Smith : To Anacreon in heaven : Printable cover page
Composer: John Stafford Smith (1750 - 1836)
Lyrics: Ralph Tomlinson
Written for use as the club song by the Anacreontic Society. Admired at the time, the song's popularity continued into the twenty-first century in forms as diverse as a national anthem (The United States of America) and thence as a novelty instrumental by James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix.
Only the first verse is underlaid in the original source, following verses being appended below. This edition has underlaid the text in full, each verse separately; the clearest way to deal with the vagaries of the scansion. Bar-lengths have been halved (the original being notated in 6/4)
The Anacreontic Club existed c.1766 - 1792 and the song (written before 1773) was an essential part of each meeting's ceremony. The current version, published by Stafford Smith in 1799, appears to be a worked-up version of his original. Although contemporary accounts mention high musical capabilities, and although club practice was sometimes to employ professional singers in all but the chorus, this arrangement seems unfeasibly complex for a piece habitually performed in conviviality. Conversely, sparser arrangements, the template for the future national anthem, appear too simplistic to be the club song for a society of competent singers. An authentic realisation of the song probably lies somewhere between published versions.
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