who made me one of the family.  I used to look forward to the trip with eager pleasure and I now look back to those visits as happy memories.  The names of Rand, Cole, Case, Whitney, Holmes, Ashton, Disbrow, Gardiner, Welles are synonyms for hospitality and fellowship that left an indelible impression.  I used to select one of Phillips Brooks or Robertson’s sermons, copy it on the most approved style of sermon paper and carry it into the pulpit in a most gorgeous sermon cover.  A little later the bishop gave me a license to deliver addresses and even now I marvel at the patience of the Lyons congregation with my youthful efforts.  I remember how very proud I felt when one of the vestry congratulated me on my first sermonette.  The subject was “Humility”!  The text was “be clothed with humility.”  The choir was the big factor in holding the congregation together in those days and it was of the music and the reverence of the service.  Attendance was large and there was an atmosphere of interest.  Every one responded in the psalter and at the creed.  The spirit of worship was evident and pronounced.

          Miss Rand was the incarnation of faithfulness.  Her devotion to the choir was marvelous.  She brought to her work not only a thorough knowledge of the music of the church but a personal interest that placed her immeasurably beyond the mere professional. This personal touch was the secret of the confidence she inspired.  I think of the choir not alone as an important element in the up-building of Grace Church but as a medium of religious education for the boys themselves.  No one can measure the influence of Grace Choir on the spiritual development of its members.  There are doubtless many in the community today who point back to choir days as the source of the finest inspiration of life.

          I left Iowa at the end of the college year in 1892.  From time to time I have paid flying visits to Lyons and have known several of the rectors—Weaver, Tyler, Jones and Leete.  Some years before his death I was a guest of Dr. Weaver at Princess Anne, Maryland, and we lived over again the happy days of Lyons.  I have never ceased to recall my association with Grace Church as one of the most pleasant experiences of my whole life.  For the sake of dear, good, devoted Miss Rand, the choir must carry on.  It must do for the lads of the present what it did for those of a generation ago.  Its obligation rests on us like that of Flanders Fields.  We must keep fealty with the Saints who have gone before to whose fidelity Grace Choir is an everlasting memorial.

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