Raymond Cooper Hamrick, a Tribute

Mary Brownlee, Rosemund Watson, and Martha Harrell leading at Hamrick’s 99th birthday singing, Roberta, Georgia, June 14, 2014. Photograph by Aldo Ceresa.

Editor’s Note: Raymond Hamrick taught Mary Brownlee and her sisters Rosemund Watson and Martha Harrell to sing, and for many decades Hamrick joined Brownlee and Watson to practice shape-note songs old and new at Brownlee’s home in Barnesville. Brownlee read this tribute to Hamrick at the 2015 Emmaus Primitive Baptist Church Singing, Thomaston, Georgia, and the Middle Georgia Singing, Union Primitive Baptist Church, Goggans, Georgia.

Some of us knew Raymond Hamrick all our lives, some not as long, but to all of us he was a much-loved teacher, mentor, author, and friend. We all enjoyed a social relationship with him. He was widely read and was a delightful conversationalist. He told us the backstory of many of the songs and their authors, including his own. His deep faith and spirituality were shown in his own songs of praise and adoration to our Redeemer and Heavenly Father. There is no finer tribute or memorial than the legacy of the beautiful songs he authored. We hope they will be sung by generations to come.

We knew Raymond through his nearly lifelong association with Sacred Harp, but he was known mainly in Macon as a master watch and clock repairman and jeweler. He often made house calls to repair clocks that could not be brought into his shop. I saw him often at his workbench, working with tiny parts and tools. Precision and time marked his professional life, and he instructed us, and sometimes admonished us, to pay attention to the time signature in our songs.

I have paraphrased some words taken from an epitaph of a master watch and clock maker who lived in the 1700s1 as an apt tribute and memorial to Raymond Hamrick: Integrity was the mainspring, and prudence the regulator of the actions of his life. He had the art of disposing of his time so well, that his hours glided by in harmony and dignity. He ran down November 24, 2014, in hopes of being taken in hand by his Maker, thoroughly cleaned, repaired, wound up, and set going in the world to come, when time shall be no more.

Raymond C. Hamrick at his workbench at Andersen’s Jewelers, courtesy of Patti Hamrick Dancy.

  1. This watch and clock maker was George Routleigh (1745–1802), who is buried at the Lydford churchyard in Dartmoor, England. The epitaph’s earliest known printing is in a 1786 issue of the Derby Mercury, in which the fictional deceased is named “Peter Pendulum.”—Ed. []

About Mary Brownlee

Mary Brownlee is a graceful leader and a long-time member of the South Georgia Sacred Harp Convention. She lives in her immaculately kept and creatively designed home in Barnesville, Georgia.
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