To Anacreon in Heaven
|"The Anacreontic Song"|
First page of the 1790 edition of the score.
|Song by The Anacreontic Society|
|Published||1778(lyrics only) c. 1780 (music)|
|Label||The Vocal Magazine|
|Composer||John Stafford Smith|
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"The Anacreontic Song", also known by its incipit "To Anacreon In Heaven", was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London. The tune was later used by several writers as a setting for their patriotic lyrics. These included two songs by Francis Scott Key, most famously his poem "Defence of Fort McHenry". The latter combination became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and was adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America, in 1931.
- 1 The Anacreontic Society
- 2 The original role of the Song
- 3 Composition and authorship
- 4 Publication
- 5 Lyrics
- 6 Music
- 7 "The Star-Spangled Banner"
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
The Anacreontic Society
The Anacreontic Society was a gentlemen's club of the kind that sprang up in London in the late eighteenth century. Dedicated to the ancient Greek poet Anacreon, renowned for his drinking song and odes to love, the Society was founded "about the year 1766" and originally had 25 members (later expanding to 80). The members, who paid the three guineas subscription fee, were generally of "fashionable society" including "several noblemen and gentlemen of the first distinction". Each member was entitled to admit one guest. The Society met twelve times a year, starting in late November, and continuing every other Wednesday evening. Each meeting began at half past seven with a lengthy concert, featuring "the best performers in London" (who were made honorary members of the Society). Following the concert, the members adjourned to another room for a meal, after which the members would participate in "catches and glees", "songs", "miniature puppet-shews", and "everything that mirth can suggest".
At its inception, in 1766, the Society met in various tavern, and then the London Coffee House on Ludgate Hill. It subsequently moved to the Crown and Anchor tavern in The Strand in order to accommodate an expansion in its membership from 25 to 40.
A musical high-point of the society occurred in January 1791, when Josef Haydn attended a meeting at which the twelve-year-old Johann Hummel performed, "astonish[ing] the company with a most admirable performance of a favourite English ballet, with variations, on the harpsichord".
The Society came to an end after the Duchess of Devonshire attended one of its meetings. Because "some of the comic songs [were not] exactly calculated for the entertainment of ladies, the singers were restrained; which displeasing many of the members, they resigned one after another; and a general meeting being called, the society was dissolved." It is not clear exactly when this incident occurred, but in October 1972 it was reported that "The Anacreontick Society meets no more; it has long been struggling with symptoms of internal decay".
The original role of the Song
Possibly the earliest reference to the Anacreontic Song is found in the long-unpublished journals of gentleman-composer John Marsh (1752-1828). Writing of December 11, 1773, he recalls:
Mr Bowen... invited me to accompany him on the Saturday following to a concert at the London Coffee House called the Anacreontic Meeting, which I of course readily accepted of & played with Mr Smith the leader after wh'ch we sat down a pretty many of us to supper after which catches & glees were performed, in which a Mr Webster, a young man with a very fine bass voice much distinguish'd himself. The Anacreontic Song was also sung by him, in the last verse of which we stood hand in hand all around the table, this concert being in fact the origin of the Society held afterwards for many years at the Crown and Anchor.
Another reference is found in the long-unpublished "Recollections" of Richard John Samuel Stevens (1757-1837). In this passage, Stevens is speaking of the year 1777:
The Evenings entertainment began at seven O Clock, with a Concert, chiefly of instrumental Music; it was not very uncommon to have some Vocal Music interspersed with the Instrumental. Mr. Sabattier was the Manager of this department, and generally stood behind the Person who was at the Piano Forte. At ten O Clock the Instrumental Concert ended, when we retired to the Supper rooms. After Supper, having sung "Non nobis Domine" we returned to the Concert Room, which in the mean time had been differently arranged. The President, then took his seat in the center of the elevated table, at the upper end of the room, supported on each side, by the various Vocal performers. After the Anacreontic Song had been sung, in the Chorus of the last verse of which, all the Members, Visitors, and Performers, joined, "hand in hand," we were entertained by the performance of various celebrated Catches, Glees, Songs, Duettos, and other Vocal, with some Rhetorical compositions, till twelve O Clock.
Parke, writing in the early nineteenth century, recalls:
After the concert an elegant supper was served up; and when the cloth was removed, the constitutional song, beginning, 'To Anacreon in Heaven,' was sung by the chairman or his deputy.
