Category Archives: George William Warren

How Long Was George Wm. Warren Organist at St. Peter’s, Albany?

As mentioned in a previous post, the often-cited chronology in which George William Warren was organist and choirmaster at St. Peter’s Church, Albany from 1846 – 1858 and at St. Paul’s Church, Albany from 1858 – 1860 cannot be correct. In Warren’s 1860 letter of resignation to St. Paul’s vestry he wrote:

It has been my privilege to be a Church Organist in this, the City of my birth, seventeen years; and the best part of that time (nearly thirteen years) has been devoted to the musical interests of St. Paul’s.

George William Warren

George William Warren

In this post, we will discuss the likely cause of this error, and determine the date he actually left St. Peter’s, supported by primary sources.

The first reference work to give specific dates for Warren’s employment at St. Peter’s is Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians (John Denison Champlin, Jr., ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890. Volume 3, page 566). Champlin gives the 1846 – 1858 period, and he may be the source of this information.

The first work to mention Warren being at St. Paul’s is Who’s Who in  America 1899-1900 (John W. Leonard , ed. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1899. page 768) which says Warren “became organist St Peter’s Ch., also St Paul’s Ch., Albany until 1860; organist Ch. of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, 1860-70.” As we will see, this is the correct sequence.

It is not until 1919 (seventeen years after Warren’s death) that we find the first reference to the mistaken chronology. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (Alfred Remy, ed. New York: G. Schirmer, 1919. page 1013) conflates  Champlin’s erroneous 1846-58 time period with Leonard’s correct sequence and says that Warren held “positions at St. Peters (1846-58) and St. Paul’s (1858-60), Albany; 1860-70, at Holy Trinity, Brooklyn.”

What, then, is the cause of Champlin’s error in Warren’s term at St. Peter’s? While 1846 is the correct beginning date, 1858  is a typographical error (whether his own, or copied from another source) for 1848, as can be determined from St. Peter’s vestry minutes (New York State Library Manuscripts SC19680, Box 4, Volume 2) and St. Peter’s choir vouchers (New York State Library Manuscripts SC19680, Box 13, Folder 9).

Without question, George Warren became St. Peter’s organist in 1846. His letter offering his services without pay (dated 20 June 1846) is transcribed in the vestry minutes for 6 July 1846; on the same date, the vestry accepted his offer for a period of six months [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 8 July 1846].

Geo. W. Warren's offer to serve as St. Peter's organist without pay (Vestry Minutes 20 Jun 1846)

Geo. W. Warren’s offer to serve as St. Peter’s organist without pay (Vestry Minutes 20 Jun 1846)

The position is confirmed by an 1847 St. Peter’s choir list  which includes G.W. Warren as “Organist and Conductor” [St. Peter’s choir vouchers, sheet reverse dated 1847 without month or day].

St. Peter's 1847 Choir List

St. Peter’s 1847 Choir List

Then on 26 April 1848, St. Peter’s vestry authorized its Music Committee to negotiate a salary no greater than $200 with Mr. George Warren to serve as organist “for the year ending in May next,” implying May 1849. [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 26 Apr 1848 ]

Approval for extension of Warren's service as St. Peter's organist until May 1849

Approval for extension of Warren’s service as St. Peter’s organist until May 1849



If Warren accepted this offer, he changed his mind within six months. On 17 October 1848, his resignation was presented to St. Peter’s vestry, and accepted. [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 17 Oct 1848] The last reference to Warren in St. Peter’s records is the listing of a payment due to him in January 1849 as “late organist.” [Joseph Hooper. A History of St. Peter’s Church in the City of Albany. Albany: Fort Orange Press, 1900. page 294]

As confirmation that George William Warren could not have remained as St. Peter’s organist for much of the 1850’s, an apparently complete set of choir vouchers in that period contains no reference to him after 1847. Between 1852 and 1856, all payments to an organist are made to Albert H. Wood. [St. Peter’s choir vouchers]

By the third quarter of 1849, Warren was organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Church. In our next post, we will follow the course of his first term as our organist.



April 1860 — George William Warren Resigns as Organist and Choirmaster

Last month marked the 165th anniversary of George William Warren’s resignation as St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster. Well-known as an organist and composer in the nineteenth century and still remembered today as the composer of “National Hymn” (the tune to which “God of Our Father’s is usually sung), Warren was certainly the most illustrious of St. Paul’s organists and choirmasters until the arrival of T. Frederick H. Candlyn in 1915.

George William Warren

George William Warren

As you can see from his letter of resignation below, Warren served at St. Paul’s for a little less than thirteen years in the period between 1843 (when he was only fifteen years old) and 1860, with his final engagement at St. Paul’s lasting from August 1857 until August 1, 1860. Warren does not mention the dates of his earlier engagements, but the general picture is very clear from his own words: three-quarters of his professional life in Albany were spent at St. Paul’s.

Why, then, does The Hymnal Companion: Service Music and Biographies (Raymond F. Glover, ed.  Church Hymnal Corporation, 1994, page 651)  say that “at the age of eighteen Warren became organist of St. Peter’s, Albany, where he served from 1846 to 1858, then for two years at St. Paul’s, Albany.”? In future posts, I will explain the likely origin of this error, and show the correct chronology from contemporary records.

