American Patriotic Songs, Page 2


This is a continuation of the July, 2002 Feature, if you missed page one, check the link at the end of this page or use this link..



Music by: Harry Appel
Lyrics by: None, piano only
Cover artist: unknown


As the decade turned, patriotic marches continued to be a mainstay for many of the popular composers of the period. Now was the time when the music of composers like Harry J. Lincoln, E.T. Paull and J.P. Sousa flourished. Plenty of other, less well known composers joined into the fun and though many are largely forgotten, much of their music lives on and deserves to be enjoyed. Harry Appel, about whom little to nothing is known today, composed this fine march and I've found it to be quite nice, on a par with some of the best from the period. Appel dedicated the work to "My Friend, Hugo Bonheim.


Nothing biographical can be found about either Appel or Bonheim. Clearly Appel was a band leader, at least the the cover photo implies he was. He is quite resplendent in his uniform! Appel wrote at least one other published work we've been able to find, Dainty Rosebuds, described as a "Daintette Caprice". Published in 1906 by Seminary Music of New York, it is certainly a complete opposite of this fabulous march.


Listen to and see this 1911 march (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (none)



Lincoln's College Flag


Music by: J. Fred Helf
Lyrics by: Will A. Heelan
Cover artist: De Takacs

With one of the most beautiful covers in the lot this month, here we have a work by a better known composer that harkens back to the Civil War to draw its lyrical story. The lyrics tell the story of a grizzled old Confederate soldier who, having enjoyed the "college games" tells the gathered throng after their cheers for their college banners that there is yet one more flag to cheer for. Having fought for the Confederacy and suffered defeat, that flag of course is none but the stars and stripes.


A nice song about unity almost fifty years after the war, this theme is found in many of the popular patriotic songs of the period. Clearly, the Civil War still lingered in the minds of many people back then and songs were used as a way to heal old wounds. As long as there are veterans of a war, we will find memory of those conflicts alive and the pain still strong for those who fought for our freedoms. This song demonstrates the duality of music as it relates to patriotic issues. Just as music is used to stir patriotism and inspire support for war, songs were, and still are, also a way to deal with the pain of war and to heal the wounds that exist during and long after the war is over.



J. Fred Helf was a popular composer during the first two decades of the twentieth century who, like many other successful composers, formed his own publishing company. His company did quite well for several years and published for a number of popular songwriters as well as for his own works. Helf's firm's demise shows the fragility of many of the businesses of that period. In 1910 Helf published Play That Barbershop Chord, by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, or at least that is how Helf published it. Songwriter Ballard MacDonald had begun work on the song and had written dummy lyrics before leaving the song behind. The piece was finished by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, and MacDonald was incensed that Helf left his name off the sheet music. He sued Helf successfully, and the award of $37,500 forced Helf into bankruptcy thus ending his foray into publishing.

Helf 's other works include; Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon (1900, also with Heelan); Texas Tommy's Dance (1911); The Fatal Rose of Red (1900) and perhaps his greatest title, If Money Talks, It Ain't On Speaking Terms With Me ( 1902).


Hear and see this song(SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version




American Patrol

1914 (original 1885)

Music by: F.W. Meacham
Lyrics by: None, piano solo
Cover artist:


I always wondered why a song by Glenn Miller was named American Patrol; did any of you wonder the same? Of course I always enjoyed the Miller recording and never bothered to research the origins of the song. I just assumed it was a wartime title for a really nice jitterbug tune. Never did I ever suspect that the Miller version came from a wonderful military work dating all the way back to 1885! The song has a long history of recording and has been popular for well over 100 years. The first recording was a 2-minute Edison cylinder in 1903 and it retained popularity during both World Wars. The song enjoyed recording as well as piano roll versions and was continuously reissued over a period of almost 80 years. The version by Glenn Miller and his orchestra is clearly the most significant recording.


As written, the work had no lyrics, but was a very clever and innovative march breaking somewhat clear of some of the standard construction constraints. In 1942, a song was published which used the theme from this work and did add lyrics. That version was We Must Be Vigilant by Edgar Leslie and should not be considered the same. Meacham uses a technique later fully exploited by ET Paull in his "descriptive" marches where there are comments in the score to describe what images the music intends to convey. Since Meacham's work predates most of Paull's music, it's quite possible that this work inspired Paull's later successes. At the beginning, the music is pppp which conveys the "patrol" in the far distance. As the patrol nears, the music gets louder until the patrol passes and the music is fff. Then, the music gradually diminishes as the patrol passes into the distance. Meacham added simple comments such as; "Patrol gradually approaches," "Patrol passing" to the score. Make sure you get the Scorch player so you can follow the score and see the descriptions as the music plays. The work also says it "introduces" another popular tune, The Red White And Blue which has also stood alone as a memorable patriotic tune, more commonly known as Columbia, The Gem of The Ocean, a long time favorite written in 1843. That song has been somewhat controversial in that not only do two composers claim authorship; David T. Shaw and Thomas Beckett but its melody has been claimed to have originated from a British song, Britannia, Pride of the Ocean. However, research has failed to find any British version printed before 1852.


