Henry D. L. Webster

Rev. Henry D. L. Webster is best known in the world of American song as the writer of a poem which would become the text of Joseph P. Webster's popular song "Lorena."

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In 1856, Webster wrote a poem about his own personal heartbreak. In love with Ella Blocksom, a member of his Universalist Congregation in Zanesville, Ohio, Ella was forced to end the relationship by her brother and caretaker due to financial reasons. Her brother and brother-in-law were wealthy, owning a fondry in Zanesville, Ohio, and would not allow Ella to marry a poor preacher.

In her “break-up” note to Webster, Ella wrote the line “If we try, we shall forget,” which is a part of Webster’s poem. Later that year, after Webster had moved, he met composer Joseph P. Webster (no relation). Joseph Webster was writing a song at the time which required lyrics, and Henry Webster offered his poem about Ella, whose name in the poem was changed to the three-syllable name “Lorena.”

–Christie Finn

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