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Lyr Req: Letter to Tom / Our Village Home

GUEST,eb1 14 Oct 01 - 08:18 PM
Sorcha 14 Oct 01 - 09:14 PM
GUEST,eb1 15 Oct 01 - 11:50 AM
masato sakurai 15 Oct 01 - 12:43 PM
masato sakurai 15 Oct 01 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Masato 25 Jul 03 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Wes Clark 26 Aug 10 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Wes Clark 26 Aug 10 - 01:22 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Aug 10 - 04:08 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Jan 11 - 01:04 PM
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Subject: Letter To Tom
From: GUEST,eb1
Date: 14 Oct 01 - 08:18 PM

Has anyone heard of a song called Letter To Tom? I heard it was Lincoln's favorite poem set to music and I am looking for the lyrics.


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Subject: Lyr Add: A LETTER TO TOM (Traditional)
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Oct 01 - 09:14 PM

A LETTER TO TOM
Traditional

1. I've wandered by the village Tom
I've set beneath the tree
Upon the schoolhouse playing ground
That sheltered you and me
But none are left to greet me Tom
And few are left to know
That played with us upon the green
Just fifteen years ago

2. The river's running just as still
The willows on its side
Are larger than they were dear Tom
The stream appears less wide
But in kneeling down beside the stream
Dear Tom I startled so
To see how sadly I am changed
Since fifteen years ago

But when our time shall come dear Tom
And we are called to go
I hope they'll lay us where we played
Just fifteen years ago

Just fifteen years ago

(Is this it?)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Letter To Tom
From: GUEST,eb1
Date: 15 Oct 01 - 11:50 AM

Yes that's it! It has a beautiful melody, as well. I wonder why it isn't in the database. Thanks so much. Where did you find it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: OUR VILLAGE HOME (Augustus Rogers)
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Oct 01 - 12:43 PM

The original title is "Our Village Home." The lyrics are longer, and have the line "twenty years ago." The Levy has it, with this description.

Title: Our Village Home. Ballad.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Composed by Augustus Rogers. Arranged for the Piano Forte by Henry Tucker.
Publication: Albany: F.I. Ilsley, 544 Broadway, 1855.
Form of Composition: strophic
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: I've wandered to the village, Tom, I've sat beneath the tree
Dedicatee: To James D. Pinckney, Esq.
Engraver, Lithographer, Artist: J.C. Pearson, N.Y.; Pearson Engr.

MIDI and lyrics are in Public Domain Music, under Tucker (1885):

To James D. Pinckney, Esq.
"Our Village Home" (1855)
Ballad.
Composed by Augustus Rogers
Arranged for the Piano Forte
by Henry Tucker [1826-1882]
[Source: 128/145@Levy]

1.
I've wandered to the village, Tom, I've sat beneath the tree,
Upon the schoolhouse playground, which sheltered you and me;
But some were there to greet me, Tom, and few were left to know,
That played with us upon the green, some twenty years ago.
The grass is just as green, Tom; bare-footed boys at play,
Were sporting just as we did then, with spirits just as gay;
But the "Master" sleeps upon the hill, which, coated o'er with snow,
Afforded us a sliding place, just twenty years ago.

2.
The old school-house is alter'd some, the benches are replaced
By new ones very like the ones our own-knives had defaced;
But the same old bricks are in the wall--the bell swings to and fro,
Its music just the same, dear Tom, 'twas twenty years ago,
The river's running just as still; the willows on its side,
Are larger than they were, Tom; the stream appears less wide--
But the grape-vine swing is ruined now, where once we played the beau
And swung our sweethearts--"pretty girls"--just twenty years ago.

3.
The spring that bubbled 'neath the hill, close by the spreading beach,
In very low--'twas once so high, that we could almost reach;
And, kneeling down to get a drink, dear Tom, I started so,
To see how much that I am changed, since twenty years ago.
Near by the spring, upon an elm, you know I cut your name,
Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom, and you did mine the same;
Some heartless wretch had pealed the bark--'twas dying, sure but slow,
Just as that one, whose name you cut, died twenty years ago.

