Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Mayflower descendant, and PILGRIM SONG, a poem

Mrs. Coates was the tenth founding member (1896) of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (SMDPA), a society which still exists today. She was a ninth generation descendant of Pilgrim John Howland:

John TILLEY (passenger) married Elizabeth CARVER; and had Elizabeth TILLEY, who married John HOWLAND (passenger); and had Desire HOWLAND, who married Capt John GORHAM; and had Lt. Col. John GORHAM, who married Mary OTIS; and had Stephen GORHAM, who married Elizabeth GARDNER; and had Susannah GORHAM, who married Daniel PADDACK; and had Deborah PADDACK, who married George HUSSEY; and had Uriel HUSSEY, who married Phebe FOLGER; and had Mary HUSSEY, who married THOMAS EARLE; and had George Hussey EARLE, Sr., who married Ellen Frances VAN LEER; and had Florence Van Leer EARLE.

Mrs. Coates wrote the following poem for the Society some time prior to 1900:

PILGRIMS of the trackless deep,
     Leaving all, our fathers came,
Life and liberty to keep
     In Jehovah's awful name.
Neither pillared flame nor cloud
     Made the wild, for them, rejoice,
But their hearts, with sorrow bowed,
     In the darkness heard His voice.
Things above them they divined—
     Thoughts of God, forever true,
And the deathless Compact signed—
     Building better than they knew:
Building liberty not planned,
     Law that ampler life controls,
All the greatness of our land
     Lying shadowed in their souls.
In the days that shall succeed,
     Prouder boast no time shall grant
Than to be of them, indeed,
     Children of their Covenant:
Children of the promised day,
     Bound by hope and memory,
Brave, devoted, wise, as they—
     Strong with love's humility.

Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and subsequently in Poems (1916) Volume I as "Pilgrim Song." The poem was set to music as a hymn in 1900, with music by Thomas Whitney Surette. According to the Pennsylvania Mayflower (Winter 2010-2011), "The Pilgrims" was sung by members and guests "at the annual meeting of the SMDPA in Philadelphia" on 16 February 1900.

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