Old Glory In Song

Tin Pan Alley Sings About the Star Spangled Banner


July, the month of the birth of our nation. A time for patriotism, love of country and celebration of our independence. Though over the years we have featured a number of songs about the American flag in other features, this month we want to specifically focus on songs about the American flag. Despite the political rancor we face today, as one of our featured songs from the past said, We Are All Americans, (Scorch version) and as such, for at least one day we should set aside political ambition and ideology and give thanks for our great country. There is no better time to honor the symbol of freedom our flag represents than the month of our independence.


Over the years, songs about our flag have been a source of inspiration to America since the earliest days of our nation. Of course, our national anthem (see below) celebrates our flag and its symbolism of our greatness and determination. The period from around 1900 to 1945, inclusive of the great World Wars was the most prolific period for songs about our flag. This month we celebrate the flag and present to you a new collection of songs about the flag and at the end of this feature, we've provided a gallery of some of the other songs about the flag we've featured before. Most of the songs this month are printable using the Scorch player, our "4th of July" gift to all of you. With the new songs we present this month and the included gallery, this feature includes twenty songs for your enjoyment. Happy Birthday America!


If you are new to us, to enjoy the full musical experience, we recommend that you get the Scorch plug in from our friends at Sibelius software. The Scorch player allows you to not only listen to the music but to view the sheet music as the music plays and see the lyrics as well. Each month we also allow printing of some of the sheet music featured so for those of you who play the piano (or other instruments) you'll be able to play some of the music yourself. It's a complete musical experience! Get the Sibelius Scorch player now.

 Richard A. Reublin, July, 2006. This article published July, 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without written permission of the author or a company officer. Some uses may not require written permission when in compliance with our published usage policy


Decoration Day



Music by: Andrew J. Dinegan
Words by: Hugo Hamlin
Cover artist: Unknown

OK class, raise your hand if you know what Decoration Day is. If you don't know, don't feel bad because you'd have to be well over 50 to even remember it. The actual origins of Decoration day are confused. If you Google it, you'll find a great deal of variance as to dates of origin and even the events that precipitated it. Most sites state that Decoration day was the original name for Memorial Day. However, as stated, the stories they give vary in fact thus putting the veracity of the histories in doubt. I suppose one person got it wrong and everyone followed. Decoration day was established in 1866 (some say '68, some say '77) and became either Memorial day or what is known today as Flag Day which we just celebrated on June 14. Since we still celebrate Flag Day and Memorial Day, the question is, do all these sites, including the prestigious History channel have it all wrong? I think so. If I recall correctly from my own school days in the 40's and 50's, , the original Decoration Day was established to honor our flag and was initially celebrated on June 5 according to one account then in 1916, Wilson declared it Flag Day. I guess we'll just have to go with the prevailing opinions that Decoration Day was the original name for Memorial Day.


Now, after wasting your time with that confusing ramble, I present to you our first song in celebration of Old Glory and the traditions we hold dear to honor those who have sacrificed so that we can enjoy our own freedoms. Since this piece was written well before the First World War, its focus is on the Blue and the Gray; veterans of the Civil War. It tells the tale of an old man and his grandson at a parade and the old man thinking of his friends who went to war with him in '61 and those who were lost. He speaks of "That flag brings back the day When first we march'd away, To the tune of Yankee Doodle and each boast and brag, We had no thoughts of fear, promised loved ones dear, We'd return brave heroes ev'ry one." Regrettably, not ev'ry one does return. The music, from a fairly unknown pair of song writers, is a relatively simple one. The dotted rhythm in the verse sounds a little out of place and reminds me of the old Jimmy Durante "Inka-Dinka-Doo" in its melody. The chorus changes character and moves into a high energy march with an excellent tune and accompaniment.


Hugo Hamlin Though I've been unable to find only two songs by him, here is what little we do know. Hamlin was born in 1884 and passed away in 1951. Hamlin moved to early Hollywood to produce stage productions and to create a line of girls similar to the 'Rocketts' of Radio City Music Hall. Hugo Hamlin produced all of the stage productions at Grauman's Chinese Theater prior to movies taking over. He originally lived in and around Boston, Cambridge and Salem. And that at some point he went to New York before coming to California. Besides Decoration Day I did find one other title attributed to Hamlin, I'm Going Back To Chattanooga Tennessee published in 1913.

