John Speller's Web Pages Within a valley green and still

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The author of the text, Emily Sullivan Oakey (1829-1883) was educated at the Albany Female Academy in Albany, New York, where she was later one of the faculty teaching Rhetoric and Composition. It is said she never enjoyed a single day of good health in her entire life of fifty-four years, but at the school she was beloved of students and faculty alike. Her poem "A Christmas Idyl" was originally published in the Episcopal magazine The Churchman. She published a book of Dialogues and Conversations Designed for the Use of Schools (New York, 1879), which suggests that she was a delightful and humorous teacher who took great pains to make her subject interesting to her students. She also published a book of poetry, At the Feet of Parnassus (Albany, 1883).

"A Christmas Idyl" was set to music in 1896 by John Baker Marsh (1831-1912), who was born in Ohio but spent most of his life in Albany, New York. He was a colleague of Emily Sullivan Oakey at the Albany Female Academy, where he was the Vocal Music teacher, and was also the founding President of the Albany Musical Association. He was organist of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Albany, and also of the masonic Master's Lodge No.5 in Albany.

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Apse of St.Peter's Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, built in 1859
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