|Composer||Johnstone, Arthur Edward |
|Lyricist||Loomis, Harvey Worthington |
|Publisher||Oliver Ditson Co. |
|Year of Publication||1917 |
|Date of Copyright||1917-05-21|
|Physical Description||1 score, mixed voices and piano (, 2-4 p.)|
|Comment||This effective anthem, written in the wake of Wilson's call for a declaration of war, was first performed on June 1, 1917, and rapidly became popular, primarily because its skilled quotation of the whole of "America" made it easily performed by amateurs. Copyright was assigned to Oliver Ditson in late 1917, and Ditson retained it in its catalog until at least the 1960s. It was widely sung at school ceremonies and by civic groups on patriotic holidays; after waning in popularity in the 1930s, it enjoyed a resurgence during World War II. Performance and reception; assessment; related works.|
- Johnstone and Loomis evidently conceived and wrote this song in April or early May, 1917, in response to Wilson's speech to Congress on April 2, asking for a declaration of war. But although they declare themselves "inspired" by that speech, the lyrics contain no explicit textual links.
- Almost certainly the specific motivation, however, was the National Conference on Community Music, held at the start of June in New York; there the composer, at the piano, led an amateur choir in the first performance. The success was nearly instantaneous, and the song spread rapidly throughout the country. In October 1917, copyright was reassigned to Oliver Ditson, who reissued the title in three different arrangements, beginning near the end of 1917 and continuing through 1918. This, for mixed voices, is the first of these Ditson publications. Ditson's nationwide presence and marketing no doubt contributed to song's enduring popularity, but the primary reason was surely Johnstone's inspired idea to combine a straightforward unison melody with the tune and text to "America," creating an effective work that could be performed by even the most amateur of choirs. The popularity of "America's Message" declined after 1925 but then rebounded in World War II; it wasn't until the 1960s that the song finally faded from view.
- The war years saw dozens, if not hundreds, of performances, all of them by amateur groups. Johnstone himself led several of these, and on June 1, 1918, he was featured as the "composer of 'America's Message" in a lengthy profile in the Boston Post, which also reproduced the score to the song. Performances continued after the war, when the work also appeared occasionally on professional or concert programs. Despite the enduring popularity, no recordings or piano rolls have been found.
|Musical Note||This anthem consists of a single line of music, with piano accompaniment, that is sung in verses 3 and 4 in counterpoint with "America" ("My Country, 'Tis of Thee"). The tune is somewhat awkward on its own but functions very well as a countermelody; the accompaniment makes skilled use of harmonic chromaticism.|
|Subject - Topic|
- World War, 1914-1918
- Songs and music
- Popular music
- Patriotic music
- Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 2 parts) with piano
|Subject - Geographic||United States |
|Subject - Temporal||1911-1920 |
- [verse 1] Wake, all ye nations! a new song is ringing, / With Hope's golden message eager winging. / Rouse ye, rouse ye! come rally to the call / Of world-wide fellowship, the brotherhood of all!
- [verse 2] Right shall prevail after warfare's black thunder / While chains forged by tyrants break in sunder. / Cohorts, cohorts, extend the open hand / Of friendship heaven-born to ev'ry sister land!
- [verse 3] Blent in one rainbow, the flags of all nations /
- [verse 4] Skies flash the signal; the trumpets are sounding; / The roll-call of millions is resounding; / Arm then, arm then! nor let the echo cease / Of Freedom's battle-cry to win eternal peace.
- ["America," sung with verses 3 and 4; verse 3] My country, 'tis of thee, / Sweet land of liberty, / Of thee I sing; / Land where my fathers died; / Land of the pilgrim's pride; / From ev'ry mountainside / Let Freedom ring!
- ["America," sung with verses 3 and 4; verse 3] Our father's God! to thee, / Author of liberty, / To thee we sing; / Long may our land be bright / With freedom's holy light; / Protect us by thy might, / Great God, our King!
|Rights Description||The organization that has made the Item available believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information.|
- text only, in simple frame; catalogue number, title details, and price above; ornamental star above publisher. Black and red on white; unsigned.
- Cover, below title: A Universal Anthem
- Cover: Unison Double Chorus / to be sung simultaneously with / “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”
- Cover, below composer: (Octavo No. 13,198. Price, 10 cents) / Arranged for / Mixed Voices, Four-part / (Octavo No. 13,231. Price, 10 cents) / Arranged for / Men’s Voices, Four-part / (Octavo No. 13,250. Price, 10 cents)
|Back Cover Description||Four-hand accompaniment.|
- p. 2, below title: Note. The tune of God Save the King, familiarly known in this country as America, is generally believed to have been composed by Henry Carey, an Englishman, and it was publicly sung by him for the first time in 1740. It was afterwards employed as a patriotic air by several European nations and it is now the National Anthem of Great Britain. The tune was a great favorite with Weber and also with Beethoven. ¶ When the Rev. Samuel Francis Smith, in 1832, wrote the words, “My Country, ’tis of thee” for a Fourth of July celebration, he took them to Dr. Lowell Mason of Boston, to find a musical setting. Dr. Mason discovered the melody in a book of miscellaneous songs, and found that it fitted Dr. Smith’s verses. It is not believed that Lowell Mason or Dr. Smith knew at the time that this was the National air of Great Britain. The tune was not sung to any extent in this country until the period of the Civil war, 1861-1868, when a great outburst of National sentiment brought about the general use of this anthem. ¶ In view of the sentiment underlying America’s Message, and the international appeal of Carey’s music, the concerted rendition of these two melodies seems especially appropriate.
- p. 3, bottom: Published also for Orchestra
- p. 4, bottom: *When two pianists are available this accompaniment is especially recommended. Play through four times. For verses see pages 2 and 3.
|Performance Medium||Mixed voices and piano. |
|Original Location||Box 163|
|Collection Title||James Francis Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music|
|Collection||World War I Sheet Music from the James Francis Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music|