The Anacreontic Song served as the "constitutional song" of the Society. After the initial concert and meal, the Song would be sung in order to open the after-supper, more light-hearted part of proceedings. The verses, which are difficult to sing because of their wide range, would be sung by a solo singer, with the entire Society joining in the refrain. Although it is often described as a "drinking song", Lichtenwanger states that To Anacreon in Heaven "was not a barroom ballad, a drinking ditty to be chorused with glasses swung in rhythm", but "convivial, ... in a special and stately way".
The early publications do not name the composer of the music, but they ascribe the lyrics of the Song to the Society's president, Ralph Tomlinson. Tomlinson, a lawyer, likely became President of the Society following the death of the previous President, George Bellas, in January 1776. Tomlinson himself died in March 1778 at the age of thirty-three.
The identity of the composer was a subject of controversy until the discovery, in the mid-twentieth century, of a passage in a then-unpublished manuscript of Recollections written by Richard John Samuel Stevens (1757-1837), a member of the Anacreontic Society. Writing of the year 1777, Stevens recalled:
As I have mentioned the Anacreontic Society, it may not be improper to give some account of that Popular meeting. It was first held at the London Coffee House, on Ludgate Hill, but the room being found too small, it was removed to the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, then kept by one Holloway. The President was Ralph Tomlinson Esqre, very much of a Gentleman, and a sensible, sedate, quiet man: I believe that he was a Solicitor in Chancery. He wrote the Poetry of the Anacreontic Song; which Stafford Smith set to Music: this Song was sung by Webster, when I first attended the Society.
In this passage, Stevens identifies the composer as John Stafford Smith (1750-1836). Smith, the son of the organist of Gloucester Cathedral, was sent at a young age to sing in the Chapel Royal, and thereafter soon established himself in the capital. Like Stevens himself, Smith was a young professional musician active primarily in the chapels and churches of London. Both Smith and Stevens were likely among the "honorary members" of the Anacreontic Society who played in its concerts without having to pay the subscription fee; Smith is probably the "leader" identified by Marsh in his recollection of 1773 excerpted above.
In his Fifth Book of Canzonets (1799), Smith included an arrangement of the Anacreontic Song, adding the ambiguous notation "harmonized by the Author". Apart from this, there is no evidence that Smith ever claimed to have written the music (publications of the Song during Smith's lifetime did not name the composer).
It remains puzzling why Smith did not make more effort to associate himself with the Song, especially when its popularity increased after the music was set to other texts (notably the Defence of Fort McHenry -- see below). Until the discovery of Stevens's Recollections there was some controversy over whether Smith was in fact the composer of the Song. However, no alternative story for the music's origins (whether as the work of a different composer or as a pre-existing tune) ever gained a consensus among historians. Lichtenwanger suggests that "[p]erhaps Smith composed the song for Tomlinson for money, for a flat fee, which meant yielding his legal rights in it to Tomlinson or the Society".
|August 17, 1744||Ralph Tomlinson baptized in Plemstall, Cheshire.|
|March 30, 1750||John Stafford Smith baptized in Gloucester Cathedral.|
|1761||John Stafford Smith becomes a chorister at the Chapel Royal, London.|
|June 19, 1766||Ralph Tomlinson is admitted to the Society of Gentlemen Practisers in the Courts of Law and Equity, London.|
|1766||Approximate date of the founding of the Anacreontic Society, by Jack Smith.|
|1773||John Stafford Smith is awarded two composition prizes by the Catch Club of London.|
|December 11, 1773||John Marsh records that he attended a meeting of the Anacreontic Society at the London Coffee House. The Anacreontic Song was sung by Webster. "Mr Smith" leads the musicians.|
|January 15, 1776||Death of George Bellas (president of the Society). Latest possible date for Ralph Tomlinson to become President.|
|1777||Latest possible date for the move from the London Coffee House to the Crown and Anchor tavern. This move took place under Ralph Tomlinson's presidency.|
|1777||Stevens writes that he "regularly attended" the Society around this time. Tomlinson was President.|
|March 17, 1778||Death of Ralph Tomlinson.|
|August 1, 1778||Words of the Anacreontic Song (earlier version, with references to the meeting-place at the London Coffee House) published in The Vocal magazine. Attributed to "Ralph Tomlinson, Esq.".|
|March 1780||Words of the Anacreontic Song (later version) published in The London Magazine. Attribute to "the late R. Tomlinson".|
|May 1780||Anonymous "History of the Anacreontic Society" published in The Gentleman's Magazine. Includes the words of the song (later version), attributed to "poor Ralph Tomlinson, their late President".|
|Some time between 1777 and 1781||First Longman & Broderip edition of the Song with music and text (later version) published. Words attributed to Tomlinson; music unattributed|
|1783||First known dated publication of the music of the Song, in The Vocal Enchantress. Both words and music are unattributed.|
|1792||Anacreontic Society "meets no more"|
|1799||John Stafford Smith publishes his Fifth Book of Canzonets, with a possible oblique claim to authorship of the Song|
|21 September 1836||Death of John Stafford Smith.|
The song, through its bawdy lyrics, gained popularity in London and elsewhere beyond the Anacreontic Society. New lyrics were also fashioned for it, including several patriotic titles in the United States. The most popular of these at the time was Robert Treat Paine Jr.'s Adams and Liberty (1798).
