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Patrick S. Gilmore
The Boston Peace Jubilees


It is not generally known that there were three large Peace Jubilees held in Boston in the 19th century.

Thousands of musicians participated in concerts of classical music from Europe and America with invited guests from Europe, including various soloists and bands from different countries, including several highly respected musicians:
Franz Abt, Ole Bull and Johann Strauss Jr. (The Waltz King).

Read more about these Peace Jubilees by clicking the links below.





Patrick S. Gilmore and the Great National Peace Jubilee of 1869

World's Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival of 1872

20th Anniversary Peace Jubilee Concerts of 1889

CD-ROM: "Angel of Peace" - The Boston Peace Jubilees

Additional information






Great National Peace Jubilee



This five day music festival was organized and held in Boston, Massachusetts by the Irish-born composer and bandmaster, Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore [shown at left], to commemorate the end of the Civil War. He was also the one who composed the very popular Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant attended the opening ceremonies of the 1869 Peace Jubilee. Not known for being very musical, when asked which music he liked best, President Grant replied loudly: "the cannons!"

This Peace Jubilee featured a military band and orchestra of 1,011 musicians, plus many soloists and members from 103 choral groups totaling over 10,404 singers. Also several huge cannons used as sound effects for some of the music.

It was one of the first and biggest "monster concerts" in the USA during the 19th century with thousands participating.





In addition to the European classical music and a few patriotic songs, there was a new piece written especially for the National Peace Jubilee, titled: "Hymn of Peace." It was written in commemoration of the end of the Civil War and premiered during the First Day on June 15, 1869 [see No. 1 in the Programme at left]






(1)  Angel of peace, thou hast wandered too long;
          Spread thy white wings to the sunshine of love!
      Come while our voices are blended in song,
          Fly to our ark like the storm-beaten dove—
          Fly to our ark on the wings of the dove;
      Speed o’er the far-sounding billows of song,
         Crowned with the olive leaf garland of love;
      Angel of peace, thou hast waited too long!

 (2)   Brothers we meet on this altar of thine,
            Mingling the gifts we have gathered for thee;
        Sweet with the odors of myrtle and pine,
            Breeze of the prairie and breath of the sea—
            Meadow and mountain and forest and sea;
        Sweet is the fragrance of myrtle and pine,
            Sweeter the incense we offer to thee,
        Brothers once more round this altar of thine!

  (3)  Angels of Bethlehem, answer the strain!
            Hark! a new birth-song is filling the sky!
        Loud as the storm-wind that tumbles the main,
            Bid the full breath of the organ reply—
            Loud let the tempest of voices reply;
        Roll its long surge like the earth-shaking main!
            Swell the vast song till it mounts to the sky!
        Angels of Bethlehem, echo the strain!

         Words by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1869
         Music by Matthias Keller - “American Hymn,” 1866

SOURCE: Original sheet music, 1869.

The first recorded concert performance of this hymn was by
America's oldest surviving musical society, The Old Stoughton Musical Society Chorus, Richard Hill, organist, Roger Hall, conductor. It was recorded at Old West Church in Boston, Massachusetts in a concert celebrating the 350th anniversary of Boston in 1980.

To hear this performance (for listening only) -- click here





World's Peace Jubilee
International Music Festival


This second music festival took place in Boston and was organized to celebrate the end of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe. It was once again organized by Patrick S. Gilmore and took place in June of 1872.

Known as the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival, it featured over 1,000 musicians in the orchestra and approximately 20,000 in the chorus. One of the young violinists in the orchestra was
Edwin Arthur Jones
from Stoughton, Massachusetts, who would later become a composer and have his orchestra. Among the special invited guests were two European composers, Franz Abt and Johann Strauss Jr., who premiered his new "Jubilee Waltz" for this event. There were also bands invited from England, Ireland, France and Germany, as well as the U.S. Marine Band.

Though it was considered a financial failure because of smaller attendance than the 1869 Jubilee, this was probably the largest ensemble of musicians ever assembled in one location in the United States during the 19th century. For the occasion, several new pieces were composed.

One of them was titled, "Festival Hymn: Peace and Music," words and music by Dudley Buck, composed for the World's Peace Jubilee and premiered on June 18, 1872. The concert program describes the performance this way: "Full Chorus of Twenty Thousand Voices, accompanied by the Great Organ and Grand Ochestra of One Thousand Musicians."

This is the text written by Dudley Buck for his hymn:

O Peace! on thine upsoaring pinion,
Thro' the world onward flight taking,
Teach the nations their turmoil forsaking,
To seek thine eternal dominion.

From the Infinite Father descending,
O come with thine influence tender;
And show us how duly to render,
To Him our glad praise never ending,
O Music! thy source too is holy,
Thro' thy power ev'ry heart now uniting,
Why thy magic each true soul delighting,
Blessed bond 'twixt the high and the lowly,
Thro' thee, the great Father adoring.

Thy language is known to each nation,
Thro' thee, the vast Hymn of Creation,
From tongues without number outpouring,
O Music! O Peace!

Happy blending of voices and hearts,
Of voices and hearts in sweet lays,
In union, to God's holy praise,
Ever thus your pure influence lending.

Jehovah! thou Sov'reign of nations!
Sweet Peace to our land thou hast granted,
Be praises eternally chanted,
In Music forevermore!
Aye! forever more,
In Music forevermore.

This hymn has been recorded in its First Concert Performance and is available on the CD-ROM listed below.

Not everyone was pleased with this massive World's Peace Jubilee.

The influential and outspoken critic, John S. Dwight, wrote:

"The great, usurping, tyrannizing, noisy and pretentious thing is over, and there is a general feeling of relief, as if a heavy, brooding nightmare has been lifted from us all."

A more positive view was stated by Louis C. Elson, in The History of American Music:

"If the Peace Jubilee of 1872 did nothing else, it at least left a better repertoire to the country societies as a legacy."




20th Anniversary
Peace Jubilee Concerts

This festival was to celebrate the anniversary of the National Peace Jubilee twenty years earlier and like that one, this "Grand Anniversary Jubilee" took place in June. The dates were June 5-9, 1889 at the Mechanics Building in Boston.

The performers inclded a 1,000 voice chorus from Boston choral organizations, re-union Jubilee Chorus of 1,000 voices, and a Children's Chorus of 1,000 voices from Boston Public Schools.

The opening concert on June 5 began with the Overture to Richard Wagner's opera, "Tannhauser," by Gilmmore's Band and included Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" and closed with the patriotic song, "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

The complete programs for this Jubilee are on the CD-ROM listed below.










Now read about these historic events!

"Angel of Peace" - The Boston Peace Jubilees
by Roger Lee Hall
(PineTree Press)

This disc contains an image gallery
from all three Boston Peace Jubilees,
music examples including "Angel of Peace" and
"Jubilee Waltz" composed by Johann Strauss (The Waltz King)
for the World's Peace Jubilee in 1872,
plus historical information.

To order your copy of this CD-ROM computer disc
available by donation to help support
the Center for American Music Preservation (CAMP),
go to the store and look for
AMRE No. 1 --

click here



Additional information

"Hymn of Peace" (later titled "Angel of Peace") received the first modern day concert performance in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the City of Boston in 1980, sung by the Old Stoughton Musical Society Chorus, conducted by Roger Hall, at the Old West Church in Boston.

Read about this special Boston concert - click here




"Land of Our Hearts" -
American Songs of War and Peace



New edition for 2017!

"Dedication" -
Singing in Stoughton, 1762-1992



New revised edition

"Millennial Praise" -
Singing New Englanders:
From The Pilgrims to The Shakers







Read more about music in early New England music at

New England Music Archive




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