Author: Mary B. C. Slade

Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (1826–1882) was a teacher and musical composer. She also served as the assistant editor of the New England Journal of Education and, later, as founding editor of Wide Awake. Her husband was a minister. While she is best known for the lyrics to “Soldiers’ Memorial Day” (1870), the music for which was composed by William O. Perkins, she also wrote the lyrics to over one hundred hymns, including “Sweetly, Lord, Have We Heard Thee Calling,” “Up to the Bountiful Giver of Life,” “Who at My Door Is Standing?” and “Beyond This Land of Parting.”

Soldier’s Memorial Day

Mary B. C. Slade

This poem/song is the first of two selections that speak explicitly about decorating the graves of the warrior dead. It was written in 1870, just two years after, and in response to, General Logan’s order to establish an annual Decoration Day in honor of the memory of the fallen Union soldiers. Mary B. C. Slade (1826–82), poet and author of numerous Protestant hymns, wrote the words; composer and musician William Oscar Perkins (1831–1902) supplied the music.