Monday, May 13, 2013

Sacred Harp Hymnwriter buried in Nacogdoches

Mrs. Mary Shindler was a significant 19th century American Christian hymnwriter. She published hymn books, including The Southern Harp in 1840 and The Northern Harp in 1841. One of her hymns still found in popular 20th century hymnals (such as The Broadman Hymnal and the National Baptist Hymnal) has 4 lines inscribed on her tombstone:

     Flee as a bird to your mountain,
     Thou who art sick of sin;
     Go to the clear flowing fountain,
     Where you may wash and be clean

At least four of her hymns appear in The Sacred Harp, a 19th century tune book that is still used at singing conventions in East Texas:

(first lines)
  O sing to me of heaven When I am called to die (312, Cooper 2012)
Soft, soft, music is stealing, Sweet, sweet lingers the strain (323b, Cooper 2012)
  Shed not a tear o’er your friend’s early bier (339, 459, Cooper 2012)
There’s not a bright and beaming smile (410, Cooper 2012)

Other popular hymns by Mrs. Shindler include “I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger” and the temperance hymn “Sparkling and bright in its liquid light...”

Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, February 15, 1810. She was the daughter of Mary Bunce and Benjamin Morgan Palmer, a Congregational Church pastor at Beaufort. In 1835 Mary married Charles W. Dana of New York, and they moved to Iowa in 1839. After her husband and 2 year-old son died of cholera that summer, she returned to Beaufort.

In May 1848 Mary married Robert Doyne Shindler, an Episcopal clergyman. Sometime after the Civil War, Robert and Mary moved to Texas. He served as a school teacher in San Augustine and rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Nacogdoches. He died in 1874.

Mary Shindler lived with her son and daughter-in-law R. C. and Anna Mary Shindler until her death on February 8, 1883, in Nacogdoches, Texas. She is buried in the historic Oak Grove Cemetery near downtown Nacogdoches.

Mary Shindler was the great-great-grandmother of former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The Southern Harp (Boston, 1840)
The Northern Harp (New York, 1841)
The Parted Family, and other Poems (1842)
The Temperance Lyre (1842)
Charles Morton, or the Young Patriot (1843)
The Young Sailor (1844)
Forecastle Tour (1844)
Letters to Relatives and Friends on the Trinity (1845)

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