Oliver, Henry Kemble



American amateur composer of church-music; born at Beverly, Mass. His father was a minister and he inherited his musical ability from his mother, who was the great-aunt of Oliver Wendell Holmes and related to the family of Wendell Phillips. He graduated from both Harvard and Dartmouth Colleges in 1818. Until 1844 he taught school in Salem, where he married Sarah Cook in 1825. He became superintendent of the Atlantic Cotton Mills in Lawrence in 1848, and during the four years intervening he served as colonel and later adjutant-general of the militia, serving at the head of a regiment in the Mexican War. After establishing a library and making many other improvements at Lawrence he gave up his position in the mills in 1858 and entered politics. In 1859 he was mayor of Lawrence; during the Civil War he was treasurer of Massachusetts; and after investigating child labor was ap pointed head of the Massachusetts Bureau of the Statistics of Labor in 1869, and a judge at the Centennial Exposition in 1876. He was mayor of Salem from 1877 to 1880, and  then removed to Boston, where he died five years later. Was made Doctor of Music by Dartmouth in 1883, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts of Harvard. His career as a musician began when he was but a boy of ten, in the choir of the Park Street Church, Boston, and from 1819 he was a professional organist, playing and directing music in a number of churches in Salem and Lawrence. His first attempt at composition was in 1832, when he wrote a hymn, Federal Street. In 1872, at the Peace Jubilee, this hymn was sung to his own words by twenty thousand singers, with Oliver leading and an assembly of forty thousand joining in. In 1860 appeared Oliver's Collection of Church-Music, and in 1875 Oliver's Original Sacred Music. He also published the National Lyre, with the assistance of Dr. Tuckerman, in 1849. The familiar hymns, Beacon Street, Chestnut Street, Salisbury Plain, Vesper, Wendell, Walnut Grove, Elkton, Harmony Grove, Hudson, Merton, Morning, Oakland, and Walsingham, were written by him. He founded a glee club in 1832 at Salem, and in 1826 organized a Mozart Society there.