4.
My lids have long been dry, Tom, but the tears came in my eyes;
I thought of her I loved so well--those early broken ties;
I visited the old church-yard, and took some flowers to strow
Upon the graves of those we loved, some twenty years ago.
Oh! some are in the church-yard laid--some sleep beneath the sea;
But few are left of our old class, excepting you and me;
And when our time shall come, Tom, and we are called to go,
I hope they'll lay us where we played, just TWENTY YEARS AGO.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Letter To Tom
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Oct 01 - 12:46 PM

Sorry, the sheet music in The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music is here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Letter To Tom
From: GUEST,Masato
Date: 25 Jul 03 - 10:38 AM

"Twenty Years Ago" composed by William Willing is in Joe Mitchell Chapple, Heart Songs (1909; reprinted Clearfield, 1997, pp. 280-81).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Letter To Tom
From: GUEST,Wes Clark
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 01:18 PM

A performance for guitar and voice is used very movingly in the Antietam National Battlefield short film "Antietam Visit." I think you can find this on youtube. The film describes Lincoln's visit to the battlefield to visit Gen. George McClellan; mention is also made of his recently deceased son Willie.

So this was one of Lincoln's favorite songs, huh? You learn something new every day...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Letter To Tom
From: GUEST,Wes Clark
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 01:22 PM

Regarding Abe Lincoln's favorite poem, see:

http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/lincolnpoetry/


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Subject: Lyr Add: TWENTY YEARS AGO (anonymous, 1852)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Aug 10 - 04:08 PM

Substantially the same lyrics appear in The Student: A Family Miscellany, Vol. 6, No. 2 (New York: Fowlers and Wells, December, 1852), page 52.

However, it is presented as a poem, not a song; the title is TWENTY YEARS AGO; and no author is credited.

Furthermore, the stanzas are half as long as the ones posted by Masato above (which seems appropriate, since every fourth line ends in the words "twenty years ago"), and consequently there are twice as many stanzas—plus one more:

1. I've wandered to ...

2. The grass is just ...

3. The old school-house ...

4. The boys were playing some old game, beneath the same old tree;
I do forget the name just now—you've played the same with me
On that same spot—'twas played with knives, by throwing so and so;
The leader* had a task to do, there, twenty years ago.

5. The river's running ...

6. The spring that bubbled ...

7. Near by the spring ...

8. My lids have long ...

9. Some are in the ...


* A later copy of the poem had "loser" instead of "leader"—which makes sense if the "task" was a type of "forfeit."

So apparently it was the composer who, when he set the poem to music, decided to group 2 of the original stanzas to make one longer new stanza, and therefore he had an odd one left over, and so omitted it.

Too bad the poet never got credit.

The sheet music is at Levy; Click to download a PDF file.

By the way, I've listened to the MIDI file at Public Domain Music (see Masato's link above) and it seems much too fast and upbeat considering the subject matter. I'd slow it down and omit the "drums."


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Subject: Lyr Add: FORTY YEARS AGO (Allen/Baker, 1857)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 01:04 PM

I found another version in the IN Harmony collection at Indiana University:

FORTY YEARS AGO
"As sung by the Baker's [sic]"
Words, Wm. Allen, M.D.; Music, John C Baker.
New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1857.

It too is divided into eight 4-line stanzas. The text is nearly the same as that posted by Masato called OUR VILLAGE HOME by Augustus Rogers, with, of course, "twenty years ago" changed to "forty years ago" throughout. In addition, it has a few words that, I think, make more sense:

Verse 1, line 3:
But none were there to greet me, Tom, and few were left to know,

Verse 3, line 2:
By new ones, very like the same our pen-knives had defaced;

Verse 5:
The spring that bubbled 'neath the hill, close by the spreading beech,
Is very low—'twas once so high, that we could almost reach;
And, kneeling down to get a drink, dear Tom, I startled so,
To see how much that I am changed, since twenty years ago.

Verse 8, line 4:
I hope we'll meet all those we loved some forty years ago.


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Mudcat time: 19 October 8:51 PM EDT

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