Thomas Walter

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Born: 13 December 1696, Roxbury, Massachusetts

Died: 10 January 1725, Roxbury, Massachusetts


American Congregational minister and school teacher. Known primarily for The Grounds and Rules of Musick, 1721, the earliest American tunebook. Walter was the second son of Rev. Nehemiah Walter (1663-1750) and Sarah Mather Walter (1671-1746); Sarah was the sister of Cotton Mather and daughter of Increase Mather (1639-1723). These three ministers were among the fifteen eminent signers of ‘A Recommendatory Preface’ of the Grounds and Rules, which exhorted "that the main concern of all may be to make [the singing of the songs of the Lord] not a mere bodily exercise, but sing with grace in their hearts and with minds attentive to the truths in the Psalms which they sing, and affected with them, so that in their hearts they make a melody to the Lord." Walter graduated from Harvard in 1713 and went on to teach in Dedham, Mass., then was ordained as assistant to his clergyman father at the First Church in Roxbury in 1718. He lectured on psalmody in the 1720s.

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  • Walter, Thomas. 1721. The Grounds and Rules of Musick Explained: Or, An Introduction to the Art of Singing by Note Fitted to the Meanest Capacities. Boston: J. Franklin, for Samuel Gerrish. Further editions in 1721, 1723, 1740, 1759, 1765, and 1766.

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