Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • " Centennial Hymn, Op. 27" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Centennial Hymn is a setting of John Greenleaf Whittier's six-verse poem of the same name. The musical material is strophic, the text setting is syllabic, and the length is a mere twenty-four bars of choral singing. A trumpet fanfare introduces the hymn, and an optional orchestral interlude is situated between the verses. Paine marks each of the initial four-bar phrases and the final ...

  • The Dissemination of "Amazing Grace"

    Article. Article. NOTES:1. Hymns were (and still are) known by two titles: one, the first line of their texts and two, the name of the hymn tune to which the text is sung. Hence, one tune serve for a number of texts. [back to text] 2. Amazing Grace (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 114. [back to text] 3. Ibid. 126. [back to text]

  • "Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. R. Nathaniel Dett dedicated Don't Be Weary, Traveler to philanthropist and arts patron George Foster Peabody. It was published by the John Church Company, "The House Devoted to the Progress of American Music." The publisher included it in a series titled "Negro Spirituals. Folk Songs of the South, Adaptations of Original Melodies by R. Nathaniel Dett." The publication was issued in 1921, just ...

  • " Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SATB version of Burleigh's solo setting was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956). The piano accompaniment uses a repetitive, falling-chord figure throughout to create the "swing low" aural imagery. Page departs from the usual homophonic, chordal texture to introduce a brief imitation between the soprano and tenor on the second phrase of the spiritual. At the end of the opening refrain, Burleigh ...

  • "Elfin Song (1910)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. After a wild fairy dance round the witch hazel tree, the appearance of a beetle causes a key change and a buzzing, 16th-note figure in the accompaniment. Next, the leaf harp sings accompanied by rapid arpeggios. The opening music returns and the fairy figures "skip and gambol merrily" to a pp conclusion.

  • This is My Country

    Article. The co-authors of "This Is My Country" passed away within a month of each other. Raye died in Encino, California on January 29, 1985. Al Jacobs passed away on February 13, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland. Their song "This is My Country" is played nightly during the finale of the Disneyland and Disney World fireworks spectacular.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Barcarole, Op. 44" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. This work is unique among MacDowell's choral works for its lush vocal richness and coloristic four-hand piano display. Frequent hemiolas, grace notes, trills, and triplet patterns in the piano partner with a lyric melodic breadth and sensitive harmonic progressions in the voices. The poem is by F. M. von Bodenstedt (1819-1892), a well-known German writer whose texts were also set by Brahms, Grieg, ...

  • " Cradle Song" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. The text is by MacDowell after a German poem by Peter Cornelius (1824-1874). A lullaby, this brief work is representative of a quintessential American male glee club song: a cappella, homophonic, closely voiced, regular phrases, heartfelt, and tender. Chromatic motion often occurs against pedal tones. Interest is found more in the overall harmonic effect than in the melody. MacDowell dedicated the work to ...

  • " Southern Lullaby" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The unaccompanied work opens with the chorus providing a homophonic, hummed accompaniment to the solo soprano melody, "De night am long an' de col' win' roar, Yo' Pappy he doan come hom no mo', sleep li'l' chile, go sleep." Burleigh uses seventh chords and a greater degree of chromaticism than that found in his spiritual settings, e.g., at "An' do he hear yo' ...

  • Band Stocks

    Article. Article. African-American Band Music and Recordings, 1883-1923, provides instrumental parts for a representative sampling of the enormous body of published stock arrangements. The 1920s marked the beginning of the great era of popular song and of stock arrangement publishing. However, works published in 1923 and beyond remain under copyright protection. The public domain publications included here provide a valuable foundation for appreciating the ...

  • " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    Article. Stair sets the text in a chordal style with the melody nearly always in the first tenor voice. It is in three verses—each verse more developed harmonically—and a coda that recalls the final words of each verse: "so white, so soft, so sweet is she." Though it is set with close voicing, Stair avoids any use of "barbershop harmonies," opting instead for sonorities ...