F.W. Meacham was born around 1850 in Buffalo New York and his death occurred sometime after 1895. Meacham often worked as arranger rather than composer, for Victor Herbert musicals and Stephen Foster songs. Meacham's primary fame came with American Patrol but he composed other works, among them There Is No Place Like New York After All in 1895 and obviously many, many other works as American Patrol carries Opus number 92.


Listen to and see this great work(scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)



Pride Of The White House


Music by: Karl Lenox
Lyrics by: None, piano only
Cover artist: unknown

Patriotic music not only focused on our flag and military but often it also honored our institutions. What greater symbol of American Democracy than the White House. This 1916 march, written as the dark clouds of war dimmed Europe and foretold of America's military involvement is a wonderfully upbeat march that salutes the seat of American political power.

Interestingly, as a march, there are no lyrics so one has to use their imagination as to any political messages such a song brings to the fore. It is likely that the composer had some admiration for the president at the time.


Thomas Woodrow Wilson was our President from 1913 to 1921, a difficult period. Try as he might, he could not ultimately keep us from involvement in the first world war. Like Roosevelt before him, Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. "No one but the President," he said, "seems to be expected ... to look out for the general interests of the country." He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for democracy." Wilson was an admired president at the time and no doubt was deserving of this indirect musical tribute.


History has been less kind to Karl Lenox. At one time, as evidenced by this sheet, he had his own publishing company in Boston, with an office in New York however little else can be found about him.


Hear this great old march(scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (none)


My Soldier Boy


Music by: Lester Brockton
Lyrics by: Brockton
Cover artist: unknown


By 1917, the prospects of war were consuming America's passions and thoughts. Art and music, as a reflection of society also became obsessed with military images and patriotic themes. The interest in patriotism also continued to be reflected by stage productions and many fine songs came into publication as a result. This work, with a fabulous cover image, expresses the sentiments of American support for our troops and the war effort. For a thorough review of music during the First World War, see our three part series of articles about W.W.I music on our "In search of" listings.


Brockton uses a clever opening with motifs from old favorite tunes. He begins with just a few notes of Tramp, Tramp Tramp in the introduction then after a short transition, quotes the melody of Yankee Doodle (MIDI), then a quick, almost hidden passage from Dixie (MIDI) leads us into Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean. After all this plagiarism, we move into a wonderful march style chorus that is as original as can be. Full of fun and easy to recall melodies, this song is a joy to listen to and sing! The full stage production must have been wonderful.


Lester Brockton was actually a pseudonym for Mayhew Lester Lake (1879 - 1955) who was an arranger and composer of band music. Lake was born in Southville Massachusetts in 1879.


Hear this great patriotic stage song

Listen to MIDI version



Thank God, I Am An American


Music by: Rollin C. Ward
Lyrics by: Ward
Cover artist: unknown

Hidden behind a plain brown wrapper, we find a gem of a song from the time when America began it's entry into the war. Touted on the cover as" "Immortal words of Daniel Webster" we find a song that is stirring and turns us to our strength as a nation and our desire and ability to crush the foe and "Make safe the world for democracy." It is a fairly simple and short tune but is entertaining and has a nice melody. But what of those words of Daniel Webster? What exactly did he say and when did he say it?


What Webster actually said at the occasion of the dedication of the monument at Bunker Hill on 17 June of 1843, was: "Thank God, I--I also--am an American!." Webster also gave a speech when the construction of the monument was begun in 1825. He returned 18 years later to dedicate the monument at it's completion. Always a stirring orator, Webster had a way with words and was one of America's most respected politicians. He is one of the most quoted orators of the past century and was the consummate patriot.


Rollin C. Ward is another of the regional composers and publishers who seem to have been lost. I can find absolutely no reference to him or his publishing house beyond this wonderful patriotic song.

Enjoy this rare old song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version



We Are All Americans


Music by: Carrie Jacobs-Bond
Lyrics by: Fanny Hodges Newman
Cover artist: unknown, probably Bond

Carrie Jacobs-Bond has always found a way to speak to the heart for most who hear her music. In this wonderful song from the war, Bond has musically framed a sentiment that applied then and applies to all of us today who are trying to cope with terrorism, racism and hatred between peoples. Originally written to show solidarity with our allies during the war, Newman's words and Bonds music resonate with truth in any time of crisis for our country. A simple song, like many of Bond's works, the melody and message are upbeat and bring hope. Though much of the lyric is a little naïve, those times were naïve and the first world war began a period of change where naïveté and innocence seemed to be lost and a new reality came upon us. Most certainly, it began a period of incredible change that has continued to today.


Patriotism was at its peak at this time in our history and though the second world war saw a rebirth and patriotic fervor that rivaled that of this era, American patriotism has waned and it has only been with the recent attacks that we have seen a resurgence. We have all been too concerned with ourselves, personal gain, personal success and our own lives to realize that each individuals future is tied to the future of us all. The greater good of the society should come before that of the individual and if it does, we all prosper.


Carrie Jacobs-Bond was America's first million selling woman composer and wrote many hit songs during the early twentieth century. Her life is an inspiration of success in the face of adversity. Her life story is well worth reading. In June of 2000, we featured her music and presented a special in depth biography of her.

Enjoy this vintage war song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version



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