A few tunes and songs that were well known around the time of Lewis and Clark, which might be familiar to many people today, and are readily available in print:
All Through the Night—"Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee all through the night"
Alouette—"Alouette, gentle Alouette"
Blue Bells of Scotland—"O where, and O where has my Highland Laddie gone?"
Comin' Thru the Rye—"If a-body meet a-body comin —through the rye"
Drink to me only with thine eyes—"Drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will pledge with mine"
Green Grow the Rashes, Ho—"I'll sing you one, Ho! Green grow..."
Green Sleeves—"Alas, my love, you do me wrong to cast me off discourteously"
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier—"Here I sit on buttermilk hill" (To "go for a soldier" meant to volunteer for military service.)
Malbrouck has gone to battle—". . . Who knows when he'll return?"
Oh, dear, what can the matter be? –". . . Johnny's so long at the fair"
Yankee Doodle—"Father and I went down to camp"
Words to two popular tunes of the day.
God Keep America. The tune, which may date from the seventeenth century when it was associated with "God save the King," was first printed in America in 1761. The beautiful song beginning "My country 'tis of thee," which we sing to this tune today, were written in 1831.
God Keep AmericaAdams and Liberty. The tune once known as "To Anacreon in Heaven," to which we sing "The Star Spangled Banner" today, is of uncertain origin, but it is known to have been one of the most popular tunes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The first syllable of each stanza might have been sung on the same pitch as the second, not in a descending three-note pattern, as the tune is sung today.
Free from tyrannic sway
Till time shall cease
Hush'd be the din of arms
And all proud war's alarm;
Follow in all her charms
God save great Washington!
Fair Freedom's noble son,
Born to command.
May ev'ry enemy
Far from his presence flee,
And be grim tyranny
Bound by his hand.
Ye sons of Columbia, who lately have foughtTo Anacreon in Heaven. These words were written in 1775 for a London gentlemen's literary club called the Anacreontic Society—Anacreon was a Greek poet of the Fifth Century B.C. The men of the Corps of Discovery probably would not have known the song in its entirety, but most of them would surely have known the tune identified by the first four words. The first two syllables would have been sung on the same pitch as the third.
For those rights which unstained from your sires have descended,
May you long taste the blessings your valour has bought
And your sons reap the soil which your fathers defended;
Mid the reign of mild peace may your nation increase,
With the glory of Rome and the wisdom of Greece.
And ne'er may the songs of Columbia be slaves
While the earth bears a plant or the sea rolls its waves.
Let fame to the world sound America's voice;
No intrigue can her sons from their government sever;
Her pride is her Adams—his laws are her choice,
And shall flourish, till Liberty slumber forever!
Then unite, heart and hand, like Leonidas' band,
And swear to the God of the ocean and land,
That ne'er shall the songs of Columbia be slaves,
While the earth bears a plant or the sea rolls its waves.
To Anacreon in heaven, where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this message arrived 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 entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine."
Some more songs that were popular in those days, which might be hard to find in print today but might be on the Web. They probably would be unfamiliar to most people:
A la claire fontaine
The banks of the Dee
La Belle Françoise
Dans votre lit
En roulant ma boule
How happy the soldier who lives on his pay
How stands the glass around?
Jefferson and Liberty
Lass of Richmond Hill
Within a mile of Edinburgh town
Why, soldiers, why?
A few spiritual songs: (See "Did York Sing?")
All hail the power of Jesus' name
Amazing grace (though perhaps not to the same tune commonly heard today)
Come, thou fount of every blessing
Come ye sinners poor and needy
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
O when shall I see Jesus
Poor wayfaring stranger
When I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies
Some Christmas songs they might have known:
A Virgin Unspotted—An anthem by the American composer William Billings (1746-1800).
St. David's Tune—Said to have been Jefferson's favorite Psalm tune.
God rest you merry, gentlemen—An 18th-century English carol, but the tune usually heard today did not appear until about 1850.
The first Nowell—Another 18th-century English carol.
Hark, the herald angels sing—The hymn was written by Charles Wesley in 1739, and was set to several different tunes during the rest of the 18th century. However, it could not have been sung to the tune most people know today, which was adapted in 1855 by a British musician from a melody by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
O come, all ye faithful—Written by John Francis Wade, an Englishman living in Douay, France, in the mid-18th century. The tune, also by Wade, is said to have originally been in 3/4 meter.
Angels we have heard on high—A French carol from 18th century; not translated until 19th century. The familiar arrangement of the tune appeared in 1937.
Away in a manger—(Two tunes) Sometimes attributed to Martin Luther, but probably written in America for the 200th anniversary of his birth, and at that time would have been sung to different tune than the one now used, which was composed in 1895 by William James Kirkpatrick, an editor and compiler of camp-meeting songs and gospel hymns.
While shepherds watch'd their flocks by night—Often sung to Winchester Tune, which dates back to 1592.
Joy to the world—The hymn was a paraphrase by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) of Psalm 98, "Sing unto the Lord a new song." In the early 19th century it was often sung to the tune Christmas, from Little & Smith's Easy Instructor, 1798. The tune usually used now, called Antioch, was written in 1836 by Lowell Mason, a prolific American composer of hymn tunes.
All hail the power of Jesus' name—Usually sung to the American composer Oliver Holden's tune, Coronation, composed in 1789 for Washington's visit to Boston. First published in 1793, it was an immediate hit.
Christmas songs the men could NOT have sung:
Angels we have heard on high—1855
Away in a manger—1855
O little town of Bethlehem—1874
What child is this?—Though the tune was well known in 1803, these words weren't written until 1871.
We three kings—Words and music by John H. Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891)
Hark, the herald angels sing. The hymn—the text—was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. However, it could not have been sung to the tune most people know today, which was written by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
For more possibilities
Gilbert Chase, America's Music. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.
Helen Cripe. Thomas Jefferson and Music. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 1979.
H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction. 3rd ed., New York: Prentice-Hall, 1988.
Sigmund Spaeth. A History of Popular Music in America. New York: Random House, 1948.
Robert Stevenson. Protestant Church Music in America. New York: Norton, 1966.
Ruth and Norman Lloyd. The American Heritage Songbook. New York: American Heritage Publishing Company, 1969.
Thomas W. Marrocco and Harold Gleason. Music in America: An Anthology from the Landing of the Pilgrims to the Close of the Civil War, 1620-1865. New York: Norton, 1964.
Lee Vinson. The Early American Songbook. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1974.