Witch Hunt - history told in music, sound, and story

Episode 2 - The City on a Hill

October 31, 2020 Brian O'Connell Season 1 Episode 2
Witch Hunt - history told in music, sound, and story
Episode 2 - The City on a Hill
Show Notes

Samuel Parris takes on the job as minister to Salem Village, a marginalized farming community split by rivalry and controversy. Salem Village is overshadowed by the larger and much more prosperous Salem Town, one of the two largest towns in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony is ruled by the Puritans, who have broken away from the Church of England and colonized New England in hopes of creating a model Christian society, a "City on a Hill”. Crisis evolves as newer generations lack the religious enthusiasm of the founders. Hardship presses down on the colony on many fronts: war with Native tribes,  disease epidemics, religious controversy, political and economic crisis. The entry of Parris into the powder keg that is Salem Village sets off a firestorm of persecution and retribution. 

All music written by Brian O'Connell, except "Second Meter - Psalm 119", adapted from The Bay Psalm Book, 1698. 

Episode II Parts: 

Part I - The Parsonage - Parris, with his family and Tituba, come to Salem Village 

Part II - The City on the Hill - the story of the Puritans and New England (Second Meter - Psalm 119) 

Part III - The Great Migration (w/ some lyrics borrowed from Michael Wigglesworth’s poem: “God’s Controversy with New England”, 1662) 

Part IV - Village vs. Town 

Part V - The Parsonage Reprise (w/ text taken from the sermon book of Samuel Parris, 1690-1691) 


The Great Migration 

We have crossed the ocean of rebirth

Planted seeds in this God given earth


Behold the pleasures of the fruitful fields

Flowing full of all good things that they yield


Realize his will 

Let the world see the city on the hill

His word shall be fulfilled, his kingdom we shall build


Search your soul and pray for holy grace

Confess your sins let the tears baptize your face


Only a very few are chosen to be saved

The Devil takes the rest for his own to be enslaved


By searching deep within

You might find a clue and then begin

To see the holy truth, to realize your sin

We brought ourselves to plant on the western shore

Where none but beasts and warriors did swarm


One wave another follow and one disease begins

Before another cease because we turn not from our sins


Our fruitful seasons cast in doubt

Through great pain and dry and parching drought

Defenders in a route, our hopes are all dashed out


The clouds gather as if we finally will see rain

But for our sinfulness are scattered round again


We pray and fast as if to take a turn

But we turn not and our fields and fruits will burn


Oh sinful land don’t think it strange

If judgement comes down on you unless you change

The Devil in a rage, affairs must rearrange

Brian O'Connell - voice, bass guitar, fretless bass, 8-string bass, piccolo bass (solo on The Great Migration), 6 and 12-string acoustic guitars, keyboards, moog synthesizers, bass drum 

Mike Harmon - drums, cymbals, percussion 

Recorded at Studio Vinniechops and Wachusett Recording



"A Storm of Witchcraft - The Salem Witch Trials and the American Experience“ 

by Emerson W. Baker, Oxford University Press, 2015


"Salem Possessed - The Social Origins of Witchcraft“ 

by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Harvard University Press, 1974


"The Puritans in America - Narrative Anthology”

edited by Alan Heimert and Andrew Delbanco, Harvard University Press, 1985

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