  • Stars and Stripes Forever

    Article. The "Flute in C" with silver keys and ferrules was used for 11 years by Mr. Louis P. Fritze, a member of the Sousa Band. He played it in the Band's 1910 around-the-world tour. It has been repaired by a broad silver band at the socket of the head-joint and had mother-of-pearl set in the "stopper."

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Christ is Risen" by Victor Herbert

    Article. Herbert gained fame primarily through his forty-three operettas. His output, however, also included numerous works for orchestra, band, various instruments, and some twelve choral pieces. He wrote a large-scale cantata, The Captive, op. 25, for the 1891 Worcester (Massachusetts) Festival. His extended anthem for soloists and chorus, Christ is Risen, was premiered at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, in 1908. A year ...

  • This Land is Your Land

    Article. Nobody living can ever stop me As I go walking my Freedom Highway Nobody living can make me turn back This land was made for you and me.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1914) and refers to a mythical utopian place, a pastoral vision in which all is in harmony with nature. The poem begins, "In Arcady by moonlight (where only lovers go), there is a pool where fairest of ...

  • " Pretty to Me" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Pretty to Me is lyrical, gentle, soft, and sentimental. Its melody is limited to an octave and consists of four verses. The melody for the second two stanzas of the verse nearly mirrors that of the first two stanzas. Each verse is followed by a homophonic choral refrain on the words "pretty to me."

  • Columbia the Gem of the Ocean

    Article. Sheet music from both 1843 and 1846 credited the American title as "Columbia, the Land of the Brave." Yet between these two dates, in 1844, the song was also published under the title it subsequently retained, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean." Extremely popular during Abraham Lincoln's Civil War administration, the song became a standard tune in the U.S. Marine Corps Band's repertoire.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Minuet" by Patty Stair

    Article. In the opening A section, written in G major, the stage is set as Grand-aunt plays the spinet, "Thin and worn [is] the spinet's tone." The B section, in C major, takes the listener to bygone days of "ruffled lace" and handsome "Beaux with sabres hanging by their sides." The repeat of the A section marks a return to the parlor and the ...

  • The Army Goes Rolling Along

    Article. Refrain: Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!The Army's on its way.Count off the cadence loud and strong,For where e'er we go,You will always knowThat The Army Goes Rolling Along.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • God Bless America

    Article. Irving Berlin lived a long life, one hundred and one years, and built a catalog of over 1,000 songs. His first published song was "Marie from Sunny Italy" (1907) and his first major hit was "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911). He also wrote for Broadway and the movies. Among his most recognized songs are "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Mandy," "White Christmas," ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum, Op. 8" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum was published in 1915 by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, featuring a piano reduction of the orchestral score by Paine's student, Arthur Foote.

  • The Sea

    Article. MacDowell's Eight Songs, op. 47, come from his last period of song composition. Written in 1893 while living in Boston, these songs were penned when MacDowell was at the height of his fame as a composer. The second to last song in the set, "The Sea," is perhaps one of MacDowell's finest songs. Set to a text by William Dean Howells, "The Sea" ...

  • "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, op. 14" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. While he lived in New York, Parker developed many relationships with fellow musicians that led to frequent performances of his compositions. One of these relationships was with Frank Van der Stucken, the conductor of the New York Arion Society male chorus. Van der Stucken's choir performed many of Parker's works for male chorus, and may have taken his part-song Blow, Blow, Thou Winter ...

  • Yankee Doodle

    Article. Of humble origin and perhaps questionable in matters of lyrical "taste," "Yankee Doodle" has survived as one of America's most upbeat and humorous national airs. In the fife and drum state of Connecticut, it is the official state song. George M. Cohan revived the tune in his "Yankee Doodle Boy" (also known as "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy") of 1904. It should surprise ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The American Art Song: An Introduction

    Article. Article. Although a full account of the American art song is beyond the scope of this introduction, it is hoped that these highlights will serve as an invitation to further explore and appreciate America's song tradition. The American art song, in its relatively brief two-hundred-year-old journey, has not yet traveled very far but it has certainly traveled wide: from the Psalm settings and ...