Table of Contents

Helen E. C. Balmer
  1. Opening Ode - Gavel
  2. Welcome
  3. Opening Ode - Hear Us
  4. Greeting
  5. Be True
  6. Song Of Cheer (short version)
  7. One Step At A Time
  8. Eastern Star Hymn
  9. Welcome To Candidates
  10. For Initiation
  11. In Memoriam
  12. Song Of Cheer (long version)
  13. The Old Old Story
  14. Christmas Greeting
  15. Closing Hymn
  16. For Installation
  17. Bright Eastern Star
  18. Sing
  19. Storms Of Life
  20. Memorial Biography of Sister Helen E.C. Balmer

A Song Service

for the use of members of the
Order of the

Eastern Star

Written and arranged by
(P. W. G. M. of Michigan.)

Robert Smith Printing Co., Lansing, Mich.

Copyright by
Helen††E.C. Balmer
October 10, 1904
All Rights Reserved

[All but the last one of the poems in this section are from a chapbook with this cover and title page shown above. I have two copies of this 4-1/4"x6", 28-page chapbook, the earlier one says "copyright applied for", and doesn't include the final song in the later edition.]

[On the title page of the booklet above was the following poem (to which I've added the title Sing) presumably by Mrs. Balmer, although it was untitled and in quotes.


Sing when the heart is troubled,
Sing when the hours are long,
Sing when the storm clouds gather,
Sweet is the voice of song.
Sing when the heart's deep longings,
Cease on the other shore.
Then with the countless numbers there,
Sing on for evermore.

[I've tried to provide links to some of the songs, but some, like this, I've been unable to identify. It may be "Keep in the Line," but I'm unsure. okl.]

1. Opening Ode

Tune, "Marching Along."

The sound of the gavel with welcoming call,
Bears greeting fraternal to each one and all,
For here friend meets friend, faithful, trusted and true,
And here at the Altar our vows we renew.

Then hail to the beacon-light seen in the East,
That sheds peace and joy on our annual feast,
And bids us remember wherever we are
To "walk in the light" of the bright "Eastern Star."

The work well begun, has continued for years,
And prospered in spite of all doubtings and fears,
And now as we gather again for our task,
Let wisdom be ours is the blessing we ask.

Let kindness and love be our watchword and guide,
Be true to their teachings whatever betide.
Be true to our faith, that wherever we are,
We "walk in the light" of the bright "Eastern Star."

Then guide us, dear Father, in all that we do,
And aid us as we shall our labors pursue,
And help us to live so that when life is o'er,
We'll dwell in the land of the blest evermore.

"Our Father in Heaven," Oh, list to our prayer,
And keep and protect us, with Thy loving care,
And lead us to follow wherever we are,
The unfading light of the bright "Eastern Star."

April 2, 1903 H.E.C.B.

2. Welcome

Tune, "Bringing in the Sheaves."


Once again assembled
In a glad reunion
Of our loyal members in the Chapter room,
Let all care and sorrow
Banish 'till the morrow
In this pleasant hour grief shall be unknown.
Welcome, one and all,
Welcome, one and all,
Let us join our voices in one glad refrain,
That the coming year
Abound in hope and cheer,
At our next reunion may all meet again.


Some were wont to greet us
Who no more will meet us
With their smile of welcome, as in days of yore.
But just o'er the river,
They'll be waiting ever,
First to bid us welcome, when Life's journey's o'er.
On the other shore,
On the other shore,
They'll be first to welcome us, when life is o'er.
And this hope imparts
Peace to sorrowing hearts,
In the last reunion, we'll meet to part no more.


In a cause united,
We our faith have plighted,
May our path be lighted, with the smiles of love.
And the work grow dearer,
And the way seem clearer,
As each day draws nearer to the home above.
Happy home above,
Happy home above,
Where farewells and partings ever are unknown.
In that better land
May this faithful band,
Meet and greet each other, when Life's work is done.

