"On the landing of Mother Ann in America"
A Commemorative Shaker Hymn
The most important anniversary celebrated each year by the Shakers is the arrival of their spiritual leader, Mother Ann Lee (1736-1784), and a small number of Believers in America.
They left Liverpool, England in May and arrived in New York City on August 6, 1774. This is a very important date because it signifies the beginning of the Shaker Church in America. The event was often celebrated vy Shakers with special new songs and hymns, and the last remaining Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, Maine still celebrate this landing in America.
One of the hymns composed for the occasion is titled, "On the Landing of Mother Ann in America," and it had four verses.
This is the first verse:
O hail this happy welcome day,
When blessed Mother Ann
First landed in America
With her devoted band.
How did the wilderness resound
With Angel's songs of praise
When they on fair Columbia's ground
The gospel standard raised.
Again let the forest loudly resound,
Dear Children of Mother;
Her beautiful way our Spirits have found,
Surpassing all others.
This hymn was written at North Union (today Shaker Heights, Ohio) just before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860 by an unknown Shaker member.
It was discovered and first introduced by Roger Hall during the Bicentennial Conference at Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio in October of 1974. Then it was sung by him the following month when the Sabbathday Lake Shakers were in Shaker Heights for a teacher's workshop, and just after they met the distinguished composer, Aaron Copland, known for his arrangements of the best known Shaker song, "Simple Gifts."
The complete version of "On the landing of Mother Ann in America" was edited by Roger Hall and published in this sheet music collection with accompanying CD, performed by The Sampler Chorus:
Love is Little: A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals