Monday, August 04, 2008

The Musical Side of Van Buren

In his book, God and the Oval Office, John C. McCollister provides an interesting quote attributed to President Martin Van Buren from his inaugural address. He said, “ I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solict and to whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all.”

Hmmmm…..from the quotation we can surmise that Van Buren prayed for himself and prayed for our nation. Another religious habit McCollister reveals is Van Buren loved to sing and sing loudly. Growing up in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren attended the Dutch Reformed Church weekly with his family and could always be heard above other congregants when the hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past was sung. The hymn was written by Isaac Watts and paraphrases Psalm 90. Today the hymn is still sung in England during times of celebration. You can see a video and hear the song here.

On July 24, 1862 the song was sung at Van Buren’s funeral.

While president, Martin Van Buren attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church. The church website advises from as far back as 1816 every person who has held the office of President of the United States has attended a regular or occasional service at St. Johns. In fact, pew 54 is designated the President’s Pew and is reserved for the president when he attends worship services.

Van Buren also attended services at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church as well.

1 comment:

schiller1979 said...

That brings a question to mind: who were the most musical presidents?

How about Harry Truman and Richard Nixon on piano, and Bill Clinton on sax. A most unusual trio!