Category Archives: George William Warren

George William Warren at St. Paul’s — Part 2, 1852-1856

By the fall of 1852, George William Warren had been at St. Paul’s Church, Albany for four years. We have been able to follow his work with the choir, particularly Mrs. Eastcott and Mr. Squires, and the works, both sacred and secular, that he composed in those years.

George William Warren

George William Warren

In October of 1852, Warren seems to have decided upon a career change. This was hardly a mid-life crisis; Warren was only twenty-four years old. Warren entered into a partnership with Richard H. Pease, a lithographer who also operated the successful Temple of Fancy, a variety store. In the notice published in the October 2, 1852 edition of the Albany Evening Journal by Pease, he explained that “Mr. Warren will have the general superintendence of the Variety Store, whereas the undersigned will attend to the Lithographing, Engraving, &c., as heretofore.” George Wm. Warren published his own advertisement, inviting “his old friends and other to call upon Pease & Warren and examine the new and elegant Fancy Goods, Toys, Games, Gloves, Worsteds, etc.”

For the next ten months, Albany newspapers regularly contain Pease & Warren advertisements for goods such as games, valentines, cards, cutlery, fans and perfume. During this period, Warren must have reduced his musical schedule: newspaper between October 1852 and July 1853 contain no references to him performing or conducting.

Pease & Warren advertisement, 1853-54 Albany Directory

Pease & Warren advertisement, 1853-54 Albany Directory

It is only in August 1853, that we find the next notice, with Warren advertising for a soprano soloist for St. Paul’s choir. The next month, September 1853, is the last advertisement for Pease & Warren. While the partnership seems to have been ended, the dissolution must have been amicable. Warren used the Temple of Fancy as his business address for three more years, but always as “Professor of Music,” no longer a partner in the business. Richard H. and Mary Pease named their son born in September 1853 George William Pease. Warren stood godfather at St. Paul’s for both his namesake in 1856 and his older brother Charles Elliott Pease in 1858. Most tellingly of all for continued warm relations, Warren married the Peases’ daughter Mary Eliza at St. Paul’s on September 16, 1858.

In December 1853, with Warren once again devoting full-time to music, we find the first contemporary description of the choir and of his compositions. A review in New York City’s The Musical World and Times describes St. Paul’s choir as consisting of G.W. Warren organist/choirmaster and tenor (he must have been unable to find a suitable replacement for Henry Squires), Mrs. Henry soprano (probably hired in August, since she received payment for one quarter due in November of that year ), Miss Scovil alto, Stephen W. Whitney bass.

The description of his compositions is not laudatory:

I cannot concede that the style of music usually performed in this church [sc. St Paul’s, Albany] is that of legitimate church music. A great portion of it is of Mr. Warren’s own composition, and is, in most instances, very nicely wedded to the words: yet I am more reminded of the concert room by it than of the church. I believe this state of things is owing to the fact the congregation require it. Mr. W. knows their taste and composes and adapts his music to their wants, like a good, obedient child.

Later that same month, St. Paul’s vestry minutes mention George Warren for the first time. A vestry resolution, dated December 13, 1853, reads “Resolved that Mr. Warren be requested and directed not to allow the organ to be used without the consent of the Vestry.”

Wm. Ingraham Kip at St. Paul's altar (from an 1847 portrait by William Tolman Carlton)

Wm. Ingraham Kip at St. Paul’s altar (from an 1847 portrait by William Tolman Carlton)

We do not know what prompted this directive. Had he used the organ for a non-church function? Had he permitted someone else to use the organ? Whichever it may be, this was a turbulent time in the church’s life: our long-time rector, William Ingraham Kip, had just resigned to become the first missionary bishop of California. Kip appears to have left Albany with warm feelings for Warren. Thirty-three years later, he inscribed a carte de visite “To Mr. George Wm. Warren in remembrance of old times. Wm. Ingraham Kip Bishop of California 1886” A new rector, Thomas A. Starkey, was called at the end of December 1853.

Kip carte de visite reverse with inscription to Geo. W. Warren

Kip carte de visite reverse with inscription to Geo. W. Warren

In May 1854, Warren became a communicant of St. Paul’s Church. During the years 1854 and 1855 we find three newspaper notices of his performing at the inauguration of new organs, with two of these describing his extemporizing on themes. Each identifies him as organist of St. Paul’s church. The 1854 notice says that he “extemporised in his usual fanciful and somewhat comic style.”

