Grand National Peace Jubilee (1869)
Illustrations show the announcement and the interior of the huge Coliseum for the five day National Peace Jubilee, held in Boston in June of 1869, from Patrick S. Gilmore's History of the National Peace Jubilee and Great Musical Festival (Boston, 1871).
This first Peace Jubilee was organized by band leader, Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, to commemorate the end of the Civil War, and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant attended the opening ceremonies.
The Peace Jubilee featured a band and orchestra of about 1,000 musicians plus soloists and members from 100 choral groups totaling of over 10,000 singers.
It was one of the first "monster concerts" and a forerunner of today's massive outdoor concerts of classical or rock music.
There was a new piece written for the National Peace Jubilee: "Hymn of Peace," in commemoration of the end of the Civil War and premiered during the First Day on June 15, 1869 [see No. 1 at left]
The words were written for the occasion by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) and set to "American Hymn" by Matthias Keller, and later included in the extensive collection titled, Heart Songs - Dear to the American People, published in 1909). Copies of the National Peace Jubilee music collection and Heart Songs are in the NEMA library.
These are the three verses of the hymn by Dr. Holmes:
Angel of Peace, thou hast wandered too long!
Spread thy white wings to the sunshine of love!
Come while our voices are blended in song—
Fly to our ark like the storm-beaten dove!
Fly to our ark on the wings of the dove,—
Speed o’er the far-sounding billows of song,
Crowned with thine olive-leaf garland of love;—
Angel of Peace, thou hast waited too long!
Brothers we meet, on this altar of thine
Mingling the gifts we have gathered for thee.
Sweet with the odors of myrtle and pine,
Breeze of the prairie and breath of the sea,
Meadow and mountain and forest and sea!
Sweet is the fragrance of myrtle and pine,
Sweeter the incense we offer to thee,
Brothers once more round this altar of thine!
Angels of Bethlehem, answer the strain!
Hark! a new birth song is filling the sky!
Loud as the storm-wind that tumbles the main,
Bid the full breath of the organ reply,
Let the loud tempest of voices reply,
Roll its long surge like the earth-shaking main!
Swell the vast song till it mounts to the sky! —
Angels of Bethlehem, echo the strain!
This hymn, edited and conducted by Roger Hall, was recorded in its first modern day performance in the 1980 Boston concert by the Old Stoughton Musical Society.
This second music festival took place in Boston and was to celebrate the end of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe. It was once again organized by Patrick S. Gilmore and took place in June of 1872. Known as the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival, it featured about 2,000 musicians in the orchestra and 20,000 in the chorus. Among the special invited guests were two European composers, Johann Strauss II and Franz Abt. Though it was considered a failure because of poor attendance, this was probably the largest ensemble of musicians ever assembled in one location in the United States during the 19th century. For the occasion a new piece titled, "Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck was composed and performed during the the second Peace Jubilee in 1872.
New England Choral Sampler: From The Pilgrims To Peace
a compilation of music, including the "Hymn of Peace"
from the National Peace Jubilee of 1869,
and "Festival Hymn" from the World's Peace Jubilee of 1872