1903, H. E. C. B.

3. Opening Ode

Tune, "Scatter Seeds of Kindness."


Heavenly Father, hear our pleading,
As we come before Thee now.
Listen to our supplication,
While we at the altar bow.
Let Thy blessings rest upon us
And Thy love our watchword be.
Guide us by Thy pure example,
And the lessons taught by Thee.
Oh, hear us Father, hear us !
Our gracious Father, hear us.
And listen to Thy children
As we meekly come to Thee.


There are thorns along Life's pathway,
There are crosses all must bear.
There are sorrows in abundance,
And the lightest heart has care.
Yet, dear Father, Thou has promised,
Thou wilt be our friend and guide.
And we ask that we may ever,
In Thy promise sure abide.
Oh, hear us Father, hear us !
Our gracious Father, hear us.
And listen to Thy children
As we meekly come to Thee.


In the labors of this hour,
May we feel thy presence near,
And the smile of Thy approval,
Fill our waiting hearts with cheer.
As the wise men sought the Savior,
Guided by the light from far,
So may we be faithful followers,
Of the beautiful "Eastern Star."
Oh, hear us Father, hear us !
Our gracious Father, hear us.
And listen to Thy children
As we meekly come to Thee.

July 11, 1902, H. E. C. B.

4. Greeting

Tune, "Hold the Fort."

In our song of cheerful greeting
Let each bear a part.
In this hour of joyful meeting
Dear to every heart.
That the bright Star we all have followed,
Still beams clear and bright.
And through "Life's long day" will guide us
E'en through "Death's dark night."

Here we often meet strange faces,
Here form friendships new.
Feel the clasp of hand fraternal
Of old friends tried and true.
For a common tie unites us
Whereso'er we are,
'Tis our interest in the "Order
Of the Eastern Star."

Let us then keep moving forward
'Till the race is o'er.
'Till we hear the songs of welcome
From the farther shore.
Then our own glad song of triumph
Will be sweeter far,
If we've been true, faithful followers
Of the "Eastern Star."

Sept. 1, 1904, H. E. C. B.

5. Be True

Tune, "Ninety and Nine."

'Twas a cry of anguish that rent his heart,
As he gazed on his daughter so fair.
For Jephtha remembered the vow he had made,
And his soul was filled with despair.
But the maiden his courage and strength well knew,
And only whispered, "Be true, Be true,
Be true to thy vow, my father, Be true."
The weary gleaner who toils all day,
As she gathers the golden grain,
And the noble Queen who fearlessly strives
The pledge from her King to obtain,
Are both as firm in the course they pursue,
To be earnest and loyal in all that they do,
And to Duty's call, Be faithful and true.
Amid earth's trials and sorrows and gloom,
May ours be a firm, trustful faith,
That will lighten the pathway of life to the tomb,
And guide through the "Valley of Death."
Then, Oh, my sister and brother, Be true,
And here at the Altar our vow renew,
To our Order, our Country, our God, be true.

April 10, 1903, H. E. C. B.

[This song appears twice in A Song Service, a short version here as number 6, and a longer one as number 12. okl.]

6. Song of Cheer

Tune, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah."

Join with me, my sisters, brothers,
In a happy, cheerful song,
For the present be forgotten,
Everything that speaks of wrong.
In this hour of pleasant concourse,
Let each act and word of ours,
Show the teaching of our Order,
And its wonder-working powers.

Never mind the little troubles
That beset us on Life's way,
Shutting out the glorious sunshine,
That should brighten every day.
Never stop to cherish anger,
When forgiveness is so sweet,
Check the hasty words and answer,
Making joy the more complete.

Sept. 15, 1903, H. E. C. B.

7. One Step at a Time

Tune, "Portugese Hymn."
["Adestes Fideles"]

"One step at a time," as we jostle along
One step at a time, 'mid the world's busy throng,
But wherever we stand, or, if fainting, we fall,
Remember 'tis God's hand, that leadeth us all.

