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Nathaniel Hall, 1805-1875.
Nathaniel Hall
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 Minister of the First Church from 1835 through 1875.

Hall's Way
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 His published sermons include:

An Address Delivered in the First church, Dorchester, Thursday, April 7, 1842, at the Funeral of Rev. Thaddeus Mason Harris, D.D. Formerly Pastor of That Church. By Nathaniel Hall, its Present Pastor. Boston, B.H. Greene, 1842.

The Christian Ministry: a Sermon Preached at the Ordination of Mr. Hiram Withington as Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Leominster, December 25, 1844 by Nathaniel Hall; with the Charge, Right Hand of Fellowship, and the Address to the Society. Boston: Wm. Crosby and H.P. Nichols, 1845.

Discourse delivered before the Third Religious Society, Dorchester, at the Funeral of its Late Pastor, Rev. Richard Pike, February 20, 1863. By Rev. Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company, 1863.

A Discourse Delivered in the First Church, Dorchester, on the Sunday Succeeding the Funeral of Robert Thaxter, M.D. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston, Ebenezer Clapp, Jr., 1852.

Discourse on the life and character of Rev. John Pierpont, preached in the First Church, Dorchester, Sunday, Sept. 2, 1866. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Walker, Fuller and Company, 1866.

Do justly. A sermon preached at Dorchester, on Sunday, Dec. 14, 1845. By Nathaniel Hall, Pastor of the First Church. Boston: Wm. Crosby and H.P. Nichols, 1845.

The iniquity: A Sermon in the First Church, Dorchester, on Sunday Dec. 11, 1859. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Printed by J. Wilson & Son, 1859.

The Limits of Civil Obedience. A sermon Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, January 12, 1851. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Wm. Crosby and H. P. Nichols, 1851.

The Lord Reigneth. A Sermon Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, June 1, 1856. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Crosby, Nichols and Company, 1856.

A Memorial of Edward Everett: a Discourse Preached in the First church, Dorchester, Sunday, Jan. 22, 1865. By Nathaniel Hall.
Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company; E. Clapp, 1865.

The Moral Significance of the Contrasts Between Slavery and Freedom: a Discourse Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, May 10, 1864. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company; E. Clapp, 1864.

The Proclamation of Freedom. A sermon preached in Dorchester, January 4, 1863, by Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Crosby and Nichols; E. Clapp, 1863.

Religious Forms and Observances by Nathaniel Hall. Boston: James Munroe & Co., [1842]

Righteousness and the Pulpit: a Discourse Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, on Sunday, Sept. 30, 1855. Boston, Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1855

A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Henry Callander, Preached in the Church of the First Parish, Dorchester, January 18, 1874. [Cambridge, Mass., Press of J. Wilson & son] 1874.

A Sermon Preached at Dorchester, Sunday, Jan. 27, 1861. Boston: John Wilson, 1861.

A Sermon Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, on Sunday, June 12th, 1853 by Nathaniel Hall. Boston : D. Clapp, 1853. Cover-title: A Tribute to the Memory of James Pierce.

A Sermon Preached in the First Church, Dorchester, on the Sunday (October 8, 1866) Following upon the Decease of Maria S. Cummins. By Nathaniel Hall. Cambridge, Printed at the Riverside Press, 1866.

A Sermon Preached in the First church, Dorchester, Sunday, November 23, 1844. [n.p.] 1845.

A Sermon Preached in the Meeting-house of the First Church, Dorchester, on Sunday, June 19, 1870: Being the Two Hundred and Fortieth Anniversary of the First Assembling of the Church for Divine Service after its Landing in America by Nathaniel Hall. Boston : Ebenezer Clapp, 1870 (Boston : David Clapp & Son)

The True Unity of the Church: a Discourse Preached in the Church of the Second Parish, Worcester, February 10, 1869, on Occasion of the installation of Rev. Edward H. Hall as Active Pastor of said Parish / by Nathaniel Hall. Worcester: Printed by C. Hamilton, [1869?]

