Cantata of the Hay Makers

Image from Hillsdale College 1881 Catalogue

Hillsdale, June 16, 1868.

H.B. ROWLSON ESQ: — The notice of the Beethoven Society of Hillsdale College of the Concerts to be given by that Society to-night and to-morrow night with the programme of the “Cantata of the Hay Makers,” suggested to me a beautiful piece of “word painting.”

It is redolent of the fragrance of flowers and of new mown hay, and musical with the cheery songs of the mowers, and with the ring and stroke of their scythes. Please publish it to-day as very appropriate to the occasion.          M.

Image from 19th Century American Women

We are up and away, ere the sunrise hath kist,
In the valley below us, that ocean of mist;
Ere the tops of the hills have grown bright in its ray,
With our scythes on our shoulders, we’re up and away!
The freshness and beauty of morning are ours,
The music of birds and the fragrance of flowers;
And our trail is the first that is seen in the dew,
As our pathway through orchards and lanes we pursue.

The helmeted clover, in serried array,
Like a host for the battle, awaits us to-day;
Like a host overthrown, rank by rank, shall it lie
Ere the heats of the noontide are poured from the sky.
Hurrah! — here we are! — now together, as one,
Give you scythes to the sward, and press steadily on;
All together, as one, o’er the stubble we pass,
With a swing and a ring of the steel through the grass.

Before us the clover stands thickly and tall,
At our left it is piled in a verdurous wall;
And never breathed monarch more fragrant perfumes
Than the sunshine distills from its leaves and its blooms.
Invisible censers around us are swung,
And anthems exultant from tree-tops are flung;
And mid fragrance and music and beauty we share
The jubilant life of the Earth and the Air.

Let the priest and the lawyer grow pale in their shades,
And the slender young clerk keep his skin like a maid’s;
We care not, though dear mother Nature may bronze
Gur cheeks with the kiss which she gives to her sons.
Then cheerly, boys, cheerly! — together, as one,
Give your scythes to the sward, and press steadily on;
All together, as one, o’er the stubble we pass,
With a swing and a ring of the steel through the grass.

The Hillsdale Standard (Hillsdale, Michigan) Jun 16, 1868

From the Atlantic Monthly, June 1862 article: The Health of Our Girls:

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