Now Shall My Inward Joys Arise

Shape note music scores

Sheet music in four-shape notation.

Eighteenth century music

William Billings


PDF of Chester with Billings's original patriotic words.


Pdf of Jargon

The remarkable atonal piece by Billings.

John Tufts

100 Psalm Tune

PDF of 100 Psalm Tune

Irving Lowens argued that this may well be the first published composition by an American composer. It was written for the early Singing School movement, and thus deserves notice by Sacred Harp and other shape note singers.

Elisha West

PDF of Death's Alarm

Nineteenth century music

William Walker


PDF of Friendship, arr. by William Walker

Friendship offers a wonderful glimpse into how music is changed over time. The original melody came from Handel, and was gradually modified by editors and arrangers over the next 150 years.

The melody is "Viva la face, viva l'amor" in the third act of Handel's opera Atalanta. The opening bars of the melody appeared as follows in Handel’s opera:

Musical example.

By 1798, the tune had been published in the New World, in The American Musical Miscellany, ed. Andrew Wright (Northhampton, Mass.: Daniel Wright and Co., 1798, pp. 249-252). It was transposed to the key of G major; the melody slightly altered; and only a bass part and melody were given. The opening bars of the melody were as follows:

Musical example.

It was at about this time that Handel's melody was paired with the present text. The earliest version of the text I've been able to find is in The Philadelphia Songster of 1789 (pp. 12-13), where it is is attributed to a "Mr. Bidwell of Connecticut." The 1789 version gives the opening phrase as "Friendship to every generous mind...."

A four-part version, with music attributed to G. Cook, appeared in The Hesperian Harp of 1848. The bass part has been modified from that in The American Musical Miscellany, and the piece has been rebarred. The opening measures of the melody as given in The Hesperian Harp look like this:

Musical example.

There were other versions of the tune in other shape note tunebooks, but these will give you an idea of how the tune was borrowed and modified.

The version in the PDF above is, to my mind, the most interesting of all the arrangements I've seen. It comes from William Walker's Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist of 1860. The opening bars of Walker's melody more closely resemble Wright's version:

Musical example.

Walker made other changes later in the tune, particularly in the B section; he did not use the treble line found in The Hesperian Harp, modified the bass line still further, and discarded the alto line. The resulting three-part tune is typical of Walker’s arrangements: each part sounds like a simple folk melody considered by itself, but together they produce interesting dissonances Including the occasional tritone). You can still hear something of Handel’s original melody in Walker’s version. But the key, the harmony, the words, and everything else has changed.

Star in the East

PDF of Star in the East

This tune has been included in a number of contemporary tunebooks, which generally use a later four-part arrangement by Walker. The version above is the earlier 3-part version. The later version, with the added alto part, is less spare harmonically.