Truth Not to Be Overthrown nor Silenced: a Sermon Preached at Dorchester, Sunday, Jan. 27, 1861. Boston, Printed by J. Wilson and son, 1861.

The Uncorrupt and Incorruptible Statesman; a Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Charles Sumner, Preached in the Church of the First Parish, Dorchester, Sunday, March 15, 1874. [Cambridge? Mass.] 1874.

Want, -- Individual, National: A Sermon Preached at Dorchester, April 16, 1857; Being the day of the Annual Fast. By Nathaniel Hall. Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1857.

1896 Sketch of Hall's Life
 Title Page:

Rev. Nathaniel Hall

Read on Sunday afternoon, January 26, 1896, at the meeting of the Nathaniel Hall Society in the vestry of the First Parish Church, Dorchester, by Richard C. Humphreys.

Next Page:

For the members of the Nathaniel Hall Society this sketch is printed, in the belief that the inspiration of such a life will touch and quicken other lives.



Rev. Nathaniel Hall was born in Medford, Massachusetts, August 13, 1805. Those who knew him in his youth spoke of him as marked by rare purity of heart and life. He very early cherished a desire to enter the ministry; but circumstances led him into business, and for several years he was in the store of a ship-chandler and the office of an insurance company in Boston. Here he showed his strength of character, his intelligence, and a fidelity and industry that promised ultimate success in a business career. But his mind still dwelt upon his fondly cherished hope of becoming a minister of the gospel, and when twenty-seven years of age he entered the Cambridge Divinity School.

Among those in the school at the time were the father of our Mr. Eliot, James Freeman Clarke, William Henry Channing, Theodore Parker, Dr. Bartol, and Dr. George E. Ellis. As soon as Mr. Hall graduated, his eminent fitness for his work as a preacher was very apparent. He had three urgent calls to become pastor, and it was with difficulty that he decided which one to accept. His final decision was to accept the call from our church, and he was ordained July 16, 1835. The mere fact of a pastorate of forty years is worthy of mention, when the connection between pastor and people is so easily severed. When we think that not a single person is now living who took part in the ordination services, and but very few of our present congregation were old enough to attend them, we begin to realize what a change has taken place. Mr. Hall's pastorate of forty years is a striking example of what can be accomplished through the power of character, aided by a sincere and determined purpose to fulfil duty, regardless of personal feelings and inclination.

When I think of his faithful devotion and unswerving fidelity to unpopular truth, his loyalty to freedom, justice, and humanity, when it cost something to be thus true, I realize what his life has been to me and how much I owe to him for whatever I may have been able to do for humanity. He had a remarkable combination of natural modesty and true manly courage, which caused him to lose all thought of self in his desire and effort to advance the best interests of society; and I am glad of an opportunity to bear my testimony to the grandeur and beauty of his character, his warm affectionateness, his fidelity to truth, his sympathy for down-trodden humanity, and his unflinching advocacy of what he considered true righteousness.

I like to think of his fearless firmness, his eloquence as a pulpit orator, his uncompromising patriotism, and his perfect independence when the call of duty came to advocate some unpopular truth.

I can see him now as he stood in his pulpit, forty years ago, in the days that tried men's souls, pleading for the slave, showing clearly that he realized the dignity and the importance of his ministerial office. He spoke plainly, earnestly, and boldly, and at times rose to a fervor of eloquence that made his solemn and burning words of truth, though unwelcome, quite con- vincing. I remember one sermon that he preached about the time of the return of Anthony Burns to slavery, when he spoke so plainly, so fervently, and advocated so strongly our duty to the "higher law" (that is, the law of God as above the Supreme Court of the United States), that some five or six men went out of the church during the sermon; yet he stood firm, and showed that spirit of which heroes and martyrs are made. With all his manliness, strength, and courage, he had blended with these an almost feminine gentleness and loveliness. He had a saintly face and angelic smile. Mr. Hall was tall and a very rapid walker, and even our present pastor would have found it hard to keep up with him in that particular.

