The Church
In The Wildwood
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The Church
In The Wildwood
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    There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood,
    No lovelier place in the dale;
    No spot  is so dear to my childhood,
    As the little brown church in the vale.

    Refrain

    Oh come to the church in the wildwood,
    Oh, come to the church in the dale,
    No spot is so dear to my childhood,
    As the little brown church in the vale.

    How sweet on a clear, Sabbath morning,
    To list to the clear ringing bell;
    Its tones so sweetly are calling,
    Oh, come to the church in the vale.

    Refrain

    There, close by the church in the valley,
    Lies one that I loved so well;
    She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, ’neath the willow,
    Disturb not her rest in the vale.

    Refrain

    There, close by the side of that loved one,
    To trees where the wild flowers bloom,
    When the farewell hymn shall be chanted
    I shall rest by her side in the tomb.

    Refrain

    From the church in the valley by the wildwood,
    When day fades away into night,
    I would fain from this spot of my childhood
    Wing my way to the mansions of light.

The Church
In The Wildwood
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The Church
In The Wildwood
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History
          
    The Church in the Wildwood" is a song that was written by Dr. William S. Pitts in 1857
    following a coach ride that stopped in Bradford, Iowa. It is a song about a church in a valley
    near the town, though the church was not actually built until several years later. In the years
    since, the church has become known simply as "the Little Brown Church".

    During a stagecoach ride to visit his fiancée in Fredericksburg, Iowa, the stage stopped at
    Bradford and allowed Pitts time to wander the area and enjoy the woodlands. Pitts found
    particular beauty in a wooded valley formed by the Cedar River. While viewing the spot, Pitts
    envisioned a church building there and could not seem to ease the vision from his mind.
    Returning to his home in Wisconsin, he wrote "The Church in the Wildwood" for his own
    sake, eventually saying of its completion, "only then was I at peace with myself."[1]

    By 1862 Pitts was married, and he and his wife moved to Fredericksburg to be near her
    elderly parents. He was surprised upon his return to the area to find a church being erected
    where he had imagined it five years before. The building was even being painted brown,
    because that was the least expensive color of paint to be found. During the winter of 1863-
    64 he taught a singing class at Bradford Academy. Pitts had his class sing the song at the
    dedication of the new church in 1864. This was the first time the song was sung by anyone
    apart from Pitts himself.

    In 1865, Pitts moved to Chicago, Illinois, to enroll in Rush Medical College. To pay his
    enrollment fees, he sold the rights to the song to a music publisher for $25. He completed
    medical school, graduating in 1868, but the song was again forgotten.

    Nearing the twentieth century, small Bradford was in great decline. The village had been
    bypassed by a new railroad through Nashua, Iowa, two miles west, and the flour mill moved
    to New Hampton, Iowa to be on a bigger river. The town was once the county seat, but
    population was in steady decline, and the church had grown neglected. In 1888, the church
    was closed.
 
William S. Pitts (1830-1918)
Music by:  Dr. William S. Pitts
Lyrics by:  Dr. William S. Pitts
Date:  1857
 
"the Little Brown Church"