Stephen Jenks

Mixed chorus
Religious music
Sacred hymns
by popularity
The American Compiler of Sacred HarmonyThe Delights of Harmony; or Norfolk CompilerThe Harmony of Zion
Stephen Jenks (March 17, 1772 – June 3, 1856) was an Yankee tunesmith, teacher, and tunebook compiler. He was born in Glocester, Rhode Island and raised in Ellington, Connecticut. During his life he moved from town to town, living in Ridgefield and New Canaan, Connecticut, Pound Ridge, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, finally settling in Thompson, Ohio in 1829. Between 1799 and 1810 he authored and coauthored more than ten printed collections of sacred and secular music; after moving to Ohio, he became a farmer and a maker of percussion instruments.
Stephen Jenks' music is representative of the type of music being written at that time in rural New England America, a cappella and an interest in melodic writing. However, his music contains striking harmonic progressions, unusual dissonances and cross relations. In "Weeping Nature" (The Delights of Harmony, 1804), for example, Jenks seems to revel in the clash of the E major / minor chord or in the song "Sorrow’s Tear," filled with cross relations between C sharp / C natural. Although many of these result from his use of modal harmony and, as previously mentioned, strong melodic writing for the individual parts, his use of these relations is not simply random, they are used to express the text being set. In "Weeping Nature" the lyrics (probably written by Samuel Stennett) concern the death of the body:
while at the same time urging the pious to the divine will of resignation:
The pull of these two worlds presented in the text, the death of the body and the acceptance of this fact in the wait for eternal life beyond, is reflected in the music with the sudden shifts between a minor and C major, resulting in the clash between the G sharp and G natural, even at one point with a cadence of an E major/minor chord.
The group of tunebooks that Stephen Jenks helped release are as follows:
Many of his tunes are still sung at Sacred Harp singings.