Stacy ChristensenMr. Neisen Concert Choir12 January 2017William Billings William Billings is known for being the Father of American choral music. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 7, 1746 and died September 26, 1800. Growing up Billings lived in a poor family and had to be taken out of school at the age of 14 to help out at home. Later in his life he married Lucy Swan in Stoughton, Massachusetts on July 26, 1774, and together they had 6 children. Although it is unknown why he took a liking to music, Billings took up music and self taught himself how to compose music and is known for his many american folk songs. He is known for having forceful and vivid songs with strong meanings behind the words and notes. Billings is also known for having a missing leg and eye, but despite his missing body parts, he composed music his whole life. At age 24 he published his first book of choral pieces. He called it The New-England Psalm-Singer, and Paul Revere engraved the cover for it. He published five more volumes and several other pieces of sheet music. One of his most famous songs is a patriotic piece titled “Chester.” He also used his talent in music to teach at a singing school where he taught people how to read and sing music, and then they would have a graduation concert at the end of a three month term. Aside from composing music he spent most of his time as a tanner in order to get more money. He died at a young age of 54 partly due to his tobacco addiction. His tobacco habit also caused him to have a damaged voice which many thought turned out to be a beautiful bass voice. One of Billings famous pieces is “When Jesus Wept.” This song was composed for a piano and organ arrangement, but it can also be done with hand bells. This song was published in 18 hymns for the Easter and Lent time in church, which is why he composed this piece. Since this song was wrote for the congregation of a church it was wrote to be sung in unison. The song is written in english and only has a few lines which are, “When Jesus wept, the falling tear, in mercy flowed beyond all bound. When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear seized all the guilty world around.” Because of the short length, many choirs will repeat it to make it longer. I chose this song because even though it is short, it has a good message about the Easter Season in the church. The song also stood out to me because it relates Jesus’s tears to his unending mercy which is a great metaphor. The tone of this song is sorrowful. It definitely makes me think of everything that Jesus did for us by dying on the cross. (Sheet Music: https://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0085789Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrMCBvaXkZc) Another one of Billings pieces is “Chester.” Billings wrote this patriotic song during the American Revolutionary War. He first wrote it for his 1770 songbook, The New England Psalm Singer, and made improvements for the version in his The Singing Master’s Assistant in 1778. His main reason for writing this song was to show his patriotism during the war. Later on Philip Doddridge recreated the words into a religious piece instead of a patriotic one. The overall tone of the original piece is sentimental but also happy because one can tell that from this piece they are proud of their country. Although this piece has been performed many ways, it is often played by violins and a piano, but always sung in English considering the fact that it is an American patriotic song. In the song it has labeled parts of Treble, Counter, Tenor, and Bass which corresponds to the modern SATB four-voice choir. However, the melody is in the tenor part, not the treble part. I chose this song to look into because it is about a very important part of our history and shows our patriotism. This song stuck out to me because in the lyrics it says that they do not trust in men but in God, and how God is their inspiration and hope during the war. Listening to this piece really makes me thankful for our country and the men that are willing to risk their lives to protect us everyday. (Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_St8bsx31A Sheet Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_(song)#Tune_in_version_of_1778) The last piece of William Billings that I chose to look at is “Lamentation Over Boston.” This song is based on Psalms 137 which is the destruction of Jerusalem. He composed this piece to relate the times of Jerusalem’s destruction to Boston during the American Revolution. This piece also contains paraphrases of Samuel Adams, who is one of the Founding Fathers of America, and who Billings was good friends with. He was also good friends with other various American heroes, such as Paul Revere. This song is usually song SATB with no instrumental, but has also been sung in a Men’s choir and Mixed a capella in english. The tone of this song is hopeful. It shows that they will be able to get through the war because God is on their side. This song stuck out to me because it is sung a capella which I think makes the message more powerful. No instruments in the background makes one really pay attention to lyrics and singers. What I like about this song is that Billings emotion was strong and real and he incorporated the language of the Bible. He also had a hidden meaning in this piece and that was that God was on America’s side. (Sheet Music: http://aarongiles.com/engravings/lamentation-over-boston-billings.pdf Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RurNWcC_DI ) After my research on Williams Billings, I have found that most of the pieces he composed are patriotic and religious. The main reason for this is because he grew up in a time where America was at war and somedays his only hope was in God. After listening to his pieces I can tell that he keeps the same style of music throughout. Some differences between his pieces is that some were a capella and others had instrumental. Also he wrote some songs for SATB and others were unison, usually the ones wrote for hymnals. Despite the differences in each song they were all pleasant to listen to. William Billings put much thought and emotion into his music which is clearly evident when listening to his beautiful pieces. Works Cited: “Billings, William (1746-1800).” American Eras, Encyclopedia.com, www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/music-history-composers-and-performers-biographies/william-billings#BillngsW.”Chester (Song).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 June 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_(song)#Tune_in_version_of_1778.Composer: William Billings. Hymnary.org, hymnary.org/tune/when_jesus_wept_billings.Eastside, Master Chorus. “Master Chorus Eastside.” Biblical Lamentations & William Billings’ Lamentation Over Boston, 1 Jan. 1970, masterchoruseastside.blogspot.com/2014/06/biblical-lamentations-william-billings_3.html”Evening Song: Lamentation Over Boston, William Billings.” Dulces Voces, 4 June 2016, dulcesvoces.com/?p=146.The Music Of William Billings, www.amaranthpublishing.com/billings.htm.”William Billings.” Singers.com, www.singers.com/composers/William-Billings/.”William Billings.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Billings.