Dost Thou Love Me, Sister Ruth?
Pieces of sheet music are living documents which cannot be fully understood from a visual examination. In order to truly know the message conveyed in a piece of sheet, music, one must hear the music. This video is an attempt to bring to life the sheet music of the duet “Dost Thou Love Me, Sister Ruth?”, which was composed and arranged by John Parry. The music, lyrics, and stage directions come from a piece of sheet music published in 1832 in New York by Firth and Hall. The piece was originally performed by Mme. Vestris and Mr. Harley at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London.
To create the video, the music was entered and sequenced on the computer to create a backing track, upon which both vocal parts were recorded by Rosalie Hooper, WPAMC ’16. Although this version certainly does not sound the same as the original performance by Mme. Vestris and Mr. Harley in London, it is a step towards understanding how audiences in the nineteenth century interacted with satirical music about Quakers.
You are encouraged to take a listen and sing along! Simon’s lines are in green, Ruth’s lines are pink, and the stage directions as given in the sheet music are bracketed and written in white text.
Both images used are photographs taken by Hooper of prints from the collection of the Winterthur Museum, “Dost Thou Love Me, Sister Ruth?” (accession number 1973.0498.003 A,B) and “Costume des Quakers, Bibliothèque de Philadelphie” (accession number 1982.0010.003).
By Rosalie Hooper, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, Class of 2016