I've found absolutely nothing on his partner, Andrew Dinegan.

Enjoy the Scorch version of Decoration Day , (See and hear the music with the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version



I Love The Old Flag


Words and Music by: W. H. De Lapp
Cover artist: unknown

Though the subject of the flag is one that has inspired many gorgeous sheet music covers, as with any genre, many songs were written and produced with no art work at all. These were either "budget" productions, often self published where the songwriter could not afford to commission an artist. Of course greatly popular songs were often republished in "plain brown wrappers" at reduced prices just for the value of the music. In this case however we do have a self published work written by and published by the author. In these cases, the music inside is what must captivate the imagination and emotion for the song to be a commercial success. In this case, the music is interesting and entertaining enough but does not measure up to hit status. However, we've got to admire these composers whose musical skills were valuable and desire to get their works published was so strong. De Lapp obviously has something important to express and personally made sure it was published.


The song is a rather syrupy waltz time ballad with four verses that tell the story of the "old flag" from it's birth through wars and the pride we feel on seeing it. Though the music is pleasant it is also quite unremarkable. It is the lyrics that are most stirring in this song and though the music may not measure up to them, they convey to us strong feelings of a patriot who supports his country and the flag that represents it. In De Lapp's words; "

At the sight of old Glory let hearts beat with pride, And remember the heroes who for the flag dies, And as long as we live we'll be loyal and true, To this star spangled banner, our red, white and blue."


Enjoy this song's wonderful sentiment. ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

listen to MIDI version



The Triumphant Banner


Music by: E. T. Paul
Cover artist: Hoen Lithographers



Speaking of the opportunity for gorgeous cover art related to the flag, we only need look to the famed E. T. Paull to find one of the most beautiful covers in this genre. In fact, Paull published many marches with fabulous color lithographs on the covers that depicted patriotic themes and that featured the Stars and Stripes. This piece is one of the more beautiful of the genre produced by Paull's lithographers, A. Hoen & Co. Of course over the years we've featured a large number of Paull works and have done two features about his music (one in July of 2001 and our first, rather tepid attempt in our early days in June of 1998) as well as a fairly comprehensive biography of him and his career. It's worth your while to take the time to learn about this man I call "America's other march king" and his music so be sure to take a side trip to those links.


We've said much about many of Paull's works and if you've heard many of them you'll almost always find familiarity within them. In many respects, Paull used a formulaic approach to his marches and whenever a military theme was involved (which it almost always is) he used the same conventions over and over. So much so that the same can be said of him as has been said of the classical composer Vivaldi; that he wrote the same piece many times over. In spite of that, his works are always interesting, stimulating and passionate. Of course, few contain any lyrics and we must just allow the music to convey the depth and intensity of feeling that Paull intended. He was always quite good at painting a panorama of visual images through music and as such, deserves much credit. His music was wildly popular for the two earliest decades of the 20th century and the covers are now coveted by collectors around the world.


E.T. (Edward Taylor) Paull (February 16, 1858 - November 27, 1924) Was the son of Virginia farmers and started his musical career as manager of a music store, selling pianos and organs in Martinsburg , Virginia around 1878. It is unclear as to his activities for the next 20 years but his first successful march was The Chariot Race or Ben Hur March (MIDI) in 1894. The great success of this march caused Paull to begin a steady stream of works. He started his own publishing company around this same period and continued publishing under his name till his death (at which time the company was bought and continued to publish under the same name for two years afterward). Though best known today for his marches, Paull did write other works and even wrote one piece for silent film Armenian Maid in 1919. Marches were wildly popular and though Paull was capable of composing fine works, he often obtained works by others and arranged them and released them under his banner. His last work was the 1924 , Spirit Of The U.S.A., (shown below) copyrighted just six weeks before his death. See our in-depth biography of Paull as well as our two features on his music from July 2001 and June 1998 to learn more about this man and his music.


