Sunday In The Parlor
Sacred Songs for the Home
We've spent over five years now presenting a multitude of Tin
Pan Alley's wares for the home parlor piano. We've explored many different themes
and styles and presented almost 1,000 secular songs for your enjoyment. This
month, we want to look at the sacred side of parlor music and share with you
a few of the many inspirational sacred songs from the turn of the 20th century
that undoubtedly graced many a home. Though we have presented a few sacred songs
in some of our other features (we'll include a list with links on page two of
this feature), we really have not explored this aspect of parlor music from
the Tin Pan Alley era.
As we pointed out in our essay about the earliest
American music, most early American music was sacred or liturgical. The
settlers brought their hymnals and song books from their homelands to America,
and sang praises to their God in thanks for their good fortune. It was only
later that America began to develop its own styles and kinds of music beyond
the sacred. As such, sacred music and religion has always played an important
part in American life. Home and family values were important and often the family
would gather 'round the piano in the music parlor to sing praises to God. Sundays
in the parlor were often reserved for singing the old favorites and some new
ones too. Since this country was founded on the concept of freedom of religion,
the market for sacred songs was brisk and many a composer made a good living
by composing sacred songs. I've enjoyed producing this feature. Many of the
songs are well known, some may be completely new to you. As our gift to you,
all scorch versions this month can be printed so you can enjoy the music in
your own home if you play the piano. After all, I've no doubt that the inspiration
for these songs came straight from God and as such, must consider them God's
gift to all of us and certainly deserving of free distribution. You'll also
find that this feature is rather devoid of fancy covers. Except for two or three,
most are rather plain proving that sometimes great treasures come in simple
If any of you have songs you'd like to contribute to future issues
we'd love to consider your submission for publication. The "rules"
for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any
of our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission"
or "favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help
us out and write a feature for us!
Come with us now as we revisit the wonderful music of America's faith. Go back
to a time when freedom of religion was unfettered by liberal exclusions and
the pressure of groups who want the only freedom of religion to be none. As
always, this issue is on two separate pages so don't miss page
two of this issue.
Music by: Herbert Johnson
Lyrics by: from the Catholic Liturgy
Cover artist: unsigned
Trying to decide which song to present first was difficult but this one
seemed to be a good beginning. The traditional Catholic prayer to Mary,
Mother Of Jesus, seemed an appropriate beginning. A popular text, the
Ave Maria has been set to music in a number of ways by many of the world's
greatest composers. We featured a version by Gounod in our Classics
in the Parlor feature in December of 2001. Many songs by this title
have been written, using differing texts but all are intended for one
purpose; to sing the praises of the Mother of Christianity. This setting
uses the majority of full Latin text of the "Hail Mary" and
we've included the full Latin and English texts of the prayer in our lyrics
box (see the link below) for you to compare to Johnson's setting. He managed
to capture the majority of the text.
Johnson's setting for the song is perhaps one of the most familiar to
many people and is a beautiful flowing piece that expresses the peace
and passion of and for Mary. Using a continuing flow of triplet based
arpeggios in the left hand and a beautiful melody in the right hand with
simple harmonies, Johnson created one of the masterpieces of modern sacred
music when he wrote this work. A middle section that brings feeling of
mystery and awe beaks the flow and provides a prelude to a triumphant
return to the original theme. On hearing it, one cannot deny the feeling
of power and strength of faith that can be communicated through music.
Herbert Johnson (1857 - 1904) Ave Maria may have
been one of the last songs written by Johnson for he died the year after
its publication. We know that he wrote many other hymns and sacred songs,
many of which are stunning such as Ave Maria and Face To Face
(also in this feature) yet very little seems to have been retained about
his entire output and life. There also appears to be some evidence of
a few secular songs by Johnson although a catalog of his output seems
to be lacking.
Hear this great sacred
Printable sheet music (scorch format only)
listen to MIDI version
Music by: Louis Weber
Lyrics by: none, piano solo
Cover artist: unsigned
Of course, the old testament was a rich source of inspiration for music
and here we see a work based on King David as well as a number of other
biblical moments. In this case, rather than a hymn or song, we have an
example of a common musical piece from the period called a meditation.
