Anthology of American Hymn Tunes

Anthology of
The American
Hymn-Tune Repertory

The Colonial Era to the Civil War

Images from period tunebooks representing
first or early printings with MIDI recordings.

Mark D. Rhoads, Editor

This anthology. . .

contains 50 representative tunes in 33 tunebooks and 7 categories sung by Americans from the period between the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the mid-19th century. We most often experience the printed tunes through transcriptions; but here you will see these tunes as they appeared in the old tunebooks. Some are printed from beautifully engraved copper plates; others are quite primitive in appearance. Some are printed from wood blocks or typeset while others introduce unusual or innovative notation. Some of the tunebooks have fascinating and lengthy prefaces which give insight into the issues that surrounded Psalm and hymn singing. Spend some time looking at the way the tunes are printed; explore the title pages and read the prefaces. The only way to truly experience this vocal art is to sing it, occasional printing errors and all, with a group of friends.

Related resources by the editor:

About this site:

Tunes | Tunebooks | Resources | Top

English Common Tunes
16th & 17th Centuries

Tunes by the "Yankee Tunesmiths" 1770-1805

Plain Tunes

Sunday School Tunes of William Bradbury

African American Spirituals

Folk Hymns and Campmeeting Songs

Campmeeting Songs

Folk Hymns


Tunebooks | Tunes | Resources | Top
Tunebooks (in chronological order)
Henry Ainsworth
Billings, William [1] [2] [3]
Bradbury, William [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
Thomas Walter
John Tufts
William Tans'ur
James Lyon
Hastings, Thomas [1] [2]
Josiah Flagg
Josiah Flagg
Daniel Bayley
Ingalls, Jeremiah [1] [2]
Daniel Bayley
William Billings
William Billings
Andrew Law
Simeon Jocelin
Mason, Lowell [1] [2] [3] [4]
Oliver Brownson
Read, Daniel [1] [2]
Daniel Read
Stephenson, Joseph [1] [2]
Oliver Holden
Tans'ur, William [1] [2]
Amos Pilsbury
W.Little, W.Smith
Jeremiah Ingalls
John Wyeth
Hastings & Mason
Thomas Hastings
B. F. White
William Walker
Lowell Mason
The National Psalmist, 1848    
John G. McCurry
Lowell Mason
William Bradbury
William Bradbury
William Bradbury
Wm Allen, et. al.
Joseph Hillman

Transcriptions or Images of Selected Prefaces

Preface to The Grounds and Rules of Music Explained, 1721 (Thomas Walters)
Preface to A Compleat Melody, 1735 (William Tans'ur)
Preface to A Collection of the Best Psalm Tunes, 1764
(Josiah Flagg)
Preface to The Chorister's Companion, 1783 (Simeon Jocelin)
Preface to Select Harmony, 1779 (Andrew Law)
Preface to The Easy Instructor, 1802 (Little and Smith)
Preface to Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, 1833 (Lowell Mason and Thomas Hastings)
Preface to Sacred Songs for Family and Social Worship, 1842 (Thomas Hastings)

Preface to Carmina Sacra, 1842 (Lowell Mason)
Preface to The Sacred Harp, 1844 (B. F. White and E. J. King)
Preface to The National Psalmist, 1848 (Lowell Mason)
Preface to The American Vocalist, 1848 (D. H. Mansfield)
Preface to The Plymouth Collection, 1855 (Henry Ward Beecher)
Preface to The Sabbath Hymn and Tune Book, 1859 (Lowell Mason)
Preface to Oriola, 1859-1862 (William Bradbury)
Preface to The Golden Shower of Sunday School Melodies, 1862 (William Bradbury)
Preface to The Golden Censor, 1864 (William Bradbury)

Historical Information

Amazing Grace: Some Early Tunes
Gallery Music (Sue Glover provides important information about West Gallery music. Her "Who was Who" is especially useful.)
Reformers and Resisters: Changing Taste in American Protestant Church Music, 1800-1860 (pdf)
John Wyeth and Southern Folk Hymnody
Fasola-Sacred Harp and Shape-note Singing (links to many resources related to this anthology)
Shape-Note Singing Schools
American Folk Hymnody in Illinois, 1800-1850
The Regular Singing Controversy: The Case Against Lining Out

Sacred Harp and Shape-Note Related Music Resources (links to many resources related to this anthology)
Church Music in America, Nathaniel Gould, 1853

Hymn Tunes from the period covered by this anthology

The Hymn Tune Index
Isaac Watts Fan Club (MIDI renderings of many tunes popular in America during the period covered by this anthology.)
Spiritual Songs for Social Worship,
5th Ed., 1837 (Hastings and Mason)
The Christian Lyre,
18th Ed. revised, 1838 (Joshua Leavitt)
The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music,
9th Ed.,1830 (Lowell Mason)

Hymn texts sung in America during the period covered by this anthology

Olney Hymns (John Newton and William Cowper)
Psalters (Old Version, New Version, Bay Psalm Book, Scottish Psalter, Watts)
The Bay Psalm Book (The Whole Booke of Psalmes...) 1640
A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists, 1779 (John Wesley)
Hymns for the Use of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1869 (Revised ed. of 1849)
Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts
A Collection of Divine Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1810 (Joshua Smith & Samuel Sleeper)
Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures, 1766 (Philip Doddridge)
Hymns, &c Composed on Various Subject, 1769 (Joseph Hart)
Several hymns by Anne Steele
Several hymns by John Cennick
The Golden Harp, Or, Camp-meeting Hymns, Old and New Set to Music, 1857 (George W. Henry)
John Rippon "Watts and selected hymns" corrected and improved by Rev. C. G. Sommers, 1832
Village Hymns, 7th Ed., 1827 (Asahel Nettleton)
Timothy Dwight "Watts and selected hymns" 1821


Hymn Society of the United States and Canada
West Gallery Music Association
Parson John (A Discussion of Religion: Christianity on the Kentucky and Cumberland Frontier, 1700-1800)

Mark D. Rhoads, Department of Music, Bethel University, 3900 Bethel Drive, St. Paul, MN 55112