Warren had been teaching organ, piano and singing since 1849, but in the fall of 1854, he organized larger singing classes for girls, on both Rudimental and Advanced levels. At this time, he did not offer a boys’ class, but recommended singing the classes for boys taught by Mrs. Margaret Gourlay, his former soprano soloist.

In October 1855, Warren was offered the post of organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Church, in Troy, New York. He chose to remain at St. Paul’s, Albany, with his salary doubled, and announced big plans for the future: “I am forming a choir of boys, in addition to a quintette choir and hope to have very delightful music this winter.”

This was to be the first boychoir in the city of Albany. It was composed of twelve boys, not vested, who supported plainchant and hymns. A quartet choir provided all remaining service music. One of the choirboys reported that he never learned to read music, and so the level of performance was probably not high. The most talented of these boys was William James Gourlay, the son of the Warren’s soprano soloist in 1850, Mrs. Margaret Gourlay. “Willie” was not only a soloist at St. Paul’s, but also appeared in Warren’s 1856 Concert for the Poor, where he was billed as “Master Gourlay, the little vocalist of St. Paul’s Choir”.

Albany Evening Journal 18 Jan 1856

Albany Evening Journal 18 Jan 1856

Another highlight of the “delightful music” that Warren promised for the winter of 1855 – 1856 was his recently-discovered soprano soloist. Isabella Hinckley was only fifteen years old, but she had studied piano with St. Paul’s former organist, Oliver J. Shaw, studied voice with St. Paul’s former soprano soloist, Electa Cone, and had proved herself as choir director at the Church of the Holy Innocents. She was featured in Warren’s Concert for the Poor in 1856 (“her first appearance”) and again in 1857.

Starkey Portrait St PaulsIn 1856, Warren published another piece of music with a St. Paul’s connection,  “A Christmas Carol, Written for the Children of St Paul’s Church, Albany with Words by their Rector Rev. T.A. Starkey,” published by J.H. Hidley of Albany.

Geo. Wm. Warren's A Christmas Carol

Geo. Wm. Warren’s A Christmas Carol

In April of 1856, shortly after finishing the busy schedule for the Concert for the Poor (featuring Miss Hinckley, Master Gourlay and fifty members of his singing class) in February, Warren for the first time advertised singing classes for boys. A reminiscence by one of St. Paul’s choir boys suggests that Warren used these classes to attract and train candidates for the St.Paul’s boy choir. In this classified advertisement, he identified himself  as “Organist and Musical Director at St. Paul’s Church (eight years)” implying that he had worked at St. Paul’s continuously since 1848.

But a break was about to occur. According to vestry minutes for 6 September 1856, “George W. Warren account for services as Organist & amounting to $698.77 was present and referred to Messrs. Kendrick Tweddle & Raymond with power & authority to adjust the same.” The size of the demand suggests that it covers salary for multiple months, and that Warren was settling his accounts with the church.

This supposition is confirmed by a November 1856 article in Dwight’s Journal of Music, which first describes the music program at St. Paul’s as consisting of

an excellent quartet at one side of the organist, and a choir of twelve boys at the other. Quite a number of singers, of a great deal more than ordinary ability, have been engaged at St Paul’s. Mrs. Lucy Eastcott (who is now an acknowledged European prima donna) was their soprano for two years [1850-1852] and Mr. Henry Squires, now a leading tenore in London, was in the same choir at the same time. Their soprano of last season [1855-1856], Miss Isabella Hinkley, has a voice of remarkable beauty, and her talent is to he further cultivated and perfected by a thorough musical education in Italy, for she goes to Florence next May.

But then the article announces Warren’s resignation, which prompted a round of musical chairs among Albany’s organists and choir members:

But choir matters have been through a constant series of changes this season; George William Warren, for eight years director at St Paul’s resigned, and accepted at Dr Sprague’s [Second Presbyterian]. Albert Wood resigned at St Peter’s and accepted at St. Paul’s. The choirs of these and some other also changed and exchanged and it would hardly fair to report the degree of excellence in either present, but be assured a deep interest is felt have good church music and excellent salaries paid to our host organists and singers and it not be the fault of our people if the good is attained.

St. Paul’s vestry minutes do not note Warren’s resignation, and we may never know his reasons for leaving. Nor do we know why Albert Wood chose to leave St. Peter’s after a tenure of at least four years; the earliest St. Peter’s salary receipt (housed at the New York State Archives) for Wood is from August 1852 and the latest from August 1856 (shortly before his resignation), with several from every year between those dates.