Though no lyrics are included, Weber has annotated all of the main themes
with commentary or biblical quotes to share with us his source for inspiration
and interpretation of the music. It works quite well and I can imagine
a family listening to this work and contemplating the commentary provided
by Weber and the musical meanings as it relates to his references.
The first section is titled; "The King's song of praise" and
is meant to convey an image of King David, playing his harp in praise
of the Lord. Weber uses arpeggiated chords to convey the sound of a harp
and a nice melody (reminiscent of Star
of The East, scorch format) that manages to hold your
attention in spite of the ennui that a long passage of arpeggiated chords
can sometimes induce. The second section; "rejoice and be glad"
moves the melody to the left hand accompanied by repeating triplet chords,
a common musical contrivance in the early 1900's. A change of key also
helps change the mood. A return to the home key and the next passage is
"The Heavens Declare Thy Glory" and Weber weaves a melody with
repeated chords that could symbolize the trumpets of Heaven announcing
God's glory that leads to the darkest passage within this work but the
one I consider most beautiful and passionate. "Though I walk through
the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil" in an andante
6/8 time with a doleful bass clef melody accompanied by arpeggios conveys
a fearful yet triumphant passage to the next delightful tune "I shall
dwell in the house of the Lord," a lighthearted tune complete with
chirping birds brings us to the end of Weber's piece. Hopefully, you are
using the Scorch player to view our scorch versions of these songs, otherwise,
you're missing the ability to see the commentary and musical craftsmanship
that these composers have passed on to us.
Sadly, I'm unable to find any information about the talented composer
of this work, Louis Weber or the Weber Brothers Publishing House
in Kansas City. Perhaps a kind reader from that area can provide us with
some information. If so, we'll be happy to add it to this article.
this Biblically inspired meditation
Printable sheet music (scorch format)
listen to MIDI version
Lyrics (Sorry, no lyrics with this
Music by: Stephen Adams
Lyrics by: F.E. Weatherly
Cover artist: unknown
This work has become a staple in many a modern church and is one that
simply screams out its message in the chorus. One aspect of every song
in this month's feature is their compositional nature. Almost all songs
we see in the popular song style are in what is called the strophic form.
That is, repeated verses and the chorus are sung to repeats of the original
melody. All of these sacred songs have been written down in a through
composed form, that is, there are no repeats, the music and lyrics continue
straight through from beginning to end. And though the composers have
in almost all cases, provided what appears to be a verse-chorus construct,
through composition allows for subtleties in variation of the original
theme. Try to notice that as we progress through this month's songs. This
can be very effective in conveying differing moods for each "verse"
as you may see in the beautiful In The Garden on the second page.
Adams has provided us with a beautiful flow for this song and the through
composed nature makes it appear a lot longer on paper than if it were
strophic n design. Regardless, the song is one of the greatest hymns of
inspiration ever written and is a favorite of choirs in many different
Frederic Edward Weatherly (1848-1929), was a songwriter and in
his later years, a radio entertainer. Born in Portishead, Somersetshire
in England he studied law at Braesnose College and was a barrister of
the Inner Temple in 1887. Weatherly also wrote a number of books including
children's books and several quite serious titles including Questions
in Logic, Progressive and General; The Rudiments of Logic, Inductive
and Deductive and Musical and Dramatic Copyright. He also
was a prolific poet, which was the source of his song lyric talent as
Weatherly wrote hundreds of songs among them few if any that have survived
the decades since like Danny Boy has. Among his "lost works"
are; In Sweet September, The Deathless Army, The
Midshipmate and Polly. He also wrote other works that have
survived the ages and are still well known including London Bridge,
and When We Were Old and Gray. Little noticed today, Weatherly
ranks at the top of the list of 19th and early twentieth century songwriters
in terms of output having produced thousands of songs.
