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  • 16 Sep 2021 3:08 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    About this time, Governor Bradford determined that an exploratory expedition should be sent north to the land of the Massachusetts.  Squanto had warned them that the Massachusetts, who lived in the vicinity of modern Boston, “had often threatened us.”  It was time to bring them into the fold, as well.  It is significant that in the modern maps of tribal lands in New England for the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower, the Massachusetts have been eliminated completely -- the ultimate in cancel culture -- and their land is currently identified as belonging to the Wampanoags, a name that is not found before King Philip’s War.  It appears that twenty-first century natives are not above continuing centuries old disputes (in this case, apparently, seizing another tribe’s land in order to build a casino).  The tiny, subordinate tribe is expanded to a “nation” in the 2020 banner of “Four Nations”; Massasoit’s people, known as the Pokanokets for the area they occupied at the head of Narragansett Bay, had been reduced to a few hundred warriors after the plague, and were considered the subjects of the Narragansetts, led by Canonicus. 

  • 15 Sep 2021 4:13 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The Pilgrims noted a significant increase in visitation by Indians, and particularly by their leaders, in the month after the attack on Nemasket.  Even though the foray did not capture Corbitant, the purpose of the expedition, and descended into comedy or farce at times, the local tribes began to recognise how the Pilgrims could be useful in their own plans to work together.  This resulted not only in a treaty (to be discussed next week) but also in various tribes working together, which had not really been the case previously, and certainly not since the plague decimated the coastal tribes several years earlier.

  • 14 Sep 2021 3:11 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Paul Jehle, in a blog post for the Plymouth Rock Foundation, identified three characteristics of the Ainsworth Psalter:

    • ·         First, its translation (and notes of interpretation) of the Scriptures kept the lyrics as close to the original text as possible.  Henry Ainsworth’s challenge was to take the Old Testament Psalms and turn the words into prose that could be set to an easy melody. 
    • ·         Second, the prose of Scripture was inseparably connected to the melodies employed by Ainsworth.  These were taken from a blend of English, Dutch and French tunes used in the Reformed Churches in Amsterdam.  Only the melodies are given in Ainsworth’s Psalm Book, and the C-clef alone is used.  There are forty-eight tunes and where there is no tune given, the book refers to a tune already used in another Psalm.  Nine are duplicates so that only 39 are needed to be memorized.
    • ·        Third, its rhythm was iambic (first beat on the second syllable).  Trochaic (first beat on the first syllable) measures were not common until early in the 18th century.  The tunes were often taken from folk songs and thus they were lively.
  • 13 Sep 2021 2:36 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The principal texts used in Pilgrim worship were from the Book of Psalms.  In their strictly literal reading of Scripture, it was noted that the only time that Jesus sang was on the night before he died, when he and the disciples sang psalms on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane: this was in contrast to the worship in the Temple, when only the priests and Levites sang.  Thus the Pilgrims encouraged all to sing, but only the Psalms: this was also a capella, as the use of the organ and other instruments was proscribed in worship services.  The Psalter used in the Church of England was Miles Coverdale’s 1535 translation, used in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer (and all subsequent versions in the Church of England).  Although the first complete metrical (or versified) Psalter in English, published in 1562, was known as “Sternhold and Hopkins,” Henry Ainsworth published his Psalter specifically for the Separatist Congregation in Holland.  It remained as the main song book of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, although “The Bay Psalm-Book,” published at Cambridge [Massachusetts] in 1640 and revised later, is better known.  Ainsworth provided both a prose and a verse version of the psalms, and kept the two as close to each other as possible: the versified version is thus frequently garbled and unintelligible.  More about the Ainsworth Psalter and Pilgrim worship and music can be found in the most recent issues of the Mayflower Quarterly, and I will add some more comments in the next few days.

  • 12 Sep 2021 3:49 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Kept the Sabbath.  Note that church attendance was not mandated by law until 1650 in the colony of New Plymouth, but keeping the Sabbath by refraining from work and attendance at the two worship services was probably almost universal in this early period.  The group had, after all, left England and undergone hardship for this very purpose, so it is likely that attendance did not need to be “enforced.”  The scriptures were the basis for worship, as for much else, and in the absence of any other written laws or regulations, the sacred writings also served as a legal code.  The Pilgrims not only rejected the celebration of Easter, Christmas, and Saints’ Days, but also hymns, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and creeds. Psalms were the only music allowed in service.  Sabbath services were held twice on Sunday, from 9am to noon and from 2pm to 5pm, and sermons were often given on Thursdays and when Days of Thanksgiving or Days of Fasting and Humiliation were proclaimed.

  • 11 Sep 2021 3:28 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    We have spent plenty of time on what vegetables the Pilgrims ate, but what about meat?  In New England, supplies of fish and shellfish were plentiful. Without hunting restrictions, deer, wild fowl, rabbits and other small animals were available to anyone who wanted to hunt them. We know that the Pilgrims brought with them farm animals -- unknown to the natives -- including pigs, chickens, and goats; sheep and cows came a couple of years later. These animals provided meat, eggs and dairy products for the colonists.

  • 10 Sep 2021 2:53 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The combination of available meat and shellfish, Indian corn and other field crops and garden plants made the Pilgrims’ diet a rich and varied one through most seasons of the year. Like the natives, however, the colonists experienced seasonal variations. Not all foods were available at every season of the year. The Pilgrims tried to extend the life of their foods through preservation. Salting, the most common method of preservation, worked well for pork (meat from pigs) and fish. This method was sometimes combined with smoking for meats. Drying was also common. Vinegar pickles and sugar were also occasionally used to preserve foods.

  • 9 Sep 2021 3:35 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Along with Indian corn, the Pilgrims also grew some beans, pumpkins, wheat, barley, oats and peas in their fields. In the gardens near their houses, they grew many different kinds of herbs and vegetables, like parsley, lettuce, spinach, carrots and turnips. Salt, sugar, oil, and vinegar had to be imported from England.

  • 8 Sep 2021 2:38 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Families in Plymouth planted enough in their fields to feed themselves: their main crop was a kind of corn they had never seen before. Because it was native to North America and grew better in America than English grains, the Pilgrims called it “Indian corn.” All of this work had to be done with hand tools – tractors and automatic machines hadn’t been invented yet.  Indian corn was different from the sweet yellow corn that we eat today. It had various colours – reds, blacks, yellows and whites – on the same ear, and was not eaten fresh from the cob. Instead, Indian corn was dried and then pounded into flour and cornmeal for cooking and baking. Indian corn was part of almost every meal.

  • 8 Sep 2021 2:37 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Planting and construction continue.  By the middle of November, there were seven homes arranged along the central street, and there had been a reasonably plentiful harvest, enough to get them through the winter (or so they thought).  While some crops prospered, many of the seeds that they had brought from England did not do as well: “our barley indifferent good, but our peas parched up with the sun.”  The unexpected arrival of 35 extra mouths to feed, also reduced their rations to almost starvation.

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