Wednesday, December 18, 2013

With a name like that...

...I'd also go by "H."

For quite some time I've been compiling biographical information about composers and arrangers whose tunes are in the Cooper editions of The Sacred Harp. I hope to eventually publish a book for those composers represented in the 2012 edition of the Cooper Book. I've gotten behind with my "Old Path" posts while working on this. So I'm giving you a sample of  what I'm doing -- here's "H. McMath" today. Anyone who bore the name "Hachaliah" throughout life deserves to be mentioned somewhere! 

Yes, I'd probably go by "H. McMath" also.

McMath, Hachaliah Jr. (July 20, 1843—October 16, 1916) was the youngest of 13 children born in Georgia to Hachaliah McMath and Elizabeth Harbuck. The McMaths lived in Sumter County, Georgia, from where the senior Hachaliah was elected as a State Representative in 1840. This family was in Henry County, Alabama by 1860, though some returned to Georgia. Hachaliah Sr. & Elizabeth are buried at the Shiloh Baptist Cemetery in Sumter County. The senior McMath's tombstone is engraved "Hachariah," though Hachaliah is probably correct. The name is biblical, from Nehemiah 1:1: "The words of Nehemiah, son of Hachaliah..." Hachaliah McMath Jr. married Elizabeth Marietta Prudence Shelly (1840—1934) and they had 9 children. They lived at Cottonwood in Houston County, where he had resided and farmed 40 years at the time of his death due to stomach cancer. H. McMath was a Mason and a Confederate veteran. He had one song and two arrangements added to the book in the 1909 edition. Cooper is an arrangement of Jordan by William Billings (see Steel, page 86). The McMath version adds notes to the treble part in the first five measures (equivalent to the first line of poetry). In the Billing's original the trebles are silent (Cf. 1991 Edition, p. 66). Sweet Rest was replaced with Judge Jackson's (q.v.) My Mother's Gone in 1992.My Soul's Delight was removed in 2006 to make room for the Coda ending of Love at Home. In this tune McMath used the words ofPenick (p. 387) but rearranged the words of the stanza to "Here lies the dust of H. Mc, His spirit sings at home." These words are inscribed upon his tombstone, where he and his wife lie at rest in the Ramah Baptist Church Cemetery in Houston County, Alabama. Interestingly, the 17 year old is listed in his father's household in the 1860 Henry County census as "H. Mc."
489      Cooper (arranged)
519a    My Soul's Delight (removed 2006)
519b    Sweet Rest (removed 1992)

You can view his tombstone HERE.

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