A Little Music to Remember Me By: Frances Willard’s Music Box

Music box in the parlor (Photo copyright Donna Wesley Spencer)

One of the objects we often like to highlight in our collection is the music box in the parlor. It was given to Frances Willard as a memorial gift when Mother Willard passed away in 1892.  It was made in Geneva, Switzerland and has a “double mandolin effect”.  It was given to Miss Willard by Countess Somers in 1894, the mother of Willard’s close friend and British counterpart Lady Henry Somerset. Knowing that Willard thought of purchasing a small music box she told her that she would like to give her a music box and she told her that she might select the music it should play. Willard at once said “I had not thought that such a thing were possible but if I can have just exactly the music I would most prize in a music box it would be the six hymns that Mother loved the best.”

The playlist inside the lid (Photo copyright Donna Wesley Spencer)

The list was furnished for the manufacturers as it appears in the music box, but when Lady Henry Somerset arranged the music she did not recollect that the English tune for “Nearer My God to Thee” is different from the American tune for that hymn, hence the one on the list is unfamiliar to most Americans.

You can enjoy a recording of the music box’s music below.

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