Print Shortlink

Mason, Lowell (8th January 1792-11th August 1872)

He was a musician, arranger and composer born in Medfield. Massachusetts.  Having a passion for music from a young age he graduated and moved to Savannah where he would work in a store and then become a bank clerk.  He would also take private studies in music and would eventually begin to write his own religious compositions that were influenced by European classical composers.

Receiving many knock backs from publishers the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston took on his work and published it without it carrying his name.  This same publication would eventually sell 50,000 copies in 17 editions and become a standard for church choirs and singing schools in New England.

In 1826 he returned to Boston in his home state to continue his work as a bank teller and become Music Director for the Hanover, Green and Park Street churches before settling down in that position in the Bowdoin Street Church.  During this time he would also be the initiator of Sunday schools for black children in America.

In 1827 the Handel and Haydn Society made him their president and he would also become the first American teacher of music in a public school.  He was a co-founder of the Boston Academy of Music in 1833 and in 1838 took the post of Music Superintendent for Boston schools.

Earning himself the name “the father of American church music” he wrote over 1600 works that include Union Hymns, The American Book of Church Music and Carmina Sacra, a musical setting for “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “America: My Country Tis of Thee” and the popular Christmas carol “Joy To The World”.  He died when he was 80 years old on his estate in 1872 in Orange County, New Jersey.

His son William was also a composer and another son, Henry, was a founder of the piano manufacturers Mason and Hamelin.

His works can be heard in at least 34 feature films and 10 soundtracks.

Joy to the World recordings (Isaac Watts/Lowell Mason/George Frideric Handel)

Black Dyke Mills Band
Chandos 4541 (CD: A Christmas Fantasy)

Boston Pops
Philips 416 287 – 2 (CD:  We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
Conductor – John Williams

DG 419 414-2 (CD: White Christmas)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

RCA 09026-61685-2 (CD: Pops Christmas Party)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

Sony SK 48232 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams
Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Chicago Symphony Low Brass Ensemble
VOX 7501 (CD: Christmas with the Symphony Brass of Chicago)
Conductor – Barry Faldner

Placido Domingo
A Medley of Christmas Carols
(Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, O Little town of Bethlehem, The First Noel)
FM 37245 (CD: Christmas with Placido Domingo)
Orchestra – Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Conductor -Lee Holdridge

Deborah Henson-Conant
Golden Cage (CD: The Gift)
Harp– Deborah Henson-Conant

Kiri te Kanawa recordings
TELDEC 99000 (CD: Christmas with Kiri te Kanawa) 
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Choir of Lichfield Cathedral
The Choir of Coventry Cathedral
Conductor – R. Stapleton
Vocals – Kiri te Kanawa

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Naxos 8.990005 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – Richard Hayman

Rochester Pops Orchestra
Koch CHD 1531 (CD: Joy to the World – Carols for Orchestra and Chorus)

St Louis Philharmonic Orchestra
Sonari records – 7 55724 00272 3 (CD: Christmas with the Philharmonic)
Conductor – Robert Hart Baker

Robert Shaw Chorale 
RCA 6429 – 2 – RG (CD: A Festival of Carols)
(Arrangers – Robert Shaw/Alice Parker)