The lyrics of the song were published in The Vocal Magazine, 1778, attributed to "Ralph Tomlinson, Esq.". The music, along with the words, was published in The Vocal Enchantress, a collection published in 1783. There are also various undated publications of the music which likely date to the early 1780s. None of these publications name the composer of the music.
Particular interest attaches to the first Longman & Broderip edition of the music, published between 1777 and 1781. This was likely the first publication of the music and the official edition from which others were copied. Broderip, a partner at the firm, is known to have attended meetings of the Society.
- To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee,
- A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
- That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
- When this answer arriv'd from the Jolly Old Grecian
- "Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
- "no longer be mute,
- "I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
- "And, besides I'll instruct you, like me, to intwine
- "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
- The news through Olympus immediately flew;
- When Old Thunder pretended to give himself Airs.
- "If these Mortals are suffer'd their Scheme to persue,
- "The Devil a Goddess will stay above Stairs.
- "Hark! already they cry,
- "In transports of Joy,
- "Away to the Sons of Anacreon we'll fly,
- "And there, with good Fellows, we'll learn to intwine
- "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.
- "The Yellow-Hair'd God and his nine fusty Maids,
- "From Helicon's banks will incontinent flee,
- "Idalia will boast but of tenantless Shades,
- "And the bi-forked Hill a mere Desart will be
- "My Thunder no fear on't,
- "Shall soon do it's Errand,
- "And dam'me! I'll swinge the Ringleaders, I warrant.
- "I'll trim the young Dogs, for thus daring to twine
- "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
- Apollo rose up, and said, "Pry'thee ne'er quarrel,
- "Good King of the Gods, with my Vot'ries below:
- "Your Thunder is useless" — then shewing his Laurel,
- Cry'd "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
- "Then over each head
- "My Laurels I'll spread;
- "So my Sons from your Crackers no Mischief shall dread,
- "Whilst snug in their Club-Room, they jovially twine
- "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
- Next Momus got up with his risible Phiz,
- And swore with Apollo he'd chearfully join —
- "The full Tide of Harmony still shall be his,
- "But the Song, and the Catch, and the Laugh shall be mine.
- "Then, Jove, be not jealous
- "Of these honest fellows."
- Cry'd Jove, "We relent, since the Truth you now tell us;
- "And swear by Old Styx, that they long shall intwine
- "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
- Ye Sons of Anacreon, then join Hand in Hand;
- Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
- 'Tis your's to support what's so happily plann'd;
- You've the sanction of Gods, and the Fiat of Jove.
- While thus we agree,
- Our Toast let it be.
- May our Club flourish happy, united, and free!
- And long may the Sons of Anacreon intwine
- The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.
The earlier version of the lyrics
In the first known version of the lyrics, as published The Vocal magazine of 1778, there are two significant textual discrepancies from later publications.
- In the second verse, A fig for Parnassus! To Rowley's we'll fly; appears in place of Away to the Sons of Anacreon we'll fly
- In the third verse, To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee, appears in place of From Helicon's banks will incontinent flee,
The two replaced lines refer to the Society's earlier meeting-place at the London Coffee-House, which was situated on Ludgate Hill and seems to have occupied the same premises as Rowley and Leech, a wine merchant.
