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Location: Independence, Ohio, United States

Librarian at Indiana Wesleyan University's Cleveland Education Center.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Anacreon in Heaven

Joao Rocha shares the 18th Century song Anacreon in Heaven, the musical ancestor of the U.S. National Anthem.

Rocha offers the following comments on the tune, as well as the lyrics:

The song was written for the Anacreontic Society, probably around 1771. The tune (...) is now thought to have been written "collectively" by members of the society, led by John Stafford Smith (...). The society met every two weeks to get drunk, sing songs and to indulge in some debauchery. Anacreon himself was a Greek poet from about 570BC who was noted for his erotic poetry (...) and his drinking songs.
To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent in 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."
(...)
Ye Sons of Anacreon, then join hand in hand;
Preserve unanimity, friendship and love!
'Tis yours 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."
Source: http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/anacreo... ; Song performed by John Townley, from "The Top Hits Of 1776", Adelphi Records; Picture: "Drinking-song", Mihály Zichy, 1874

-DD

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