Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dedication of Precinct Chapel, 1885

Increasingly following the Civil War, the Precinct Church building at Lakeville was a problem.  Built in 1835, the church was considered drafty, difficult to heat, acoustically poor and generally outmoded.  In response to these concerns, the Lakeville & Taunton Precinct constructed a small chapel building onto the northwest corner of the church in 1885.  The following poem which recounts the difficulties of the 1835 church building, was read at the chapel's dedication on Tuesday evening, November 17, 1885.  (The Precinct Chapel remained in use until the early 1970s at which time the church building was relocated to its present location.  On May 11, 1972, the Lakeville United Church of Christ, the successor to the Lakeville & Taunton Precinct Society, sold the chapel which was converted to residential use).

Read at dedication of Precinct Chapel
Nov. 17, 1885

Change is the order of the day.
Inclined to leave the good old way,
We seek a smoother, better road
Than that rough path our fathers trod.
As we this chapel dedicate,
It seems a fitting time to state
Some changes that have taken place,
Though lapse of time may not efface,
From the retentive memory,
Old Precinct's early history.
Changes so gradually wrought
Are scarcely noticed 'till we'er brought
By some unusual event,
To realize how different
The customs of the people now,
From what they were not long ago.
'Tis not long since our people thought
That stoves in church they needed not,
Except the foot stoves some of you
Perhaps have used and have them now.
When we consider that they went
To church and sat all day content,
When all the heat was what they brought,
Except that in-the doctrine taught,
No wonder that we sometimes sigh,
And dash a tear drop from the eye,
To cast a look so far behind,
And think of all it brings to mind.
After awhile they thought it best
To have two stoves, and these were placed
Not on the steps, but just inside
To heat the entry and provide
A place to warm themselves at noon.
No Sunday School in winter then.
Two lines of pipe ran through the church
From these two stoves within the porch,
These were expected to supply
Sufficient heat to modify
The temperature which otherwise
Might at their worship paralyze.
The joints or pipe would often leak,
Then some another seat would seek,
Not regarding as salutary
These droppings of the sanctuary,
We look again still later on
And find the stove and pipes are gone,
Two large holes now our vision meet
Through which comes subterranean heat,
For all that they can see or know,
Who never have been down below,
Change in the pulpit has been made,
Resulting in a lower grade.
The Shepherd now is not so high
Above his flock as formerly.
The preacher may be just as good,
Although his standing has been lowered.
A new projection you'll observe,
Back of the pulpit. This may serve
To throw more light on hidden truth
Within the bible, but forsooth
The people cannot hear so well,
In consequence of this new L,
They used to have a sounding board
To help the pastor to be heard;
Upon this board some here can say
They’ve often seen the squirrels play.
Acoustics are of no avail,
‘Tis fashion now that must prevail.
The gallery has had to go,
Tile singers, too, have been brought low.
Nothing but fashion has the power
To disenthrone an old church choir,
The pews remain much as of yore,
Except that each one lost a door,
When, after many years, 'twas found
They served no purpose but to sound
A new arrival, and to keep
The tired ones from too much sleep.
These little changes paved the way
For this departure which to-day
We'er called upon to celebrate,
In manner most appropriate,
This chapel happily designed
For needs of body and of mind,
Illustrates that it will not do,
To try to separate the two.
‘Tis well we realized this fact
Sufficiently at last to act
Upon this principle, and build
A house that surely will be filled.
For men will come from far and near,
When it is known that we have here
Not only spiritual food,
But that which does the body good.
Time was when people would not think,
Of having things to eat and drink,
As means by which to gather in
The wayward from the paths of sin,
While in their worship most devout,
The loaves and fishes they left out,
But now the culinary art
Forms a very important part.
A church that now would-members gain
Must have a kitchen, and maintain
A table which will well compare
With sister churches’ bills of fare;
In closing, I will only add,
The ladies will be very glad,
If you will all attend their sale
Next Friday evening. Do not fail
To be present at that meeting.
Prove the pudding in the eating.

Precinct Chapel, Lakeville, MA, photograph, Vision Appraisal.
The Precinct Chapel today is a well-maintained home at 199
Rhode Island Road in Lakeville.
To view historic photographs of the Precinct Chapel taken in 1916, click here and here.

"Lines Read at Dedication of Precinct Chapel, Nov. 17, 1885", leaflet.


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