Over the course of the 334-year history of King’s Chapel, ministers have contributed a substantial amount to the church’s written history. A large portion of these written works consists of sermons given as part of these ministers’ regular responsibilities—sermons for weekly services, as well as those celebrating a marriage or baptism, or commemorating a life at a funeral service. However, many historic ministers of King’s Chapel also wrote poems, prose, hymns, or histories on subjects religious or otherwise. The following are some such ministers and their written achievements:
The Reverend Francis William Pitt Greenwood (1797-1843) succeeded James Freeman as minister of King’s Chapel. A great lover of music and poetry, Greenwood compiled and published collections of his favorite hymns and poems, of which one--A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Christian Worship—became particularly popular and was widely used among churches. Additionally, Greenwood published articles in various publications including The Christian Examiner, for which he also contributed as an editor.
The Reverend Ephraim Peabody (1807-1856) was the minister of King’s Chapel for about a decade before his death, though he also served other congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Throughout his life, Peabody contributed as a writer and editor for religious literary magazines, including The Western Messenger and The Christian Register. One of Peabody’s published poems, “New-England Emigration Westward”, was presented in front of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard in 1835. He came to King’s Chapel toward the end of his career, when he was already a prolific writer, yet continued to publish works. In addition to his published poetry and prose, Peabody wrote poems intended for a sole recipient: his wife, Mary Jane. For years, Ephraim Peabody wrote a new love poem for his wife in celebration of her birthday. Folders of these poems remain in King’s Chapel’s collection today, allowing us a glimpse of Peabody’s more private writings.
The Reverend Henry Wilder Foote (1838-1889) worked as minister of King’s Chapel for 28 years. In the course of his regular ministerial duties, Foote wrote and delivered the eulogy for Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, whose funeral was held at the church in March of 1874. A scholar and historian as well as a minister, Henry Wilder Foote devoted much of his time at King’s Chapel to compiling a detailed history of the church: its founding, buildings, and people. Eventually this work was published in 1882 as a two volume set called The Annals of King’s Chapel from the Puritan age of New England to the present day. By now, quite a lot of time has passed since its publication, and yet the annals remain a valuable resource for anyone seeking information about the early days of King’s Chapel.
View books and writings owned and written by these minsters:
The Reverend Francis William Pitt Greenwood
Pages from Greenwood's handwritten and illustrated collection of his favorite poetry:
The Reverend Ephraim Peabody
Birthday Poem from Rev. Ephraim Peabody to his wife, Mary Jane Derby (n.d.)