Jeremiah Ingalls

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Born: 1 March 1764, Andover, Massachusetts

Died: 6 April 1838 (or 1828?), Hancock, Vermont

Biography Jeremiah Ingalls "was a cooper by trade and a singing master by profession. He was mainly self-taught, possessed a sweet and powerful tenor voice and great aptness in teaching vocal music, as it was taught in those days. . . . He composed a funeral anthem for the death of George Washington in 1800. He composed the music for the "Election Ode" and "Election Hymn," which were sung at the meeting of the General Assembly in 1801, when the election sermon was preached in the old meeting house [of the First Congregational Church in Newbury] . . . . Mr. Ingalls came to Newbury about 1787, and married April 29, 1791, Mary (Polly) Bigelow, daughter of Joshua and Alajora (Knowlton) Bigelow … She was born March 16, 1768. … He died April 6, 1838, and his wife died April 14, 1848."

"The following critical paper upon Mr. Ingalls' production was prepared by Rev. S. L. Bates of Burlington:

". . . The singing book, "Christian Harmony" . . . served important ends without any apparent design on the part of its author. It contributed indirectly to the peaceful issue of a long continued controversy over singing in public worship, and gave to the public a style of music, at that time needed by the New England churches. For a large part of the eighteenth century many churches had been rent asunder and whole communities set ablaze by heated discussions on the subject of singing in the worship of God. Conscientious Christian people not a few, considered it a positive sin to sing by rule or even to attempt any adequate expression of the words employed in song. Naturally the singing in the churches became distracting and subversive of spiritual religion, and at last provoked measures for reform in its character. Hence the protracted controversy which extended through so many years and ended only as a better style of singing prevailed. One of the important means by which the reform in singing in worship in those days was rendered permanent and peace restored in the churches was the publication of numerous collections of church music. In the space of about 30 years beginning with 1770, the average issue of tune books was at least one for each year. . . . He seems to have entertained himself by depicting in verse the character and death of some personal friends, and thus composing tunes for his weak productions. The acrostic on the name of Judith Brock is one instance of this freak, and others are lines on the death of Judith Brock and Polly Gould, each numbering eighteen stanzas, with accompanying tunes . . ." (Wells 1902, pp. 580-582).

Jeremiah Ingalls is remembered for his 1805 compilation The Christian Harmony, the first published source for a number of works believed to be his own compositions, for works by his contemporary New England composers, and for many folk-hymns, for which he may have written the 4-part arrangements. Ingalls became the choirmaster at the Congregational Church in Newbury, Vermont in 1791, and apparently held that position until after 1805, though eventually he was excommunicated from the church in 1810.

The 1991 edition of the "Denson" Sacred Harp contains four songs credited to Ingalls: 24 The Young Convert, 155 Northfield, 240 Christian Song, and 299 New Jerusalem (Steel and Hulan 2010). The first and last, especially, are very frequently sung. Many other songs in the Sacred Harp have their first published source in Ingalls' The Christian Harmony.

View the Wikipedia article on Jeremiah Ingalls.


List of choral works


1. Psalm-Tunes
2. Anthems
3. Set pieces
3. Arrangements by Ingalls of works of others
4. Arrangements by others of Ingalls' works


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  • Ingalls, Jeremiah. 1805. The Christian Harmony; or, Songster's Companion, Exeter, New Hampshire: Henry Ranlet. 200 pp.
  • "Connexion" and Jeremiah Ingalls Society Bicentennial Edition, 1805-2005 of The Christian Harmony or Songster's Companion, Thomas B. Malone ed. (This work is described as containing all the songs of the 1805 edition, reset in 4-shape notes, and an Appendix of new and historic tunes)


  • Anonymous. 1803. Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Use of Christians, Including a Number Never Before Published. Philadelphia: John W. Scott. 252 pp. (This book has the words chosen for over twenty songs in Christian Harmony)
  • Klocko, D. G. 1978. Jeremiah Ingalls' The Christian Harmony, or Songster's Companion. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.
  • Smith, Joshua, and Samuel Sleeper. 1794. Divine Hymns, or Spiritual Songs, for the Use of Religious Assemblies and Private Christians. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: John Melcher. 140 pp. (Another major source for lyrics)
  • Steel, David Warren, and Richard H. Hulan. 2010. The Makers of the Sacred Harp. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. 322 pp.
  • Wells, Frederic P. 1902. History of Newbury, Vermont, From the Discovery of the Coös Country to Present Time. St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Caledonian. 779 pp.

External links