Though cloudy the sky and the storms rage o'erhead,
And rugged the pathway our weary feet tread,
Or slow our advancement, let nothing appall,
We know that 'tis God's love that watches o'er all.

Then patiently forward, and "Walk in the light"
Of the "Star in the East," that will guide us aright.
Have faith in the promise, whatever befall,
God's love will sustain us and triumph o'er all.

Jan. 25, 1904, H. E. C. B.

8. Eastern Star Hymn

Tune, "Annie Laurie."

Assembled round our Altar
In adoration true,
Our sacred Obligation
To once again renew.
To once again renew,
To once again renew,
Our sacred obligation
To once again renew.

The star that beamed so brightly
Afar o'er Judea's plain,
Still shines and bids us follow
The Star of Bethlehem.
The Star of Bethlehem,
The Star of Bethlehem,
Still shines and bids us follow
The Star of Bethlehem.

Let Peace and Love surround us,
No strife nor discord mar;
Live in the Light and Splendor
Of the Beautiful Eastern Star.
Of the Beautiful Eastern Star,
Of the Beautiful Eastern Star,
Live in the Light and Splendor
Of the beautiful Eastern Star.

June, 1900, H. E. C. B.

9. Welcome to Candidates

Tune, "Onward Christian Soldiers."


Welcome to our Order
To our Chapter Room.
To our place of meeting,
Our fraternal home.
Duties new await you,
Joys unknown before,
Friendships formed that ever,
Joys increase the more.
Welcome to our Order
To our Chapter Room.
To our place of meeting,
Our fraternal home.


Teachings of our Order
Are of truth and right,
Helping one another,
Make life's pathway bright.
Whispering words of comfort,
Cheering sorrowing hearts,
When stern duty calleth,
Bravely bear you part.
Welcome to our Order
To our Chapter Room.
To our place of meeting,
Our fraternal home.


Loyal then and faithful,
Be to vows you make,
Like the "Blessed Master"
Your life a blessing make.
Then our cherished Order,
Strength will gain from you,
And you'll be the richer,
In friends tried and true.
Welcome to our Order
To our Chapter Room.
To our place of meeting,
Our fraternal home.

Aug. 1, 1904, H. E. C. B.

10. For Initiation

At the Altar.

Tune, "Peace, Perfect Peace."


Kneel, suppliant kneel: In thoughtful reverence bow,
And at the Altar, take our solemn vow.


Oh, may each word into thy heart sink deep,
That thou, our sacred obligation keep.


God bless, and hold and guide thee by His hand,
An earnest worker in our faithful band.

Jan 15, 1904, H. E. C. B.

11. In Memoriam

Tune, "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon," or "Sweet Hour of Prayer."


In hours of gladness and of joy,
There comes to us this sad refrain,
That some who oft have met with us,
In Chapter ne'er will meet again,
Their life-work done, its duties o'er,
Its toils and struggles all now past,
But "Some Sweet Day" just as of yore,
We'll meet and greet them all at last.


Their helpful words and pleasant smile,
Have often cheered our weary way,
And counsel wise, the tide has stemmed,
And kept our feet from paths astray.
And though they meet with us no more,
We'll hold in memory 'till the last,
Each loved one gone, and "Some Sweet Day,"
We'll meet and greet as in the past.


Then may the influence of their lives,
Help us to better live and do,
So that it may be said of us,
Faithful until the last and true.
Then faithful to the last and true,
Be this our motto, this our prayer,
That "Some Sweet Day" we'll meet again,
And greet our loved ones "over There."

Sept., 1903, H. E. C. B.

[This song appears twice in A Song Service, both as number 6, and here as number 12. okl.]

12. Song of Cheer

For the Social Hour.

"Written at the request of Sister Hattie C. Derthick, P.W.G.M."
Tune, "A Hot Time in the Old Town."