George Wm. Warren must not have stayed long at Second Presbyterian church, because he offered his services to St. Paul’s in May, 1857. In a future post, we will conclude our story of Warren’s time at St. Paul’s Church with an account of his final period here, from August 1, 1857 through August 1, 1860.







George William Warren at St. Paul’s — Part 1, 1848-1851

As we have seen, George William Warren resigned as organist and choirmaster of St. Peter’s Church in October 1848. We know that he was to spend most of the period until August 1860 at St. Paul’s Church, Albany. But when did Warren first come to St. Paul’s Church?

George William Warren

George William Warren

Warren’s obituary in the New York Times (17 Mar 1902) specifically says that he came to St. Paul’s in 1848. And Warren himself implies that year as well in an 1856 classified advertisement (Albany Evening Journal 7 Apr 1856); in which he identifies himself as “Organist and Musical Director at St. Paul’s Church (for eight years).” Articles in Dwight’s Journal (15 Nov 1856) and Albany Morning Express (30 May 1857) confirm that as of October 1856 Warren had been at St. Paul’s for eight years.

Additionally, Warren twice wrote that when he left Albany in 1860 he had been at St. Paul’s since 1848: “nearly thirteen years” according to his letter of resignation to the St. Paul’s vestry (“nearly” because of his ten months at Second Presbyterian), and precisely “thirteen years”  (writing as “Jem Bags” in Dwight’s Journal 1 Dec 1860).

St. Paul’s vestry minutes are silent on musical activities in this period, and we may never know the precise date or month in which he started. The first evidence comes almost a year later, when we read that “George W. Warren Organist of St. Paul’s Church” is offering piano and organ lessons (Albany Evening Journal, four insertions in mid-August 1849). Warren also advertised his music lessons the next year, describing himself as “Organist and Director of Music of St. Paul’s Church.” (Albany Evening Journal, 2 Sep 1850)

George William Warren must have begun composing early in the period. We have two compositions specifically mentioning performance at St. Paul’s. The first is “Rock of Ages,” which Warren (in his Hymns and Tunes as Sung at St. Thomas’s Church, New York (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889) dates to 1849. It was first published in 1851, dedicated to St. Paul’s rector, William Ingraham Kip, and with the notation “as sung in St. Paul’s Church Albany by Mrs. Eastcott, Mrs. Gourley, Mr. Squires and Mr. Whitney in 1850.”

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

We also have Warren’s composition “Come Holy Spirit,” first published in 1850 with the notation “as sung by the choir of St. Paul’s Church (Albany)”.

Come Holy Spirit, by George William Warren

Come Holy Spirit, by George William Warren

And finally, we have Warren’s “Love’s Twilight Star,” published in 1849. While this is a secular work, it is dedicated to the popular Albany soprano Miss Electa Cone, who received payment (probably as soprano soloist) from St. Paul’s in 1850.

Love's Twilight Star, by George William Warren

Love’s Twilight Star, by George William Warren

In addition to proving that Warren was at St. Paul’s in 1849, “Rock of Ages” is important for giving us the first list of the St. Paul’s choir. At this time, and into the early twentieth century, St. Paul’s had a quartet choir, composed of four paid soloists. Most of Warren’s early compositions were written for such a group. The names of the choir members are also of interest. Mrs. Gourlay and Mr. Whitney were local talent. Margaret Campbell Gourlay was an Albany voice teacher, a member of St. Peter’s Church and a member of St. Peter’s choir with Warren in 1847. We will meet her talented son Willie as member of the boy choir that Warren formed in 1855. Stephen W. Whitney was a local businessman with a long  career as a church and concert soloist. The stars were Lucy Grant Eastcott and Henry Squires. Both were recent arrivals in Albany (in 1850, the Albany Evening Journal  praised St. Paul’s hiring of Lucy as a sign of “stirring up of the dry bones” ), and both were to leave the city within two years. They went on to distinguished opera careers in the United States, Europe and Australia, about which we will have much to say in a future post.

In April and May 1852, George William Warren advertised in the Albany Evening Journal for “a soprano and tenor, to fill vacancies in the choir of St. Paul’s Church.” Lucy Eastcott (who would soon begin styling herself Madame Escott) had already left the city; Henry Squires would leave by that October, bringing this first chapter of Warren’s years at St. Paul’s Church to a close. We will pick up the story in a later post, beginning with the events of autumn 1852 and continuing through 1856.

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