Our Duty in the Crisis

​26 September  1861

On August 12, 1861, President Lincoln, acting in response to a Joint Committee of the Congress, declared “a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace” to be observed on the last Thursday of the following September.[1] 

In response to the request of the president for “all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility and with all religious solemnity,” the citizens of Simsbury, Connecticut on this day gather in the Methodist Episcopal Church to hear a sermon by the Reverend Ichabod Simmons. The 37-year old former cabinet maker has served as the pastor in Simsbury for only about one year coming to the church as his first assignment to a congregation. In a sermon entitled, Our Duty in the Crisis, Simmons chooses a passage from the Old Testament prophet Zechariah for the observance:

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”[2] [Zechariah 13:9]

The sermon is not only a call for humiliation, prayer and fasting as Lincoln intended, but Simmons stirs the citizens with an urgent appeal to sacrifice in the service on their country.

“Loyalty is not mere patriotism; that is love of country, right or wrong; but loyalty is love of country kindled into a brighter glow by the love of principle. It is the soul mounting above mere affection, into the atmosphere of heroic sacrifice. Life is not too sacred for its altars and nothing but duty should keep any from the post of danger.” [3]

It is unknown if Oliver Case was in attendance, but it would have been possible since he did not have to report for duty with the 8th Connecticut until the following day at Hartford.

Endnotes:

[1] Proclamation 85 – Proclaiming a Day of National Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting. Abraham Lincoln, August 12, 1861.

[2] Holy Bible, King James Translation, 1609.

[3] Our Duty in the Crisis: A Discourse Delivered on the Occasion of the National Fast. An Unpublished Sermon by Ichabod Simmons, September 26, 1861.

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