Hear and see this stirring Paull march (Scorch version)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this piano solo piece)

The Flag Without A Stain



Words and Music by: C. A. White
Cover artist: unknown


Here is another type of "vanity work," published by a piano & Victrola company, given away as a promotional item. This cover goes a bit beyond De Lapp's I Love The Old Flag in that we have a photo included. The song was published by Beal & McCarthy, of Brockton (Mass. I assume), and Rockland. The gent on the cover is captioned, "Professor Everett B. Beal, Teacher of Piano." On the back is a photo of his business partner, William H. Mc Carthy "Piano Tuner." The reverse also carries the inscription; "With our compliments to our friends and patrons of the 'Fair.'" Clearly, the piece was used for distribution at a regional fair of some sort, no doubt in the year of publication. Unfortunately, I can't be sure of what fair and where it took place. I've searched a number of Internet keywords to hopefully find if the company is still in existence. Unfortunately I've not been able to find anything. If any of you residents of Brockton can help us out with information about the company and the owners, please let us know.


The music is quite good. The melody is clear and pleasant. The harmony and accompaniment is emphatic and presents a regal atmosphere that is simple yet dense enough to make the work very musical. The lyrics are given as though it is the flag itself telling us it's pride, determination and love of country. This song, in a plain wrapper is a wonderful gift from the past and an excellent patriotic work. Not only is the publisher lost to history, so too is the composer, C. A. White.


Listen to and see The Flag Without A Stain ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version


The Stars and Stripes Forever


Music by: John Philip Sousa
Cover artist: unknown

No review of songs about the American flag would be complete without one of the most definitive and recognizable works titled to our flag. Way back in 1998 we featured a cover image (see below) that was sent to us by Tamas Revbiro, a Hungarian author, lyricist, poet, artist and philosopher. At that time we only presented the work in MIDI format. For this issue we've updated it and give it a fresh look in printable format through the Sibelius program. First published in 1896, Sousa himself considered this work his finest of the 136 marches he composed. Though Sousa is best known for his marches and his role as the director of the U. S. Marine Band. What may not be as well known about him is that his marches are actually the smallest part of his prodigious output.


Sousa composed a number of operettas, numerous songs, sacred vocal works, instrumental works, humoresques, fantasies and dances. His reputation as "America's March King" and his stirring marches have unfortunately overshadowed his other musical accomplishments until the last few years when Naxos issued a number of discs as a part of their American Classics series. It is nothing short of amazing to hear this aspect of Sousa's compositional skills and I highly recommend you search some of these issues out to hear for yourself that Sousa was much more a composer than only the "march king."


This work is a superlative model of the march which as developed in the United States was influenced by the quickstep, a musical accompaniment for the military cadenced step in the 18th century. (New Grove Dictionary of American Music, V. III, p. 172) The cadenced step was a faster pace than ceremonial marches and were usually in 2/4 time. These marches were generally fast with "lilting" melodies and often used melodies borrowed from opera or other classical works. In the mid 19th century, a Trio was added to marches to provide a contrast between sections and repeats. The basic form became an A-B-A structure.


I suspect this may be the single most recognizable march in America, and probably around the world. Though it has no lyrics and never has, I remember my mom and dad listening to it and singing "Be kind to your web-footed friends, For a duck may be somebody's mother, etc." to the main melody. Whomever coined those lyrics must have been on something but they have survived now as a part of "children's" campfire songs. Interestingly, if you Google those lyrics, you'll find numerous sites that quote it as a children's song, none of which (of the ones I looked at) identified the source of the melody. One site credits the lyrics to Fred Allen.

Enjoy this definitive "Stars and Stripes" march ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (There are no lyrics to this work)

The Stars and Stripes Lead On


Music by: W. T. Welch
Words by: Elizabeth Allen Leatzow
Cover artist: unknown


Yet another song including "Stars and Stripes" in the title is this very obscure and unique work. Another "vanity" work, I actually find this one more an oddity than a song to be taken seriously. Let me qualify that, the lyrics do carry some sincere and important patriotic messages but parts of it seem completely out of character for the basic idea behind the song. Published by the author in Washington, D. C. and clearly written as a patriotic song in support of the troops going off to war in W.W.I, it is quite strange how the song seems to move from a song of support to almost a rebirth of the civil war. The music is marked as "accompaniment by" W. T. Welch and therein lies the interest. It appears Ms. Leatzow had some supportive lyrics to tell but had no real song other than a melody line.


So, she (and/or Welch) decided to use the tune from "Dixie." Given that set up, the song starts in one direction and seemingly ends as a hymn to Dixie. I was personally impressed with the idea that Ms. Leatzow was still carrying around the defeat of Dixie in the Civil War and needed to get in a few licks with this song. It truly is an oddity.


