Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Fanfare for the Common Man

    Article. In March 1943, income taxes were a major issue for the common man. The United States had been at war about fifteen months and government spending soared. The previous year, as other taxes rose, only one in seven taxpayers had managed to save enough from their wages to pay the federal government. Congress had just recently required employers to withhold an employee's estimated ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. The John Church Company published Dett's arrangement of There's a Meetin' Here Tonight in 1921. The composer dedicated the work to the Cecilia Society of Boston, an all-white chorus organized in 1874 under the sponsorship of Harvard University. The same group had premiered Dett'sChariot Jubilee a year earlier.

  • "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.

  • " 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 ...

  • "I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. The choral writing features a dialogue between the upper three voices and the bass. Gilchrist was fond of using contrapuntal devices to enliven his choral writing. At the end of the second verse, "Our source, our centre, and our dwelling place," triplets suddenly emerge in the accompaniment. The voices remain in common time, however, creating a rhythmic tension as the sopranos climb to ...

  • "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    Article. Article. The piece sets a text by George C. Hugg, a compiler of late-nineteenth-century hymnals. Beach's hymn enjoyed great popularity, receiving performances at the First Baptist Church, Boston, in 1893 and, a few years later, in Detroit and Minneapolis. Arthur P. Schmidt published and disseminated Beach's works, serving as an early champion of women composers. Beach also was an energetic promoter of her ...

  • 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]

  • " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Paine deviates from Watts's original poetry, written in 1719, several times. Watts's phrase, "And makes thee young again," appears in Paine's setting as, "And makes thee strong again." The original phrase "He that redeemed my soul from hell" appears as "And he from everlasting death." For his musical setting, Paine chose a version of Watts's text published in the 1853 Unitarian Hymns for ...

  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Semper Paratus

    Article. The work of the U.S. Coast Guard has always included a strong humanitarian emphasis. Orville and Wilbur Wright, for example, were able to engage members of the Coast Guard to assist in their historic first. Years later Orville Wright told this story:

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • "The Jumblies, Op. 68, No. 4" by Arthur Foote

    Article. Foote sets this humorous limerick by Edward Lear (1812-88) "Allegro giocoso." He chooses only the first and fourth stanzas of Lear's five-stanza poem. The music is scored in C minor, with a parenthesized note under the first measure, "preferably in C-sharp." Foote provides a dynamic scheme and articulations to capture the text's humor. "And when the sieve turned round and round, and ev'ry ...

  • " 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.

  • "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the ...

  • "While Shepherds Watched (1889)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick railed against the unschooled output of popular songwriters flooding the market to the exclusion of what he called "true music." In his 1876 paper on popular music reform, he complained about lack of originality in the popular music of the day. "Those who furnish the popular music have not paid, either in money or in mental discipline, the price of true and ...

  • " 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 ...

  • " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text and melody of Dig My Grave were taken from Bahama Songs and Stories by Charles L. Edwards. The opening is appropriately somber, marked Grave, and set for four-part men's voices: "Dig my grave long and narrow! Make my coffin long and strong!" At the tempo change to Andante cantabile, the women sing in parallel sixths while the men sustain an open-fifth ...

  • " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell orchestrated Hosanna for an extraordinary performance in Carnegie Hall by the students of the Third Street Music School Settlement in March 1918. The concert, led by the composer, featured a chorus of eight hundred and an orchestra of two hundred. The highly successful event (for which the stage had to be nearly doubled in size) not only raised a significant amount of ...

  • " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The alto carries the stately melody accompanied by a mournful, falling motive in the two soprano lines on the word "oh." The top-voiced harmonization is creative, and the melodic writing is vocally demanding. The work climaxes on a high, five-part divisi chord at the penultimate statement of the text, "A long way from home." The work ends pp in augmented note values on ...

  • " 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' ...

  • " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    Article. Patty Stair wrote Song for a May Morning in 1914 to address the needs of the burgeoning women's musical clubs that gained popularity during the first part of the twentieth century. The piece begins with a lively duet between the upper two voices. The alto parts join the texture in close imitation of the top voices. A homophonic section follows featuring more adventurous ...

  • " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1915. The text, written by the composer, refers to a variety of flowers shared by lovers in springtime. Heartsease, the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, was most likely the flower that yielded a powerful love potion in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Branscombe's musical ...

  • "The Wind and the Day (A Sunset on Yarrow)" by Arthur Foote

    Article. This part-song, one of fifty-two composed by Foote, was dedicated to Horatio Parker (1863–1919), a fellow member of the Second New England School of composers. It sets a pastoral poem by Scottish writer Andrew Lang, who edited the poems and songs of Robert Burns in 1896. The text and music paint a picture of a sunset over the heather. Foote injects chromatic harmonies ...

  • " Long, Long the Night" by Daniel Gregory Mason

    Article. The first two verses Mason sets using mildly chromatic harmonies with a few seventh and ninth chords. In the third verse, however, he suddenly injects extreme dissonance to capture the pathos of the text, "Hear me, Powers Divine. Oh, in pity hear me. Take all else of mine, but my Chloris spare me!" The chord on "Chloris" contains both an E-natural and an ...