“A seasoned performer, Bobby Horton is a multi-instrumentalist, a composer, producer, and music historian. For more than 30 years he has traveled throughout The United States and Canada performing with the musical-comedy group Three On A String. He has also produced and performed music for ten Ken Burns films, including ‘The Civil War’, ‘Baseball’, and ‘Mark Twain’, two films for the A & E Network, plus sixteen films for The National Park Service. His series of recordings of authentic “period” music has been acclaimed by historical organizations and publications throughout America and Europe.”
This is my 14th volume of songs that were sung and played by Northerners and Southerners during The War Between the States. In my study of the period, it became obvious that soldiers and civilians alike turned to this music to sustain and uplift them in the hard times. I found many references to songs of faith in soldier letters, diaries, and reminiscences. Like all other volumes in this series, I worked-up the arrangements, sang all the parts, played all the instruments, and recorded here in my home production studio – hence the “Homespun” in the title.
DUNLAP’S CREEK – The great hymn writer, Isaac Watts, wrote these lyrics in 1707 during a severe thunderstorm. The music was composed in 1813 by Freeman Lewis and first appeared in the 1820 Supplement to Davisson’s Kentucky Harmony. This one is typical of early 19th century hymns sung in America.
GREENFIELDS – John Newton wrote this hymn as a parody of a secular song entitled “Ye Green Fields and Sweet Groves” (which was derived from a theme in a Bach cantata). It appeared in many Southern songbooks in the early 1800’s. This folk hymn was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorites from his childhood through his adult years.
EXPRESSION – The author and composer of this beautiful folk hymn is unknown. It was apparently quite popular for it appeared in many 19th century songbooks. The version presented here came from The Social Harp (Georgia, 1855).
SAY BROTHERS – Many historians believe this 1850’s camp meeting song was written by a Methodist Sunday school teacher from South Carolina named William Steffe. You will most likely recognize this melody and a few of the words in the chorus as it appears in Julia Ward Howe’s later song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
LAND OF REST – When William Walker was compiling his song book, Southern Harmony in 1835, he set the text of Reverend B. Hicks (a Baptist minister from South Carolina) to this old traditional folk melody.
BEACH SPRING – Joseph Hart wrote this powerful text in 1759 and B. F. White set it to this melody in his The Sacred Harp in 1844. This is truly one of the great hymns of the 19th century.
RAPTURE – General Stonewall Jackson once told his chaplain, Reverend Tucker Lacy, this hymn was one of his favorites because it best described the joy and happiness he found in his faith. It was written by the co-founder of the Methodist Church, Charles Wesley, in 1749.
FAIRFIELD – The popularity of this tune is obvious for it can be found in most of the hymn books published in the early and mid 19th century. While Edmund Jones, an English Baptist minister, wrote this text in 1750, nothing is known of the composer of the music.
ABIDE WITH ME – In times of distress and sorrow, Americans in the 1860’s often turned to this song for solace. In 1847, an English minister wrote these lyrics and his own music. It was first published in America in Henry Ward Beecher’s Plymouth Collection in 1855; the text was discovered by the great music composer, William Monk, who wrote this melody called “Eventide.”
PENSIVE DOVE – This unusual folk hymn comes to us from Maine via the oral tradition. True peace is represented by the dove in this lovely text.
ALAS! AND DID MY SAVIOR BLEED – Isaac Watts is known by many historians as “the father of English hymnody.” His hymns had a profound effect on 19th century Americans and this was one of his most popular. Hugh Wilson wrote this music in 1800.
BRIGHT CANAAN – Reverend John Moffett is the author of this early American camp meeting hymn. This one first appeared in several New England hymnals in 1842 and 1843. Songs like this one could often be heard in soldier services and around the camps.
JOSEPH – I found this unusual tune in The American Vocalist (published in 1849). Unfortunately, this book does not give any author or composer names, therefore, I do not know who to credit here. In our modern era, death has become “sanitized” and we as a society do not have to personally deal with it the way our ancestors did. Songs like this one helped people deal with the death of a loved one or fellow soldier during the war.
WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS – This is another text by Isaac Watts written in 1707. Lowell Mason, who is often called the Father of American public and church music, arranged this tune in 1824 based on a Gregorian chant. This one has been called by many “the finest hymn in the English language.”
CALVARY’S MOUNTAIN – The lyrics for this camp meeting hymn first appeared in Southern Harmony in 1835; this melody comes to us through the oral tradition. The name of the author and composer is unknown.
EVENING – On several occasions, I have had the privilege of witnessing Dr. James I. Robertson’s moving recreation of the 1863 Confederate Daily Morning Prayer Service. This hymn is part of that service. The melody is traditional Welsh; Reginald Heber wrote verse one in 1827 while Richard Whateley wrote verse two in 1855.
COME THOU FOUNT – This is one of the most popular hymns in 19th century America. Robert Robinson, a Baptist minister from England, wrote this text; John Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts composed the music and included the hymn in his publication Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Songs (1813).
PISGAH – According to Annabel Morris Buchanan, a noted musicologist, this was perhaps the most widely sung folk hymn in the country throughout the 1800’s. In 1820, Ananias Davisson of Virginia first published this tune in his Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony. Isaac Watts wrote this text.
ETERNAL FATHER STRONG TO SAVE – This fine hymn was also part of Dr. Robertson’s 1863 Confederate Prayer Service. William Whiting wrote these verses in 1860; John Bacchus composed this music in 1861. This one is now the official hymn of the United States Navy.
AMAZING GRACE (INSTRUMENTAL) – When James P. Carrell and David S. Clayton produced Virginia Harmony in 1831, they set the text of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” to an old plantation melody called “Loving Lambs” and included it in the publication. It has been a favorite of millions ever since!