Shakerism is a system which has a distinct genius, a strong organization, a perfect life of its own, through which it would appear to be helping to shape and guide, in no small measure, the spiritual career of the United States.
-- Hepworth Dixon, 1867

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Famous Shakers

One of our most famous members are Issachar Bates. He was the musician who wrote the song “Come Life, Shaker Life”, In 1805, he left from New Lebanon, New York for an extended trip with two other Shaker missionaries, John Meacham and Benjamin S. Youngs. Their travels took them to Kentucky and Ohio where the camp meeting revivals had taken place. Bates was the musician who sang at the first official Shaker meeting in the West at Turtle Creek, Ohio on May 23, 1805.
Before he joined the Shakers in 1801, Bates had served in the American Revolution as a young fifer and had learned many of the tunes of that time. He used one of these tunes in his early Shaker hymn, "Rights of Conscience,” a ballad hym that pays a tribute to George Washington, and founder of Shakers, Ann Lee, all to the tune of “The President’s March.”
Later on, Bates became a prominent Shaker church leader, and served mainly at Watervliet, Ohio. He wrote many Shaker spirituals, including an anthem, "Mount Zion," and the hymn, "Ode to Contentment," with words by Elder Richard Pelham from the Shaker community at North Union, Ohio.
Bates returned to New Lebanon, New York in 1835 and the following year completed his lively and informative autobiography. He remained at New Lebanon until his death on March 17, 1837. As per his request, "Almighty Savior," a hymn which he had composed, was sung at his funeral.

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