Join with me, my sisters, brothers, in a happy, cheerful song,
For the present be forgotten everything that speaks of wrong.
In this hour of pleasant concourse, let each act and word of ours,
Show the teaching of our Order, and its wonder-working powers.

Then sing aloud and banish every care,
Though dark the clouds, yield not unto despair,
But gather from Hope's blossoms, both beautiful and rare,
The one sweet comfort Hope and Faith always bring.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Always bring.
When you hear a rumbling in the air,
When dark clouds hang low and full of care,
Then sing your sweetest songs, to a merry, cheerful air,
And you'll be happier as the day passes by.

Never mind the little troubles that beset us on Life's way,
Shutting out the glorious sunshine, that should brighten every day.
Never stop to cherish anger, when forgiveness is so sweet,
Check the hasty words and answer, making joy the more complete.

Then sing aloud our songs of joy and praise,
With one accord our cheerful voices raise,
And sing of Hope and Faith, that shed their cheering rays,
To lighten burden and drive dull care away.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Care away.
When you hear a rumbling in the air,
When dark clouds hang low and full of care,
Then sing your sweetest songs, to a merry, cheerful air,
And you'll be happier as the day passes by.

Sept. 15, 1903, H. E. C. B.

13. The Old, Old Story

Tune, "Nettleton."
["Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"]

We have heard the old, old story,
How the wise men sought the King.
Wandered far from home and country,
The Redeemer's praise to sing,
Guided by the Star that led them
From the gloom of doubt and fear,
Led them to the dear Redeemer,
Filled their souls with love and cheer.

There a brilliant light shone o'er tham,
As they heard the shepherds sing,
(Who beside their flocks were watching,)
"Glory to the new-born King."
That bright Star had led them onward,
To the Savior they would find.
He whose coming had assured them,
Peace and joy to all mankind.

So may we, if only faithful
To our obligation true,
Find the same, dear, loving Savior,
That the wise men early knew.
May we well perform each duty,
So that when the summons comes,
We may hear the joyful plaudit,
Faithful child ! A welcome home.

1902, H. E. C. B.

14. Christmas Greeting

Tune, "Retreat."
"From Every Stormy Wind"

An earnest sincere wish for thee,
May this a "Merry Christmas" be
May peace and plenty be your share,
Be undisturbed by anxious care.

May friends and loved ones gather round,
And at your festive board be found,
And while the pleasant hours away,
With you, this "Merry Christmas" day.

Perhaps a sigh may sometimes fall,
For those who no more hear our call,
Or gathering tear-drops dim the eye,
In memory of the days gone by.

Yet life is sweet, much joy it holds,
And much of beauty still unfolds,
If only with a faith's clear eye,
We seize the joys that near us lie.

Then let me wish for you, Dear Friend,
That faith by yours 'till life shall end.
Each day grow brighter, and this be
The "Merriest Christmas" known to thee.

1902, H. E. C. B.

15. Closing Hymn

Tune, "Precious Promise," or
"A Thousand Years, My Own Columbia."


Finished our work, our labors ended,
Back to our homes we'll soon return.
But may we all some truth have gathered,
Something of good from the lessons learned
Something of good to cheer a brother,
Struggling along life's toilsome way,
Something of good for one another,
Weary and worn with the cares of the day.


As we go forth may each remember,
Our mission is peace, good will to all.
And may the words of our obligation,
This blessed truth to each recall.
"Peace upon earth, good will to mortals,"
Joyfully let our voices ring.
"Peace upon earth, good-will from Heaven,"
This the glad song the angels sing.


Cheerfully then perform each duty,
Bearing life's burdens, one by one.
Merit the smile and approval of Heaven
By cheering some heart with the good you have done.
Then will the world seem brighter and better
The darkest of clouds will all pass away.
The sunshine of love dispel the dark shadows,
And show us the light of Hope's cheering way.