As for Ms. Leatzow, I've found nothing definitive about her but did locate information related to a book titled Dear Songs of Long Ago by an Elizabeth Allen von Leatzow which I suspect is the same woman.


Listen to this rather odd "flag" song. ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version


The Finest Flag That Flies


Music by: Harry Richardson
Words by: Joseph H. Hughes
Cover artist: unknown


A simple, yet beautiful (the flag alone is beautiful) cover graces this song by two now obscure songwriters. Though I'm unable to locate any information about Richardson, he did write several other songs including I'll Anchor My Ship, In Your Harbor Of Love in 1915 and Mother O'Mine in 1914. All works credited to him seem to have been published by his partner in this song, Joseph H. Hughes in Saginaw, Michigan. As such, most of his output may only have been distributed in the Michigan area thus keeping him from being nationally known. Hughes also collaborated with Richardson on the above two titles but also composed and wrote the lyrics to Where The Nightingale Woos The Rose in 1916.


The music is rather simple as the cover. The song begins with an eight bar introduction that includes a bugle call with drums impression in march (6/8) time and at the end of the introduction is an oddly placed empty bar that seems to serve no purpose other than to interrupt the flow of the music. I've deleted that bar in our presentation so as to provide a smooth flow to the music. The music is fine but in general, unremarkable. The lyrics tell the story of a father lecturing his son on the greatness of America's flag (and what she stands for) and that no matter where you roam, you'll always miss it and your home in America.


Listen to and see the music for "The Finest Flag" ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version


They'll Be Proud Of Old Glory (When Your Boy Comes Home To You)


Words and Music by: Joseph J. Barry
Cover artist: Unknown, Rice Photo by Sterling


Another regional publication, this time from Connecticut boldly shows the red, white and blue of the flag and features a photo of Rose Rice as having "successfully introduced" the song. Unfortunately, I've found nothing on Rice and a search on the net only returns information about a rice food product called "rose rice." The piece was written, composed and published by Barry and the cover mentions five other works by Barry, none of which seem to have survived in any other of the major sheet music collections on the net. I always feel fortunate when a work comes to us and appears to be one that is otherwise lost to the many library collections available. It assures us that our work to preserve these important historical documents is worth the effort.


The music is excellent and is a patriotic song from the earliest days of America's involvement in the First World War. A jaunty introduction in 2/4 time gives way to a more flowing verse in 4/4 time. The verse still has a great deal of march flavor to it, including bugle calls and drum rolls. The story unfolds of a mother watching their sons march off, soon to go to war and remembrance of her husband marching off in "'98" to join the band of heroes who protect America and fight evil across the world. The chorus returns to 2/4 time and this is where the song really shines. Through the use of snippets of more familiar songs including Dixie, The Marseillaise and Yankee Doodle. Despite these very short snippets, there is a great deal of originality of melody and musical interest through use of silence, staccato and a great accompaniment. This work stands the test of time and is one of the better works in this month's feature.


Listen to this patriotic war song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version


That's What The Red, White and Blue Means


Music by: E. E. Bagley
Words by: Robert Levenson
Cover artist: Starmer


In the final gallery of this months feature (see below) is a work of renown that is one of the best known and as we have said, every bit the equal of The Stars and Stripes Forever. That work, the National Emblem March was and still is one of the most lasting march tunes ever written. In fact, it was so good that it was often attributed to Sousa, of course a somewhat backhanded compliment to the composer Bagley. As we said in July of 2002, "One reason for the success of this song is that Bagley quoted freely from the The Star Spangled Banner and wove a terrific musical tapestry around that melody as well as many of his own original and memorable melodies. However, Bagley begins in Eb with an introduction that really catches your attention and then transitions to The Star Spangled Banner where Bagley uses the first twelve notes of it in duple, rather than triple time. Once the quote from the Star Spangled Banner is used, all of the other melodic material in this march are Bagley’s."


When we originally published the march, we received a number of inquiries as to versions that contained lyrics. At the time we did not know of or have a copy of any versions with words. Some readers made us aware of a supposed novelty song that borrowed the melody (see Bagley bio below) however we've never found a copy. As we've seen many times, very popular melodies are often refitted with lyrics and reissued as songs. Finally, in the case of the National Emblem, we've come across a version composed by Bagley in collaboration with Robert Levenson that lives up to the original, or at least uses the principal melodies. The opening bars are nearly as originally written for the march. The verse melody has been adapted somewhat but is still recognizable. The chorus carries the principal melody that is most memorable. Levenson has done an excellent job of writing some stirring patriotic lyrics to go with this classic song. The cover art by Starmer is one of his best.