My first remembrance of him is when he lived on Sumner Street, in the house adjoining Deacon Ebenezer Clapp's. He had invited the Sunday-school to a party at his house, and all I remember of him or the party is his passing the cakes through a slide from the pantry. His oldest son was a playmate of mine, and I spent many a happy hour at his house. That son afterward entered the army, in the War of the Rebellion, and lost his life, or rather gave it, in the battle of Kenesaw Mountain. A charge was to be made by our troops, and a call was made for volunteers to lead the forlorn hope, and he responded. He would not send his men where he would not go himself; so, with his sword drawn, he took the head of the column, and when within a few rods of the enemy's entrenchments, they opened fire, and he fell pierced by a dozen bullets. Mr. Hall was so filled with patriotism and felt so keenly the need of patriotic devotion to country that he was proud to have a son willing to sacrifice his life on the altar of liberty, and on the Sunday after receiving the tidings he stood in his pulpit and with bowed head but steadfast heart preached a sermon from the text, "It is well," in which with words of wonderful sublimity and pathos he calmly accepted the sacrifice and resigned his son to the cause of humanity and of God. Surely, as has been said, the splendid courage of the son was but the natural outgrowth of the more splendid courage of the father.

I well remember the last time Mr. Hall preached in our pulpit. It was the first Sunday in July, 1875, and it came upon the national anniversary. His text was, "I have a goodly heritage. " When in his usual health he had a commanding, dignified presence, with a strong voice and impressive gesture; but that day his voice was weak, he spoke hesitatingly, his manly form was bent, and he excited the sympathy of his audience. He conducted. the communion service in the afternoon, but not with his usual vigor. He was able to walk home, but with great difficulty. He continued to grow weaker, and on the loth of October he sent in his resignation as pastor, with a letter bidding farewell to his parishioners, closing with these words: "I leave you, invoking upon you as a society and individually the blessing of Heaven. My work is done. I wish it had been done better. Accept each of you the loving fare- well of your aged minister."

He died October 21, 1875.

At the funeral services, held in the meeting-house, a pew in front was reserved for noted philanthropists and reformers; and I remember escorting William Lloyd Garrison, then in feeble health, to his seat. Wendell Phillips came occasionally to hear Mr. Hall, as did other notable reformers. With all his seriousness and dignity of character he had a vein of humor, and at times was very witty. He could enjoy a good joke or a pleasant story with his friends as much as anyone. In conclusion let me say, if I were asked to give my impressions of this good man as to the secret of his success in life, I would say it was the silent influence of his life and character and his true love for humanity. Who can tell how much his forty years of devoted service in Dorchester did to mould and build the character not only of those who heard him from the pulpit but of those who met him in the every- day walks of life? He was loved and respected by the people, by all who knew him; and almost everyone in this part of the town not only knew him but looked upon him as their minister. During the first half of his ministry this was almost the only church in this part of the town.

He was always called to the house of mourning; and this reminds me of a trait in his character of which I have not spoken, and that is his sympathy. To my mind that is what made him a prematurely old man. The death of one of his parishioners was to him like the loss of one of his own family. And when called to the bedside of a person who did not attend the church or was not of his parish, it made no difference, --the same loving sympathy went out from him to the mourning friends. I have enjoyed looking over these forty years. It has been very helpful to me, and I trust not without interest to you. I am glad this society is named for Nathaniel Hall, for if you knew him as I have done you could not speak his name without an influence for good. In preparing for our Sunday-school lesson today I was continually reminded of him; for, like the prophet Micah, he was constantly lifting up his voice against the evils of his day.

"Far off thou art, but ever nigh;
I have thee still, and I rejoice.
I prosper, circled with thy voice.
I shall not lose thee though I die."

Page 11:

"As in the gloom the light
Of distant stars, long ages dead,
Still on a darkling path is shed,
Guiding men through the night,

"So from the Far-away
Light from the death-sealed lips of sages,
Streaming down through mists of ages,
Brightens our path today."

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Nathaniel HallHall's WayNathaniel HallRev. Nathaniel Hall House, Columbia Road
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Created: October 19, 2003   Modified: December 20, 2009