Ere the goodbyes and farewells are spoken,
Join every voice in one glad refrain.
Prayerfully ask in faith believing,
"God be with us 'till we meet again."
Heavenly Father give us Thy blessing,
Keep us 'neath Thy all-sheltering care.
When life is done, Oh, grant us our portion,
We may recieve of Heaven a share.

June 26, 1902, H. E. C. B.

16. For Installation

[No tune specified, so probably to be recited rather than sung. okl.]


My sisters, the stations assigned to you
Are positions of honor and trust,
And in all your transactions with others,
Be kind-hearted, and honest, and just.


May each life be one sweet Benediction !
In the lessons assigned you to teach,
May you show by a living example,
That "'tis better to practice than preach."


May that bright star, whose brilliancy leads us,
And illumines the dreariest way,
As it guided the wise men, so guide you
'Till the close of Life's long, toilsome day.


Sister Adah:
You should teach us, that faithfulness ever,
To convictions of duty and right,
Should our guidence and watchword be always,
That "we live" or "we die in the light."


As the violet sweet is your emblem,
Teaching modesty, beauty and grace,
May your life be adorned by these virtues,
For the loss of which, naught can replace.


Sister Ruth:
You should teach us the lessons of labor;
In our part hath no idler a share;
We should "work for the night-time is coming,"
And provide for those who need our care.


Yours the bright, golden glow of the jasmine,
Bidding you to be constant and true,
And with heart filled with love and with kindness,
Do the work which your hands find to do.


Sister Esther:
Yours is the lesson of Esther's devotion,
How she strove for her kindred and friends,
Willing e'en that her life should be given,
For the wrong of the king make amends.


Let her courage and valor inspire you,
To the welfare of others be true;
Choose the pure white lily, your emblem,
Then no fears for the part borne by you.


Sister Martha:
To some hearts overburdened with sorrow,
And to whom the world seems dark and drear,
May your voice be the one to speak comfort,
To the saddened ones bring hope and cheer.


And to teach, Death is only the portal,
That through which breaks Eternity's dawn,
Thus revealing the glory and splendor,
And the light of an eternal morn.


The bright morn of a day never-ending,
Of a life all-immortal to come,
Which will be, through a faith in God's promise
Ours at last when our Life's day is done.


Sister Electa:
There are many on whom in abundance
All the comforts of life have been shed,
While to others, but woe, want and misery,
Pain and suffering, oft hungering for bread.


As Life's blessings to you have been given,
May you ever as freely bestow,
Then the sweet peace that comes from true loving
Will be yours, my dear Sister, to know.


The red rose, you have chosen your emblem,
Ever silently whispers to you;
In your work, be more fervent in charity,
And to your obligtion be true.


Thus, my Sisters, be faithful and never
For one moment forget that the vow
You have taken at this sacred altar
Holds as firm in the future as now.


May the beauty and strength of our Order
Be enhanced by your labors of love,
And each day be a day of progression,
Until called to the Chapter above.

November 1901, H. E. C. B.

[This song was not in the first edition of A Song Service, and was untitled, except noted as "Hymn" in the table of contents. I added a distinctive title for this website. okl.]

17. Bright Eastern Star

"Written at the request of Mrs. Jennie C. Newell, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Chapter of Michigan."
Sung to the music of "The Holy City."

Outside the lodge-room waiting, a sound broke on my ear,
I heard sweet voices singing, in accents soft and clear.
They sang in loving kindness, of charity's sweet call,
Of true fraternal friendship, and God's love over all.
Of true fraternal friendship, and God's love over all.

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
'Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

I entered through the doorway, a change now met me there.
The singer's voice was silent, I heard a voice in prayer.
And in the sweet petition there made to God above,
They plead the gift of charity, the blessing of His love.
They plead the gift of charity, the blessing of His love.

