Like a remarkable counterbalance to their ecstatic forms of worship is the meticulous, delicate and decorative style in which the Shakers recorded their spiritual blessing and songs. The manifestations, cards of love and hymns that comprise this series exemplify this distinctive Shaker style. Those of note are described below. The descriptions make reference to the Shaker understanding of God and other heavenly entities, including the founders of the Shaker faith. (See the Historical Note for a brief discussion of these figures.) The items are also described in the context of the Shaker belief in spiritual visitations and messages transmitted through members divinely chosen as "instruments" of such communications. Of the items dated, most were executed during the 1840s, coinciding with the "Era of Manifestations."
Of significant note are the two volumes of hymns and songs, executed in what Irene Zieget described as the "Shaker way of writing music in the beginning." In a fanciful script, lyrics are written above musical notes expressed by letters rather than symbols on a musical bar. In the "Book of Visions" that belonged to a Margaret Appleton, different handwritings suggest more than one recorder. The book includes recordings of visions as well as reflections, addresses, eulogies, obituaries and poems, including one entitled, "What is music." "Testimonies and Visions" is yet another recording of spiritual experiences in Canterbury. Other bound manuscripts include "Explanation of the Holy City," which was intended to accompany a map of the Holy City. (The map is held in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, accession no. 1963-160-5). The volume consists of an index with descriptions of the divisions and suburbs comprising the heavenly kingdom. It also includes a discussion of the use of numbers in spiritual writings; specifically the numbers seven, ten and twelve. More earthly guidance is given in "Holy Mother Wisdom's Means for Protecting the Children." The slim volume includes something of a preface explaining the origin of the book; namely, James Wardley appears to an "instrument" to explain that the box delivered earlier by an angel holds the book.
The remaining items in this series consist of three sets of spiritual writings, recorded on loose sheets of paper. Most of the twenty "cards of love" are noted on one side as messages from "Mother Ann" and from the "Holy Savior" on verso. Several others are "Words on a Card" from Holy Mother Wisdom. Each card is addressed to a particular individual, some of whom are recipients of both types of cards. Intended as an accompaniment to the cards is a small booklet, "Holy Mother's Words Concerning the Cards." As the booklet is dated August 20, 1842, it appears to pertain only to her cards, all of which are dated July 10, 1842, which would therefore be the date of Holy Mother's "visit." The cards of love from Mother Ann carry later dates. All but one of the twenty-three "Manifestations from Mt. Lebanon" are messages from Holy Mother Wisdom, Mother Ann or Father Joseph. Somewhat different is the birthday ode to "Elder Arthur," who was celebrating his sixty-first birthday. The ode includes instructions that it be sung to the tune of Civil War song "Marching to Georgia." An itemized list of both sets of spiritual writings is included in the checklist to the Museum's 1962 exhibition. The items in both sets follow the order given in the checklist.
The last set of spiritual messages is the most creative, visually. The "Olive Leaf...love and blessing from Abraham of Old..." consists of five sheets, individually addressed. Crafted in 1844-1845, each is a lengthy message, recorded on both sides of green paper cut in the shape of an olive leaf.