"The Duties of Hard Times"

As a way of testing my PDF scanning workflow, I wanted to publish a document that was plainly in the public domain and potentially interesting to my readership.

I had on hand a sermon by the Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham, the minister of the (Unitarian) First Church of Boston, preached there April 23, 1837, entitled “The Duties of Hard Times”. The United States was in first spasms of a major financial crisis, so it seemed timely and appropriate.

On the whole, it is rather telling of its merchant-to-Brahmin readership — do read it aloud to yourself, as printed sermons ought to be read — in its praise of commercial forces and uncritical handling of the mysteries of economics. And classic Unitarianism in its appeals to the strength of character and the implicit priority given to moral over material joy.

A telling line:

In the instance now before us, the question is to how we shall make the times any better; — that were a hopeless undertaking; — but how we shall make ourselves better by the reasons of the times. (pp. 8-9)

In short: keep a cool head; our situation could be a lot worse (to which I tend to agree) and America is a prosperous and peaceful land. Of interest to my readers from Spain, Frothingham cites as recent example of how bad things could be in the siege of Bilbao, during the First Carlist War.

Colophon: I created this PDF in the same way as the Esperanto hymnal, except that I set format to line art and the threshold to 40. Tried to generated a text using OCR — and while the tesseract modules did a much better job than the GOCR ones — I didn’t find an easy way to automate distinguishing between the two pages per scan. I’ll try OCR again when I have modern typed pages to work on.

Download “The Duties of Hard Times” (2.1 Mb)

The scope of the lectionary review

As you may know, I write the day’s blog post the night before and I came home a bit tired on Monday, so the post I planned with have to be parsed out over a few days.

  1. I have been comparing the collects and “Mass readings” — appointed Epistles and Gospels — in several prayerbooks: American Episcopal prayerbooks from 1786 (proposed) to 1928, the Church of England 1662, the King’s Chapel 1918 and 1986 (latter collects only), the 1862 Christian Worship by Unitarians Charles Osgood and Frederick A. Farley, and the Evangelical and Reformed Church lectionary (lessons only) plus references to the medieval Salisbury use and Tridentine use.
  2. I’d like to find what James Martineau used, as he was an accomplished collect writer and liturgist in his own right.
  3. Of interest, the Unitarian propers (readings and prayers) were closer to all to all the other propers — even the medieval ones — than the Episcopalian propers of 1979 were to earlier Episcopalian sets!
  4. None were Universalist, though I suspect there were some borrowings in those liturgies where collects were appointed by month, rather than the traditional church year.
  5. But at 10:20 p.m., after looking for such a thing for years and years, I found a set of period Universalist propers — and it may disprove my point. Will keep you posted.