Song book

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A song book is a book containing lyrics for songs. Song books may be simple composition books or spiral-bound notebooks. Music publishers also produced printed editions for group singing. [1] [2] Such volumes were used in the United States by piano manufacturers as a marketing tool. [3]


Song books containing religious music are often called hymnals; books containing the music for hymns with minimal, or no words, are sometimes called tune books. [4] [5]

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Related Research Articles

Hymn religious song for the purpose of adoration or prayer to address deity

A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means "a song of praise". A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist. The singing or composition of hymns is called hymnody. Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books. Hymns may or may not include instrumental accompaniment.

Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation that uses musical symbols to indicate the pitches, rhythms, or chords of a song or instrumental musical piece. Like its analogs – printed books or pamphlets in English, Arabic, or other languages – the medium of sheet music typically is paper, although the access to musical notation since the 1980s has included the presentation of musical notation on computer screens and the development of scorewriter computer programs that can notate a song or piece electronically, and, in some cases, "play back" the notated music using a synthesizer or virtual instruments.

Shape note

Shape notes are a musical notation designed to facilitate congregational and social singing. The notation, introduced in late 18th century England, became a popular teaching device in American singing schools. Shapes were added to the noteheads in written music to help singers find pitches within major and minor scales without the use of more complex information found in key signatures on the staff.


A hymnal or hymnary is a collection of hymns, usually in the form of a book, called a hymnbook. Hymnals are used in congregational singing. A hymnal may contain only hymn texts ; written melodies are extra, and more recently harmony parts have also been provided.

<i>John Browns Body</i> United States marching song about the abolitionist John Brown

"John Brown's Body" is a United States marching song about the abolitionist John Brown. The song was popular in the Union during the American Civil War. The tune arose out of the folk hymn tradition of the American camp meeting movement of the late 18th and early 19th century. According to an 1890 account, the original John Brown lyrics were a collective effort by a group of Union soldiers who were referring both to the famous John Brown and also, humorously, to a Sergeant John Brown of their own battalion. Various other authors have published additional verses or claimed credit for originating the John Brown lyrics and tune.

Sacred Harp Tradition of sacred choral music, originating in New England in the 18th century and carried on in the Southern U.S., using tunebooks printed in shape notes

Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of sacred choral music that originated in New England and was later perpetuated and carried on in the American South of the United States. The name is derived from The Sacred Harp, a ubiquitous and historically important tunebook printed in shape notes. The work was first published in 1844 and has reappeared in multiple editions ever since. Sacred Harp music represents one branch of an older tradition of American music that developed over the period 1770 to 1820 from roots in New England, with a significant, related development under the influence of "revival" services around the 1840s. This music was included in, and became profoundly associated with, books using the shape note style of notation popular in America in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The Real Book refers to compilations of lead sheets for jazz standards. It usually refers to the first volume of a series of books transcribed and collated by Berklee College of Music students during the 1970s.

<i>Southern Harmony</i>

The Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion is a shape note hymn and tune book compiled by William Walker, first published in 1835. The book is notable for having originated or popularized several hymn tunes found in modern hymnals and shape note collections like The Sacred Harp.

Daniel Read was an American composer of the First New England School, and one of the primary figures in early American classical music.

"The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning" is a hymn of the Latter Day Saint movement. It was written by W. W. Phelps, one of the most prolific hymnwriters of early Mormonism.

Ananias Davisson

Ananias Davisson was a singing school teacher, printer and compiler of shape note tunebooks. He is best known for his 1816 compilation Kentucky Harmony, which is the first Southern shape-note tunebook. According to musicologist George Pullen Jackson, Davisson's compilations are "pioneer repositories of a sort of song that the rural South really liked."

Hymns are an important part of the history and worship of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

<i>Hymns Ancient and Modern</i>

Hymns Ancient and Modern is a hymnal in common use within the Church of England, a result of the efforts of the Oxford Movement. Over the years it has grown into a large family of hymnals. As such, the Hymns Ancient and Modern set the standard for the current hymnal in the Church of England.

Onward, Christian Soldiers 19th-century English hymn

"Onward, Christian Soldiers" is a 19th-century English hymn. The words were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865, and the music was composed by Arthur Sullivan in 1871. Sullivan named the tune "St Gertrude," after the wife of his friend Ernest Clay Ker Seymer, at whose country home he composed the tune. The Salvation Army adopted the hymn as its favoured processional. The piece became Sullivan's most popular hymn. The hymn's theme is taken from references in the New Testament to the Christian being a soldier for Christ, for example II Timothy 2:3 (KJV): "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Christian hymn for Advent and Christmas

"O come, O come, Emmanuel" is a Christian hymn for Advent and Christmas. The text was originally written in Latin. It is a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, a series of plainchant antiphons attached to the Magnificat at Vespers over the final days before Christmas. The hymn has its origins over 1,200 years ago in monastic life in the 8th or 9th century. Seven days before Christmas Eve monasteries would sing the “O antiphons” in anticipation of Christmas Eve when the eighth antiphon, “O Virgo virginum” would be sung before and after Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat. The Latin metrical form of the hymn was composed as early as the 12th century.

Hymn tune

A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm, and no refrain or chorus.

John Wyeth

John Wyeth (1770–1858) was a printer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania who is best-known for printing Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second, which marks an important transition in American music. Like the original Repository of 1810, Part Second used the four-shape system of Little and Smith in The Easy Instructor to appeal to a wider audience; but its pioneering inclusion American folk tunes influenced all subsequent folk hymn, camp meeting, and shape note collections. Musicologist Warren Steel sees Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second as marking "the end of the age of New England composer-compilers (1770-1810) and the beginning of the age of southern collector-compilers (1816-1860)."

Shenandoah Harmony

The Shenandoah Harmony is a 2013 republication of the works of Ananias Davisson (1780–1857) and other composers of his era, in the format used by modern shape note singing groups. Although a number of new shape note tune books were compiled and published in the two decades leading up to the publication of the Shenandoah Harmony, this volume is notable as "the largest new four-shape tunebook published for more than 150 years." The importance of the Shenandoah Valley for the emergence of a distinctive Southern shape-note singing tradition has been noted by many musicologists. Authentic South reporter Kelley Libby of WFAE, attending an all-day singing in Cross Keys, felt "transported to the Shenandoah Valley of the 1800s."


  1. Beattie, John (1941). The Gray Book of Favorite Songs (Enlarged ed.). Chicago, IL: Hall & McCreary. OCLC: 11729190.
  2. Dann, Hollis (1919). Twice 55 Plus Community Songs : The New Brown Book. Boston, Ma: C. C. Birchard Co. OCLC: 2343182.
  3. The One Hundred and One Best Songs, The Cable Company, Piano Makers, Chicago, IL. 1912
  4. Stone, Alfred (1891). The Bristol Tune Book (Third ed.). London, UK, New York, NY: Novello, Ewer & Co.
  5. Eskew, Harry (1970), "Using Early American Hymnals and Tunebooks", Notes, 27 (1), p. 19, JSTOR   896750, early America there were two books: the hymnal, typically with words only, and the tunebook, usually with tunes printed in open staves and frequently with only single stanzas of text. ... The hymnal was produced primarily for church use, whereas the tunebook was produced for a greater variety of uses ... .

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