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Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Christmas Song -- John Collver 1828

The Collver (Colver / Culver) family who came over with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th century always had a religious streak. The first Collvers came over with the Puritans but either always were or quickly became Quaker like when they joined the Rogerenes. First settling Groton / Mystic Connecticut and later moving to Schooley's Mountain in New Jersey due to religious persecution by the Puritans, a group of the Collvers became "late loyalists" moving to Simcoe, Canada, to live under the rule of the British Crown. In Canada, the Collvers left behind their Quaker / Rogerene religiosity in favor of Presbyterianism. 

John Collver (b. 1768 - b. 1834), my 5th great grand uncle, wrote a hymnbook, which contains the "Christmas Song," featured in the video. The video features stanzas: 1, 2, 3, and 5. "A Christmas Song" was sung to an 18th century fuguing tune, "Lenox" by Lewis Edson.

A Christmas Song by John Collver, circa 1828.
(Stanzas sung in the Youtube video)
1. This is the glorious day,
When Jesus came on earth
To take our sins away;
Come, view his humble birth:
He's of an humble virgin born,
Made in the lowly human form.

2. Come, view the infant God,
With all his holy charms,
In union with our blood,
In the fond virgin's arms:
He is th' eternal darling son;
By him creation was begun.

3. Give glory to his name, 
To him all pow'r was given;
Made in the human from,
Th' eternal heir of heaven:
To him your christmas offerings bring,
He is the universal King.

5. Come, all ye saints above,
And angels round the King,
Send down your notes of love,
And help his praise to sing:
Join in the joyful jubilee,
His love remains for ever free.

Short biographic information about John Collver from The Long Point Settlers, "THE DOUBLE CULVER QUARTETTE."

"John Culver, third brother in the quartette, was born in New Jersey, in 1768, and was twenty-six years old when he built his log-cabin in the Townsend wilderness. He came a little in advance of his father and brothers, and was the first Culver to effect a settlement in Norfolk. They left New Jersey in early 1793,[11] but the season was spent somewhere about the Grand River, and they did not reach Norfolk before February or March, 1794. The ground was covered with snow, and after crossing the Grand River they had to chop their way through the brush entangled forest. When they reached a certain spot on which is now Lot 1, 11th concession, Townsend, they pitched their tent. The snow was cleared away from the prostate trunk of a huge tree, and a temporary shelter constructed with pine boughs and cow-hides. What a mighty transformation has been effected in Norfolk since Miriam Culver and her three babies cuddled together on a bed of pine boughs by the side of that log a hundred and three years ago! And what were the thoughts of the brave young pioneer as he guarded that rudely constructed couch all through the "silly watches" of that first night? In our imagination we can see the leaping flames and the radiating shadows. It is midnight, and stretching away in every direction is a vast, unbroken and densely wooded forest. Old Townsend's first permanent settler stands with his back to the crackling flames, and, with folded arms, peers into the outlying darkness.[12] Hark! What demonical, blood-curdling sound was that? He listens. It grows louder. On a bed of pine-boughs, by the side of a fallen tree, lies old Townsend's first pioneer mother. She has had a hard day's tramp through the forest, and has fallen into a deep sleep with her babies nestled snuggly in her arms. She is oblivious to her surroundings, and hears not the discordant howls of the blood-thirsty wolves. She is dreaming of her happy, far-away New Jersey home and the dear friends left behind. But the vigilant sentry disturbs not her slumbers. He heaps on more wood and sends the sparkling flames still higher, for well he knows that this is a certain means of warding off attacks of wild beasts.

John Culver was truely a pioneer of pioneers. He was a preacher, but never assumed the duties of the regular pastor. He was a poet, and in 1828 he wrote a volume of hymns which was published as the “Upper Canada Hymn Book.” He was somewhat eccentric in character, and towards the close of his life he became enamored with the doctrines of Universalism. He had five sons—Michael, Gabriel, Darius, John Mark and Hiram; and seven daughters—Rhoda, Sarah, Mary, Elizabeth, Miriam, Dorcas and Susanna. He died in 1834 in his 67th year, and his wife died in 1852, in her 80th year."

Collver, John. The Upper Canada Hymn Book, for All Christian Denominations With Other Pious Poems, on Various Subjects. St. Catharines [Ont.]: Printed at the Journal Office, for the author, 1828.

-- Rev. Albert B. Collver, Ph.D., 27 December 2014.

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