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Lowell Mason

1792-1872. American composer. Beginning as an amateur church musician, he became perhaps the greatest single influence in Protestant church music in the United States during the nineteenth century. He edited and published a great number of collections of hymntunes and simple anthems, and devoted much of his energy to music education and the betterment of church music. He wrote a great many hymntunes, of which “Missionary Hymn,” “Olivet,” “Boylston,” and “Bethany” are still among those widely used. He was active in the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, and he founded the Boston Academy of Music. Unhappily, he discouraged the early folklike and often modal tunes that were part of the distinctive American heritage of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, considering them inferior to those based on European and particularly German models.