Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flora Hamilton Cassel

Today is the birthday of composer and songwriter Flora Hamilton Cassel (August 21, 1852 - November 17, 1911). She was raised in the Baptist church in Illinois (where her father was a minister) and learned to play the piano at a young age.

In 1873 she graduated from the Maplewood Institure in Pittsfield, MA (now a collection of
condo-miniums), where she had studied music, including piano and composition. She returned to Illinois and found a teaching position at Shurtleff College, where she later met and married her husband, Elijah Taylor Cassel.

The Cassels collaborated on several songs for Sunday School children, he writing the words and she the music. Later, Flora would go on to write
song texts of her own. This song was written by the duo for the first convention of the Baptist Young People's Union in 1894.

From over hill and plain there comes the signal strain,
’Tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ;
Its music rolls along, the hills take up the song,
Of loyalty, loyalty, yes, loyalty to Christ.

“On to victory! On to victory!”
Cries our great commander, “On!”
We’ll move at this command,
And spread across the land,
In loyalty, loyalty,
Yes, loyalty to Christ.

O hear, ye brave, the sound that moves the earth around,
’Tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ;
Arise to dare and do, ring out the watchword true,
Of loyalty, loyalty, yes, loyalty to Christ.

The strength of youth we lay at Jesus’ feet today,
’Tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ;
The Gospel we’ll proclaim, throughout the world’s domain,
Of loyalty, loyalty, yes, loyalty to Christ.

Elijah Taylor Cassell, 1894; alt.
LOYALTY TO CHRIST (6.6.12.D. with refrain)
Flora Hamilton Cassel; 1894

The Cassels had moved to Nebraska by this time, where Flora became the president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) chapter in Edgar, NE. She compiled and edited White Ribbon Vibrations (1890), a popular temperance hymnal, which included many of her own songs.

Flora died in 1911, killed in a buggy accident (like Clara Scott before her).

Three Years Ago: Civilla Durfee Martin (another wife-husband team of collaborators)

Two Years Ago: Alexander Reinagle

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