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
Francis Scott Key wrote "Defence of Fort McHenry" during the War of 1812, while detained on a British ship during the night of September 13, 1814, as the British forces bombarded the American fort. Key specifically wrote the lyrics with this familiar patriotic tune in mind, just as he had done with an earlier set of his lyrics, "When the Warrior Returns", in which he had made similar use of "star-spangled banner" imagery. Later retitled "The Star-Spangled Banner", Key's lyrics, set to Stafford Smith's music, became a well-known and recognized patriotic song throughout the United States, and was officially designated as the U.S. national anthem on March 3, 1931. The setting of new lyrics to an existing tune is called a contrafactum.
- Anonymous, "History of the Anacreontic Society", in The Gentleman's Magazine And Historical Chronicle, for May 1780. London: D. Henry. 1780. pp. 224–225.
- Parke (1830), pp. 80-81
- The Times, January 14, 1791, p. 2., reported at Lichtenwanger (1977), pp. 8-9
- Parke (1830), pp.83–84
- St James's Chronicle 18-20.10.92, reported at McVeigh (2012)
- Robins (ed.), Brian (1988). The John Marsh Journals: the life and times of a gentleman composer. Styuvesant, NY: Pendragon Press. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0945193947.
- Argent (ed.), Mark (1992). Recollections of R.J.S. Stevens: An Organist in Georgian London. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 24–26. ISBN 0809317907.; emphasis added
- Parke (1830), p. 81
- Lichtenwanger (1977), p. 23
- Lichtenwanger (1977), pp. 23-24
- Lichtenwanger (1977), p. 10
- Smith, John Stafford (1799). A Fifth Book of Canzonets, Canons & Glees, Sprightly and Plaintive. London: the author. OCLC 181765310.
- the ambiguity inheres in whether the word "Author" refers to the author of the Anacreontic Song, or merely to the author of the Fifth Book of Canzonets; see Lichtenwanger (1978), pp. 13-15
- Lichtenwanger (1977), p. 21
- Lichtenwanger (1977), p. 19
- Grove, George; J. A. Fuller-Maitland (1904). Grove's dictionary of music and musicians, volume 4. London: Macmillan. pp. 488–489. OCLC 407077.
- Sonneck (1914), p. 34
- Lichtenwanger (1977), n. 22 p. 34
- "Adams and Liberty".
- The Vocal Magazine. London: J. Bew. 1778-08-01. p. 147. OCLC 221370776.
- The Vocal Enchantress. London: J. Fielding. 1783. pp. 336–338. OCLC 728290655.
- The Anacreontic Song, as Sung at The Crown and Anchor Tavern in The Strand, The Words by Ralph Tomlinson Esq Late President of That Society, London: Longman & Broaderip, n.d. (see Library of Congress]); The Anacreontic Song, as Sung at The Crown and Anchor Tavern in The Strand, London, Dublin: Anne Lee, n.d.; see Sonneck (1914), pp. 41ff.
- A facsimile of this edition is available at the Library of Congress.
- Marsh, p. 253
- Orthography as in original, except that closing quotation marks have been added.
- First version: A fig for Parnassus! To Rowley's we'll fly;
- First version: To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee,
- According to : "Sic evitabile fulmen roughly translates to "this repels thunderbolts" (It was a common Roman belief that laurel provided protection from lightning.)
- Sonneck (1914), p. 39
- "When the Warrior Returns".
- "John Stafford Smith: Composer of the Star Spangled Banner".
- As American as tarte aux pommes! Celebrating the Fourth with some American Music
- Lichtenwanger, William (1977). The Music of "The Star-Spangled Banner": From Ludgate Hill to Capitol Hill. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. OCLC 843588215.. Also available online here.
- McVeigh, Simon. "Trial by Dining Club: the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Clementi and Mozart at London's Anacreontic Society" in Zon (ed.), Bennett (2012). Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Temperley. Farnham: Ashgate. pp. 105–138. ISBN 9781409495536.
- Parke, William Thomas (1830). Musical Memoirs, vol. 1. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley. OCLC 22715472.
- Sonneck, Oscar George Theodore (1914). The Star Spangled Banner. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. OCLC 402041.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Tomlinson, Ralph, To Anacreon in Heaven, Poem of the Week, #234, retrieved 2008-06-01
- Lossing, Benson J., ed. (1873), The American Historical Record II, Philadelphia: Samuel P. Town, Publisher, p. 129