According to Michael R. Turner and Antony Miall in The Edwardian
Song-Book: Drawing-Room Ballads 1900-1914, Methuen, London, 1982
The most prolific poet of the Edwardianand for
that matter Victorian and Georgianballad, the genial and indefatigable
Fred E. (Frederick Edward) Weatherly (1848-1929) was virtually a one-man
song factory. Seven of his lyrics appear in this book, but he wrote
thousands, of which at least fifteen hundred were published, with music
by dozens of composers who vied to get their hands on his verses.
law was as much a love as poetry, and he studied and was called to the
Bar at the age of thirty-nine, thereafter enjoying a comfortable career
on the Western Circuit, often appearing in criminal cases, almost invariably
for the defence. According to his own account, in court he was remarkably
keen-witted and effective. Songs poured from him, he translated opera
(including Cav. and Pag.) and he published quantities of verse and children's
books. He revelled in his considerable celebrity. A little man physically,
he had, as a friend put it, 'a blithe and tender soul'. He may have
been self-satisfied but he was much loved and was certainly no fool,
cheerfully dismissing his facility as a lyricist as no safe ticket to
Parnassus. His most commercially successful ballad was 'Roses of Picardy'
which became one of the great popular songs of the Great War, and it
made its writer a small fortune.
According to his Brasenose biography, Weatherly came to Brasenose College
in Oxford, England from Hereford Cathedral School in 1867, and was awarded
a B.A. in Classics in 1871. In 1868 he achieved a certain fame on, or
in, the river. The Brasenose IV had practised for Henley Regatta without
a cox; on being informed that they must carry one they decided to do so,
but for him to jump overboard immediately after the beginning of the race.
Weatherly volunteered to take the dive and the crew went on to win the
race; although subsequently disqualified, they had established a precedent
from which the Coxswainless Fours were to develop.
Weatherly earned his living first as a coach in Oxford and subsequently
at the Bar, but he is best known as a songwriter.(Information
about Weatherly's Brasenose association courtesy Brasenose
One of the difficulties in finding biographical information on composers
or songwriters is the common use of pseudonyms. I was about to give up
on Adams when I discovered an entry that indicated Stephen Adams was actually:
Michael Maybrick, (1844 - 1913) born in Liverpool, England in
1844. He completed his music studies there and moved to Leipzig and Milan
to study further. He became a well known baritone singer. His first appearance
was in the New Philharmonic Concerts in London in 1870. His songs were
popular in both England and America. ( Above from the
Our Lady Of Fatima
Parish Website where you can hear a beautiful recording of the hymn)
There is a rather bizarre theory abroad that Maybrick's brother, James
may have been the elusive "Jack The Ripper." Very few of Maybrick's
songs ever reached the lasting level of popularity of The Holy City
but a few do survive. Among them are To The Front, The Star Of Bethlehem,
The Midship Mite and Mona.
Listen to and see this
beautiful song Printable
score (scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
Heard The Holy City
Music by: Ernie Erdman
Words by: Roger Lewis
Cover artist: M. Baer
I debated whether to include this song in this month's feature as it
is right on the fence between secular and sacred. Tied directly to The
Holy City (above) the song even nearly copies the chorus melody but
seems to cleverly avoid an outright copyright infringement. In a sincere
form of complement, the composer has drafted a song based upon the love
for the melody of The Holy City and it works well. The cover
is one of only two reasonably interesting covers this month and has a
definite religious theme to it.
Erdman and Lewis even manage to start the song off with the same line
as The Holy City; "last night as I lay dreaming" but
then moves to what appears to be a song about a sweetheart as he speaks
to "The song you oft-times sang." Then we are transported back
to focus on the hymn with the words, "It was 'The Ho-ly Cit-y' It
thrilled me through and through.". Then, with the chorus, we hear
an almost exact phrase from the original song; ""Je-ru-sa-lem,
Je-ru-sa-lem," Rang so soft and low" then we drift back to the
sweetheart with "My heart was glad For you were near, The same as
long a-go." Erdman and Lewis pull us back and forth like that for
the entire song and so we end up with a song that is a creative hybrid
of a sacred and secular song. The true secular nature comes through somewhat
in that this song is not through composed like all the rest. It is strophic
with multiple verses and repeats of the chorus. Still, I find it to be
a pleasant song and one that could easily fit into a musical Sunday in
Ernie Erdman wrote a large number of popular hits in the early
20th century, many of them with lyricists Roger Lewis and Gus Kahn. Among
his greatest hits are The Hours I spent With Thee, (1915) with
Roger Lewis , Tee Pee Blues,
(MIDI) 1922, That Peculiar Rag, (1910) lyrics F.M. Fagan, , Toot-Toot-Tootsie
(Goo'bye) (Scorch format) (1922) with Gus Kahn and
Nobody's Sweetheart in 1923, also with Gus Kahn.
