Early History of Concord, MA in “Toward the Source”

The rude bridge where the colonists and British clashed on April 19, 1775. Concord, Massachusetts.

When writing Toward the Source, Joyce Mekeel wanted to incorporate as much of the early history of Concord, MA as possible. Her materials include the Bible, Psalm books, gravestone inscriptions, town records, names of places, and names of participants in the battle of April 19, 1775.

For more details, download this PDF. It has the lyrics for the piece, along with the research by orchestra member Sue Stone on the sources of these texts:

Texts and sources for Joyce Mekeel’s Toward the Source

To quote the document:

“The words listed here are in the general order they appear in the music. Mekeel’s sources contain much of Concord’s early history. The words are sung and spoken by the chorus and even by members of the orchestra. In addition to singing in various styles, including hymns, Mekeel uses the words to create murmuring spoken textures. You won’t necessarily be able to follow along as you listen since the texts are interwoven and overlapping and sometimes barely audible.

In the beginning…
“MUSKETAQUID”, the native name for the river and for the town starts the recitation of names of wet, marshy places

And next….
Watch ye for ye know not when the master of the house cometh,
at even or at midnight or at the cocks crowing.                        Mark 13:35 – KJV

To describe the people who lived beside the rivers in the 17th century, Mekeel first takes material
from genealogist George Tolman’s 1873 The Inscriptions from Old Burying Grounds in Concord, Mass. Some of these lines are spoken aloud; some are whispered.

The men of the Chorus introduce the third section of Toward the Source –that where the relationship of the English colonists to the native population is interpreted.

I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
(Exodus 20:2 – King James Version (KJV)

Part of the effort was to teach the Indians and bring them to Christianity. Nine of the orders (laws) agreed to at Concord in 1646 by Simon Willard, Peter Bulkeley, Tahattawan, Squaw Sachem and other leaders.

  • They desire that they may understand the wiles of Satan and grow out  of love with his temptations.
  • They do all resolve to set up prayer in their wigwams.
  • Willful murder shall be punished by death.
  • No Indian shall have more than one wife.

The full document paints a vivid picture of the austere, religious outlook of our ancestors, the residents of Concord before the American Revolution.


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