'Find your refuge': Mary Baker Eddy and hymns

Courtesy of the Mary Baker Eddy collection
. . . I am writing you in the midst of music, very sweet.

This brief statement is from a letter Mary Baker Eddy wrote to a student in March of 1882, a letter that tells us of her love of hymns, and their role in the culture of her time (see L02056, Eddy to Eldridge J. and Mollie Smith, March 26, 1882, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library). Long before there were CDs, radios, MP3 files, or even phonographs, the Victorian parlor was a center for live entertainment and daily inspiration. Recorded music was an innovation of the early 20th century, so instrumental performances and singing were to be found (and heard) in virtually every home in America in Mary Baker Eddy’s lifetime. And the tunes that were played and sung were often hymn tunes—religion was central to the lives of so many. No surprise, then, that the 19th century was a great era for hymns and hymn singing in the United States. And no surprise that Eddy deeply loved hymns, and often turned to them. 

Looking through the collections of The Mary Baker Eddy Library, I find some particularly touching accounts of Eddy and the hymns that inspired her from the early 1880s. The biographies of Mary Baker Eddy tell us this was an especially trying time. Shortly after she and her husband, Asa Eddy, moved to Boston to establish the Massachusetts Metaphysical College and teach classes in Christian healing, he fell ill and passed away. With difficulty she moved past this tragedy, only to find that opposition to her, her church and college, and to Christian Science, was at times overwhelming.

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Hymn 207 and finding Mom
February 20, 2012

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