Sunday July 20th Have been to church all day Mr Whitwell
preached felt very sleepy and heard but a
little of the sermon After meeting went over
to the Methodist meetinghouse to a sing. There are
some fine singers there. Oakes A & Orinthia called
for Louisa Swan and brought her to the sing & Orinthia
went back to Mr. Howards
The Ames family was Unitarian. Three generations of them, from Old Oliver to little Susie, dutifully attended church almost every Sunday, just as Evelina did today. Their attachment to the Unitarian service, however, didn’t preclude tolerance of other Protestant congregations in town. The Ameses and others were generally friendly with the Methodists who, like the Unitarians, had broken with the “dark and hopeless Calvinism”* that once prevailed in the meeting houses of New England.
The Methodists had a long history in Easton, the first near-one-hundred years of which were recounted in chatty detail by Unitarian minister and town historian, William Chaffin, in his 1886 History of Easton.* As the Methodists, founded by Wesley brothers John and Charles, gained adherents in the late 18th and early 19th century, the sect took hold in Easton, too, shortly after the demise of the local Baptist Society. In addition to their welcoming services and missionary zeal, Methodists offered something special to congregations everywhere: Music.
The “sing” that Evelina went to today at the Methodist meeting house was a gathering to sing hymns, many of which were written by the Wesley brothers themselves. Also in attendance was at least one Ames son, and probably the other two as well. The boys enjoyed the sings, both for the music and for the chance to socialize with other young people. Oliver (3), who was very musical, was particularly fond of the gatherings.
* William Chaffin, History of Easton, 1886.