Edwin Eugene Bagley (1857 - 1922) Was one of Americas most eminent bandmasters and composer of marches. His most famous march is the National Emblem however many of his marches are still quite popular today and are frequently played at military ceremonies. The tune to the National Emblem was used in a novelty song, And The Monkey Wrapped His Tail Around The Flagpole.

Bagley began his music career at the age of nine as a vocalist and comedian with Leavitt’s Bellringers, a company of entertainers that toured many of the larger cities of the United States. He began playing the cornet, traveling for six years with the Swiss Bellringers, after which time he joined Blaisdell’s Orchestra of Concord, New Hampshire. In 1880, he came to Boston as a solo cornetist at the Park Theater. For nine years, he traveled with the Bostonians, an opera company. While with this company, he changed from cornet to trombone. He performed with the Germania Band of Boston and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. By this time he had already composed many marches, including Front Section, The Imperial, The Ambassador, and America Victorious. Bagley never took a lesson on any musical instrument. He was also a fine artist who could have made a name for himself as a caricaturist.


See and hear this vocal version of a famous march ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.


Let's Keep The Glow In Old Glory (And The Free in Freedom Too)


Music by: Robert Speroy
Words by: Wilbur D. Nesbit
Cover artist: unknown


The cover artist for this work is not stated nor signed however it surely looks like some of Norman Rockwell's finest. This is without question, the finest cover in this month's collection. I consider it to be one of the best covers of all in our collection. I also believe the music and lyrics within make this song the best of the lot and my "discovery of the month." The composer has created a wonderful song and yet again, we have a composer virtually forgotten. We are aware of a few other songs by him; There's An Angel Missing From Heaven (1918), At The Funny Page Ball (1918) and In The Days That Were Gilded With Gold (?). His lyricist, Wilbur Nesbit may be the English poet (1871 - 1927) but I cannot confirm that. It could well be the Wilbur D. Nesbit of Cedarville, Ohio as well. Nesbit is credited with at least one other song; My Big Little Soldier Boy (1915). Perhaps a relative of either man can enlighten us if they should run across this page.


The music is a delight. The verse, unlike many song verses is as memorable as the chorus. In cut time (2/4) the song is a nice march style song. Of course the song was written on the occasion of the war and like many from that period was designed to support the troops and sing the praises of America. With three verses and a great chorus, the song really delivers musically and lyrically. The cover images blend magnificently with the music and I only wish that Americans were as fervent about our great country as they once were. This song truly captures the spirit of America and what the flag means to our country.


Listen to this fabulous song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.


Spirit of the U. S. A.


Music by: E. T. Paull
Cover artist: Hoen Lithographers


Speaking of the spirit of America! In his very last composition, E. T. Paull chose to honor America and our origins with this terrific march with an equally terrific cover. Through over 230 years the spirit of America has stayed strong and though subject to criticism, we are still the bastion of freedom and democracy for the world. No other flag has been so honored (and reviled by some) and held high as a symbol of peace and hope. May she continue to wave and carry the message of freedom forever. Happy birthday America!


Listen to this great march ( Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.

Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)

Over the years, we've published many other songs about our flag, here is a sampling of some of them and a link to each of the articles that featured them.

You can see and hear the Scorch version for each song by clicking on the sheet music cover image shown here. For lyrics and MIDI versions see the linked articles.

Featured in our July, 2002 article about patriotic songs.

Featured in our July, 2002 article about patriotic songs.

Also featured in our July, 2002 article about patriotic songs.

Featured in our April, 2004 article about Music as Propaganda.

Featured in our July, 2002 article about patriotic songs.

Featured in our series about W.W.I music, part two

Featured in our November, 2001 article about the music of Charles K. Harris.

Featured in our July, 2002 article about patriotic songs.

Featured in our October, 2000 feature about newspaper music supplements.

This article published July , 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or music may be reproduced only in accordance with our usage policy. Commercial use is prohibited without permission. Though the songs published on this site are in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.


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