Hear this old song
(scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
Me, Thou Life and Delight of My Soul
Music by: Felix Mendelssohn
Lyrics by: Thomas Hastings
Cover artist: unknown
Some of the world's greatest composers have written sacred music and
of course many, like Bach and Handel, built their entire life around serving
the Lord through music. Felix Mendelssohn, one of classical music's greatest
composers wrote many songs and piano works specifically for sacred purposes.
The music for this song was arranged by E.S. Hosmer from Mendelssohns,
Op 53, No. 4, one of his many Lieder ohne Wort, songs without words.
Mendelssohn wrote eight books of songs without words between 1825 and
showed that the spirit of song could exist without words
to show the meaning. In fact, the pieces are a kind of personal diary
for the composer, expressing feelings he thought were impossible to put
into words in any case. (Fromartsworld.com)
Hosmer took Mendelssohn's song four from Op. 53 and added words by Thomas
Hastings (1605 - 1685), an early American settler, church Deacon, poet
and hymn writer in Watertown Mass. Among Hastings' number of lasting hymns
including Rock of Ages. Mendelssohn's (or should I say, Hosmer's arrangement
of ) work is somewhat bleak, with a persistent bass line that carries
the melody through the piece. Hosmer's arrangement is quite accurate to
the original. I've a 1982 recording of the piece played by Edmund Batterby.
In that recording Battersby seems to play a little faster than an Adagio
tempo as the piece is marked and it really sounded much better than my
original, rather slow rendition so I've upped the tempo some and it goes
quite well. The original piece was titled, Evening Song so that
explains the rather dark character of the piece. Not necessarily a favorite
of mine from this month's feature, this hymn is clearly a classical piece
that has been modified for home or church use. The work is expressive
and melodic and perhaps would have been best left as Mendelssohn intended;
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (born Hamburg, 3 February 1809; died Leipzig, 4
November 1847). Born into a prominent family in Berlin, he grew up in
a privileged environment (the family converted from Judaism to Christianity
in 1816, taking the additional name 'Bartholdy'). He studied the piano
with Ludwig Berger and theory and composition with Zelter, producing his
first piece in 1820; thereafter, a profusion of sonatas, concertos, string
symphonies, and piano quartets revealed his increasing mastery of counterpoint
A period of travel and concert-giving introduced Mendelssohn to England,
Scotland (1829) and Italy (1830-31); after return visits to Paris (1831)
and London (1832, 1833) he took up a conducting post at Düsseldorf
(1833-5), concentrating on Handel's oratorios. During this period he composed
a number of excellent works that reflected the influence of his travels.
With its emphasis on clarity and adherence to classical ideals, Mendelssohn's
music shows alike the influences of Bach (fugal technique), Handel (rhythms,
harmonic progressions), Mozart (dramatic characterization, forms, textures)
and Beethoven (instrumental technique), though from 1825 he developed
a characteristic style of his own.
Mendelssohn found inspiration in art, nature and history for his orchestral
music. The energy, clarity and tunefulness of the Italian have
made it his most popular symphony. In his best overtures, essentially
one-movement symphonic poems, the sea appears as a recurring image, from
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and The Hebrides to The
Lovely Melusine. Less dependent on programmatic elements and at the same
time formally innovatory, the concertos, notably that for violin, and
the chamber music, especially some of the string quartets, the Octet and
the two late piano trios, beautifully reconcile classical principles with
personal feeling; these are among his most striking compositions. Of the
solo instrumental works, the partly lyric, partly virtuoso Lieder
ohne Worte for piano are elegantly written and often touching.
this great Mendelssohn classic
Printable sheet music (scorch format)
Listen to MIDI version
Sands Of Time Are Sinking
Music by: Charles Gounod
Lyrics by: Mrs Cousins
Cover artist: unsigned
Initially my least favorite song of this month's selections, I'm afraid
this one is becoming an acquired taste and may soon be a favorite. My
first impression was that this work did not seem to measure up to my own
level of expectation for a work by Gounod. It seemed rather simple and
even superficial. As I've listened to it I've grown to appreciate that
often, less is more and Gounod has provided an interesting tune that would
play well in the home or church. Unfortunately, the sheet music I have
has no publication date but appears to have been published either around
the time of Gounod's death, or not long afterward.