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

Then at the alter humbly knelt, the solemn vow was made.
To be true, faithful ever, true to myself and God.
And in that consecrated hour, New light shone o'er my way,
Light from the "Star of Bethlehem," the light of perfect day.
I knew henceforth my way would be (though numbered 'mid the least)
Among the favored ones who, too, had seen the "Star in the East."
Among the favored ones who, too, had seen the "Star in the East."

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

Lansing, Mich., October 7, 1904
Helen E. C. Balmer

This poem was written in 1901 and dedicated to the membership of the Eastern Star. It is reprinted from the Memoriam notice of her death. The title was not recorded, so I've added that. okl.

Storms of Life

What shall I wish for thee, Sister or Brother,
That the coming years may bring?
What gifts shall I ask of the future,
To drop thee from Times's broad wing?

Shall I ask that life may be peaceful ó
Full of sunshine and song and glee;
That thy lifeboat may merrily dance
On the waves of a summer sea?

No, thy boat would never reach harbor,
But for the strong gale's power;
And our hearts grow strong and earnest
In adversity's troubled hour.

So I'll ask for thee when the storms come,
As come to all they will;
Thy strength may be found in The Master,
Who can say to the waves, "Be still."

Helen E. Cornell Balmer (1847 - 1943)

[Genealogist Allen Hankosky (although not a Mason) graciously decided to do a little research on Sister Balmer when he found out I was searching for information on her. Then Brother Jim Coleman sent me a copy of the memorial from her funeral. Finally, I've added a little bit from Internet searching as well. okl.]

Helen Cornell was born Feb. 5, 1847, in Porter, Niagara County, New York. She married Richard Balmer in 1878. Richard had also been born in Porter in 1847, and in 1878 served a year as town supervisor (mayor). Some time after 1880, the couple moved to Mt. Pleasant, Mich., where Helen was Worthy Matron of Mt.Pleasant Chapter No. 55 in 1899-1900, following which she served as Worthy Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star for Michigan, 1900-1901. This was the greatest expansion period in the history of that Grand Jurisdiction. In the report of her year, Sister Balmer recorded thirty new chapters which she constituted personally.

The 1867-1967 Centennial book by the Grand Chapter of Michigan said this, "A system for the purpose of instructing the various chapters in the work of the Order was developed at the turn of the century by Sister Helen E.C. Balmer, Past Grand Matron (1900-01) of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The Order was growing so rapidly that she needed help in order to reach all of the chapters for a school of instruction. To accomplish this a deputy system was inaugurated and the several Past Grand Matrons were appointed to conduct schools of instruction in their respective areas."

Following her career as Worthy Grand Matron, she served the General Grand Chapter of the OES as Right Worthy Associate Grand Conductress 1901-04, and Worthy Grand Chaplain 1916-1919. She also held a national office as Supreme Worthy High Priestess of The Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, 1902-1903. She assisted with several institutions, such as serving as an O.E.S. representative on the board of the (Grand Rapids) Michigan Masonic Home for aged or destitute Masons and for Masonsí widows and orphans. She was a member of the Episcopal church and the D.A.R. as well as the Eastern Star and the Grand Rapids unit of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. By 1904, Helen and her husband had moved to Lansing, Mich., where Richard was a clerk at the State Capitol. Richard probably died sometime between 1910 and 1920. Helen was associated with the office of the Auditor General for twenty-two years, retiring at the age of eighty-four. Sister Balmers's life, covering the span of nearly a century, was a well-filled volume. She was a teacher, a writer of poems and prose, as well as a leader and organizer. She loved progress and activity; she was capable, possesed a keen sense of humor, and was an organizer of unusual ability, She was described as one whose spirit influenced the work of others and inspired her successors to greater achievement.

For a few years prior to her death she had been confined to her home on account of illness, cared for her by her friend and companion Martha Mullett. Mrs. Helen E.C. Balmer died at her home in Lansing, MI, April 23, 1943, two months past her 96th birthday.