George William Warren’s letter of resignation as organist and musical director of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, is transcribed in St. Paul’s Vestry minutes, volume 3, dated 4 May 1860:

To the Rector, Warden and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church

About two weeks since, I was waited upon by a Committee from the Vestry of the Church of the Holy Trinity Brooklyn, N.Y. asking upon what terms I would remove my residence to that City, and take charge of the Music of their Church.  I was invited to visit them, inspect the Organ, and present my contract to the Vestry at their meeting of last Thursday. All this I did, and as my terms in every particular were instantly and unanimously accepted, I must necessarily beg leave to submit my resignation as Organist & Musical Director of St. Paul’s Church, to take effect the first of August ensuing, which time terminates the third year of my present engagement with you.

It has been my privilege to be a Church Organist in this, the City of my birth, seventeen years; and the best part of that time (nearly thirteen years) has been devoted to the musical interests of St. Paul’s. It has always been my willing duty to try to please you; if I have not always succeeded, the cause has been something else than lack of desire on my part.

From my heart I thank you, for the confidence and kindness I have always received from you, and now that I am soon to remove to another City to leave old and tried friends, and make every honest effort to win new ones, I am most anxious to carry with me the esteem of all those with whom I have been connected. May I not hope for a continuance of your friendship, and good wishes?

I am most respectfully
Your friend

George William Warren
Albany, April 24, 1860


The Font and Caroline Gallup Reed

St. Paul's Font

St. Paul’s Font

Of all the articles regularly used in our services, very few are more than a century old.  Two silver chalices and a paten dated 1839 are brought out for special occasions. But every time we gather, we see the font, reminding us of the long history of this congregation.

We do not know when we acquired this font, although already in the 1920’s we had had it “for many years.” Here is a snapshot from 1958, showing the font in the Lancaster Street church, in a baptistry of marble and mosaic, below a mural of “Christ Blessing a Child” and next to the marble  and mosaic lectern, now placed in the narthex of the Hackett Boulevard building.

Baptistry of St. Paul's Church, Lancaster Street

Baptistry of St. Paul’s Church, Lancaster Street

We do not know who made it. But we do know who arranged for its purchase, and therein lies a story.

In the Lancaster Street church, St. Paul’s kept a gallery of photographs of important persons: warden and vestry, rectors,  curates and major donors. Among these latter, is a portrait of “Mrs. Sylvanus Reed, through whose efforts the font now in use was presented to the Parish.”

Caroline Gallup Reed

Caroline Gallup Reed

Caroline Gallup was born in Berne, Albany County, August 5, 1821. She moved to Albany with her family in 1832, when her father,

Albert Gallup

Albert Gallup

Albert Gallup, became Albany County sheriff, a position he held until 1835. In 1837, Albert Gallup was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The family’s association with St. Paul’s seems to have begun just after Albert Gallup’s single term ended in 1839. Caroline’s mother, Eunice Smith Gallup, became a communicant of St. Paul’s in 1840, and Albert Gallup began a three-year term as vestryman the same year.

Caroline’s early education was in St. Peter’s school, and the school run by the estimable Misses Carter, four “Irish ladies of culture and refinement” who were also St. Paul’s communicants. She then attended the Albany Female Academy, graduating in 1839.  Caroline became a communicant of St. Paul’s in 1841.

In 1851, Caroline was married at St. Paul’s to Sylvanus Reed in a service conducted by our rector, William Ingraham Kip. Sylvanus had also grown up in this parish. His father was Sylvester Reed, a St. Paul’s vestryman from 1839 until 1839.

Sylvester Reed

Sylvester Reed

Sylvanus had the distinction of being the first person from St. Paul’s to enter the ministry.

The Rev. Sylvanus Reed

The Rev. Sylvanus Reed

By the time of their marriage, he was rector of the newest Episcopal congregation in Albany, the Church of the Holy Innocents on North Pearl Street.

After their marriage, Sylvanus and Caroline lived in Albany for eleven years and all four of their children were born here. Two of these children may be of interest to you. Caroline’s son Sylvanus Albert Reed became an engineer, and designed the first modern metal airplane propeller. Caroline’s daughter Mary Geraldine was a well-known artist; she married Francois Millet, son of the painter Jean-François Millet. In 1862 Sylvanus accepted a position of minister at St. George’s Chapel, and the family moved to New York City.

Sylvanus’s health failed soon after the move, and in 1864 Caroline founded Mrs. Sylvanus Reed’s English, French and German Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies. Within a few years, it became on the of most prestigious schools for women in New York City, providing the daughters of the the city’s upper crust with a rigorous college-level education not then generally available to women in this country. The school attracted faculty of the highest caliber, and seems to have been particularly successful in providing employment to women, who found it difficult to find other academic appointments.

George William Warren

George William Warren

In another St. Paul’s connection, George William Warren, who had been our organist for twelve years between 1848 and 1860 (and likely the organist at Caroline and Sylvanus’s wedding),  taught choral singing and solfeggio, and gave private piano lessons at Mrs. Reed’s School.

Sylvanus died in 1870, but Carolyn continued as head of the school until 1890, and as a Visitor until 1894. when it became the School of the Sisters of the Church. Caroline Gallup Reed died in 1916.

Course of Study Collegiate Department 1883

Course of Study Collegiate Department 1883

We may never know  what efforts Caroline Gallup Reed exerted to bring this font, to St. Paul’s, but its presence in our nave serves as a reminder of our long history, and of our connection to an interesting family with an important role in women’s education.

Medal Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Mrs. Reed's School

Medal Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Mrs. Reed’s School