The "Mrs. Cousin" listed as the writer of the words was Ann
Ross Cousin (1824-1906 ) born Ann Ross Cundell in Yorkshire England,
"a gifted nineteenth-century writer of many hymns and poems of great
beauty. Her most popular work has been this hymn, which first appeared
in 1857 in the Christian Treasury." (Quotefrom
"Hymn Stories, No. 93) Interestingly, this text has been
used in a number of different musical setting. The original 1857 music
was written by Chretien D'Urhan, (1790-1845) so it seems that this hymn
never really had a marriage of words and music that were actually designed
specifically for the words. Rather, over time, music by different composers
was used to complement Mrs.. Cousin's poem. Cousin write several other
hymns including, King Eternal, King Immortal, O Christ, What Burdens
Bowed Thy Head, To Thee and to Thy Christ, O God, To Thy Father and Thy
Mother, and When We Reach Our Peaceful Dwelling.
From all this, we can conclude that Gounod's music was written for some
other purpose and later arranged for this text by an uncredited arranger
in this version. I'm not sure what the original setting for this music
was. Perhaps an alert student of Gounod's music can identify the tune
and its origin and let us know.
François Gounod ( b. Paris, 1818 - d. Paris, 1893) was the
son of a talented painter who had won some acclaim but died when Gounod
was four. Gounod's mother was a pianist who gave young Charles his early
musical education. He learned classical studies at the Lycée St.
Louis and studied music under Anton Reicha when in 1836 he entered the
prestigious Paris Conservatoire. There he received instruction from some
of the greatest musicians of the times. Gounod won the coveted Prix de
Rome three years later. In 1839, he traveled to Rome where he was deeply
impressed by the polyphonic music he heard sung in the Sistine Chapel..
He then began a serious study of 16th century sacred music. It was in
the area of liturgical music that Gounod excelled throughout his life.
Arguably, his greatest work is the Messe solennelle de Saint Cècile,
first performed in 1855. Considered a masterpiece, it established his
successful style of ornate and elaborate work that was in contrast to
his earlier, more austere work.
In 1842 he traveled to Vienna and then on to Berlin where he was exposed
to the music of the area and also received a commission to compose two
masses. His experience there made him unique among French composers in
that he had a deep knowledge of music, past and present that went beyond
the current French traditions and operatic style. Gounod returned to Paris
in 1843 to accept his first position as organist at the Missions Etrangères
and soon was at odds with a congregation who disliked his steady diet
of Bach and 16th century music. Gounod seemed to understand that opera
was a key to success for a French composer. As such, he turned to composing
opera and his first, Sapho premièred in 1851. Unfortunately,
in spite of compliments from renowned composers such as Berlioz, it was
a failure. He followed Sapho with several other works that fared
Thereafter followed a period of opera production where Gounod met with
much better success than he had earlier. Gounod produced Le Medecin
malgré lui in 1858 and then Philémon in 1860.
These successes, combined with Faust in 1859, earned Gounod a
place as perhaps the most acclaimed composer in France. Like Mascagni
(see Ave Maria on page one of this feature) Gounod was to spend
the rest of his life in pursuit of an opera as well received as Faust
. Though he produced many more, none enjoyed the popularity of Faust
In the last years of his life, Gounod returned to religious music. He
became very successful in England and as such, he had a strong influence
on choral music there. It was Gounod's belief that France was a country
"precision, neatness and taste, that is to say, the opposite of
excess, pretentiousness, disproportion and longwindedness"
It is in this sense, a master of a refined and precisely restricted style,
that he is now regarded.
Listen to this great
old sacred song
Printable sheet music (scorch format)
Listen to MIDI version
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in our series.
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