Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 31: RELIGION
Vespers Service by William Hayes
RELIGION Vespers Service William Hayes c. 1942
TAGS: religion, vespers services, meditation, William Hayes, World War II, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hendrik van Loon, Chapel, Evensong, church services, wars, peace, Dorothy Nace, hymns, prayers
Vespers at Pine Mountain Settlement School was not a denominational or a compulsory event at the School. In the era of the Boarding School, various staff workers were asked to offer the Sunday evening reflection gathering. It was largely a meditation on a subject brought to the gathering by the speaker. For example, the reflections at the vespers for William (“Bill”) Hayes, the farm manager at the School and a former student. They addressed a world remarkably familiar, capturing a world at war (WWII) , the anguish of having family members in distant battles, and the need for the strength of values. Such values were chiseled into the foundational stones of Burkham School House II: Humanity, Truth, Honesty, and, Self-Control.
Vespers Service: About William Hayes
Bill had three brothers, Silven, John, and Paul, who were fighting in the European and the Pacific Theaters. His brother, Silven would die in France at the end of the War in 1944, and the other brothers, Paul and John, on the other side of the world, would survive. Paul Hayes, many years later, would become a Director of Pine Mountain Settlement School. Bill’s brother-in-law, Enoch C. Hall, Jr., also a Pine Mountain Settlement School student, would, in 1942, survive the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This writer, Bill’s daughter and also a former Pine Mountain student, was born in the war-torn December of 1942, just a few days after Pearl Harbor and her Uncle John’s birthday. She would attend her Uncle Silven’s funeral nearly half a year after his death when his body was finally retrieved from Europe. Like so many of us from that era, the memories, even the earliest ones, would be shape-notes in the song of our lives.
Vespers Service: Pine Mountain
This vespers service presented by William Hayes in c. 1942 is an example of the services given by a variety of staff at Pine Mountain Settlement School during the Boarding School years. There were many, many more. The topics were chosen by the staff presenters and the programs then were arranged with musicians or other presenters. The service was generally Christ-centered, as was the School, but it was always non-denominational. It often included music, poetry, personal reflections, readings, and other offerings chosen by the presenter.
This particular offering of c. 1942 captures the mood of the School in a time of war and of political upheaval. In the many intervening years similar services in the Chapel at Pine Mountain have taken place. It is a chapel that prides itself in its ecumenical services like this vespers message. The Board of Trustees follow a brief and similar offering twice a year in the Chapel where the sentiments often echo the past. Hope still rings out in the quiet beauty of that Chapel and resonates with our current struggle to bring dignity to all people of all faiths and beliefs. The echoes of our pleas for a better self and a better world then and now continue. The need for places of inspiration where we can all come together in peace, respect, and quietude continues and is sorely needed whether in a chapel or in nature — at Pine Mountain both are offered. We all need a place where we can listen to our better selves and where that listening can be cultivated to never go away.
The “… good and true and lovely …” reminds one of the memorial plaque for Ethel de Long Zande a founder of the School.
Whatsoever things are true
Whatsoever things are honest
Whatsoever things are pure
Whatsoever things are lovely
Think on these things.
Vespers was a time for that thinking — that reflection.
Organ prelude – Dorothy [Nace]
The embers of the day are red
Beyond the murky hill.
The kitchen smokes; the bed
in the darkling house is spread:
The great sky darkens overhead,
And the great woods are shrill.
So far have I been led,
Lord, by Thy will:
So far I have followed, Lord, and wondered still.
Evensong – [Robert Louis] Stevenson
Our father in Heaven, we bless Thee for this thoughtful time in which the delicate and more subtle things of life become more real. Let our thoughts reach out and dwell on what is good and true and lovely. Unburden our thoughts [and] reach out and dwell on what is good and true and lovely. Unburden our hearts of worry or care so that we may receive abundantly of what is right. To all the things we have seen or heard this day we are glad to add this thoughtful hour, and through it feel more deeply and clearly what this day has brought. Be near us and bless us through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Quote – “Troubled World” – Hendrik Van Loon
Is it that civilization is moving so fast that we fail to see our neighbor’s good points? Some feel that people are moving about in such haste and confusion that we can’t accept the other person’s way of doing things. Maybe this is why we can’t settle our minds long enough to come to any conference agreement. We are continually calling for more round table discussion, but we get nowhere. At this point we should slow our pace long enough to glance back over our forefather’s times and tribulations.
In this great Country of ours men have always seen fit to fight wrong with truths. Great men have lost their lives for the things they held true to faith in their country’s building up. Always there has been some suitable man in our midst that has carried us through toil and terrorism. Usually, this man must have the full backing of the Nation at large. When we are working and praying for the same thing we are well regarded in the end.
So, I say here that like Mr. van Loon [Hendrik van Loon] we must look at ourselves: What are we living for? What we are trying to do from day to day? These and many other questions should be top most in our minds. Do we have the spiritual courage to say that we do want a civilization that is clean in mind and soul? Have we not in the past been able to express our thoughts through our daily work?
If we still believe this, then let us build and build but stop the tearing down of more permanent foundations. There is hardly a day goes by but what man’s labors bring forth new ideas for prolonged health and happiness. This goes to show that if just a small part of our aims to destroy man were put in proper channels what wonderful futures this age would bring. Even if there is enough grain, wool and raw materials for everybody, some misguided soul has to corrupt the whole plan in order to set himself up as an idol. We don’t want this kind of leadership. Our trends are toward a more free choice, loyalty to our fellow man.
In keeping with the demands and necessities of our new world, we must have new concepts of a good and desirable life. We must move slower with our fellowmen, be able to take and inject some of his ideas with ours. Be able to sit down and try some of these things before jumping the gun, and saying they are not in our keeping. Where there is a will there is way, so lets pray and hope some of us have that way.
A thought for peace —
Who knows but what this evening brings?
Thoughts of love and joys still ring,
Around us gather the world’s dark clouds,
But still there is freedom for speech out loud
Many are those who are sadly put out;
For peace talks lag and rumors are about.
What day goes by but what we don’t hear
Of conflicts between nations, so far away, but yet so near.
Still, we are looking for men who must bring
This country to its feet and make freedom ring.
Have we not already sacrificed enough time
To have corrected all errors and to draw a straight line?
For there are those among us who must at times face about
And bring his thoughts from the inside out.
When these thoughts are assembled in harmony over the world,
Can’t peace and love at last be unfurled?
— [source unknown]
Shall we close our Vespers by singing Hymn 56
O Lord our God, may the peace of this hour become a part of our lives to think on and recall in some moment when the strife and toil of life is hard and long. We have been with Thee, and in Thy keeping, we will rest this night. We pray for the time when all mankind shall know this peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN
Postlude – organ – Dorothy [Nace]
*Hendrik Willem van Loon (January 14, 1882 – March 11, 1944) was a Dutch-American historian, journalist, and children’s book author. Van Loon was a dedicated teacher and instructed some of the students who came to Pine Mountain to do their student teaching at Antioch College in Ohio, as he served as the Department Head of Social Sciences there. One of the favorite books of the students at Pine Mountain was van Loon’s The Story of Mankind. It was the first book to be awarded the Newbery Medal for its outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Van Loon, also a reporter, provided news coverage of the two World Wars.
RELIGION Chapel and Vespers Printed Programs at PMSS