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Sabbath in Puritan New England   By: (1851-1911)

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Sabbath in Puritan New England by Alice Morse Earle is a deeply insightful and thought-provoking exploration of the unique religious practices and customs that shaped the Sabbath day in early colonial America. Drawing from a wide range of historical documents and firsthand accounts, Earle offers readers an unparalleled glimpse into the religious fervor and strict observance that defined life in Puritan New England.

One of the book's greatest strengths is its meticulous attention to detail. Earle delves into the minutiae of daily life, meticulously recounting everything from the clothing worn on the Sabbath to the kinds of sermons delivered and the specific biblical passages that were emphasized. This level of detail allows readers to truly immerse themselves in the world of Puritan New England and gain a more nuanced understanding of the cultural and religious forces that shaped the Sabbath.

Moreover, Earle's writing style is engaging and accessible, making complex historical concepts easily understandable. She masterfully weaves together historical anecdotes, quotes, and extracts from sermons to create a vivid picture of what Sabbath observance meant to the Puritans. By presenting a diverse range of perspectives, both from key figures in the Puritan community and from ordinary individuals, Earle offers a well-rounded portrayal of the diverse beliefs and practices that existed within this religious society.

One of the standout features of Sabbath in Puritan New England is its exploration of the tensions and contradictions inherent in Puritan Sabbath observance. Earle highlights the strict regulations imposed on the Sabbath, including the prohibition of secular activities, as well as the penalties and public shaming that awaited those who failed to comply. However, she also delves into the ways in which Puritans sought to find moments of joy and community within these rigid constraints, such as through the singing of psalms and the exchanges of hospitality.

If there is one criticism to be made, it is that at times the book becomes somewhat repetitive. Earle frequently reiterates certain themes and ideas, which can be distracting and dilute the impact of her insights. However, overall, this minor flaw does not detract significantly from the overall quality of the work.

In conclusion, Sabbath in Puritan New England is an illuminating and engrossing study that sheds light on a crucial aspect of American colonial history. Alice Morse Earle's meticulous research and engaging storytelling make this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the religious thought and practices of one of America's earliest communities. Whether a history enthusiast or a casual reader, Sabbath in Puritan New England is a must-read for those seeking a deeper understanding of the social and cultural dynamics that shaped our nation's past.

First Page:

PG Editor's Note: In addition to various other variations of grammar and spelling from that old time, the word "their" is spelled as "thier" 17 times. It has been left there as "thier".



Alice Morse Earle

Seventh Edition

To the Memory of my Mother.


I. The New England Meeting House II. The Church Militant III. By Drum and Horn and Shell IV. The Old Fashioned Pews V. Seating the Meeting VI. The Tithingman and the Sleepers VII. The Length of the Service VIII. The Icy Temperature of the Meeting House IX. The Noon House X. The Deacon's Office XI. The Psalm Book of the Pilgrims XII. The Bay Psalm Book XIII. Sternhold and Hopkins' Version of the Psalms XIV. Other Old Psalm Books XV. The Church Music XVI. The Interruptions of the Services XVII. The Observance of the Day XVIII. The Authority of the Church and the Ministers XIX. The Ordination of the Minister XX. The Ministers XXI. The Ministers' Pay XXII. The Plain Speaking Puritan Pulpit XXIII. The Early Congregations

The Sabbath in Puritan New England.


The New England Meeting House.

When the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth they at once assigned a Lord's Day meeting place for the Separatist church, "a timber fort both strong and comely, with flat roof and battlements;" and to this fort, every Sunday, the men and women walked reverently, three in a row, and in it they worshipped until they built for themselves a meeting house in 1648... Continue reading book >>

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