The Lord’s Prayer Composed by J. G. May. the Words by the Revd. C. E. [Engraved Philadelphia Sheet Music with Lyrics in English and German].
A fine example of German-American rare sheet music
Interesting Philadelphia engraved sheet music, possibly composed by a woman, with English and German-language lyrics. The latter is printed in English and German typeface; an unusual thing to see—bilingual American sheet music published at this early date.
The lyrics of J. G. May’s The Lord’s Prayer do not follow the Biblical text of the prayer “Our Father…,” but are an extended variant of it, a textual reinvention of the Dominical prayer common within eighteenth and early nineteenth-century hymnody.
The English and German lyrics for the first verse are set within the music which is arranged in a three-stave format. Six additional quatrain verses, again, both in English and German, follow.
The opening quatrain gives a flavor of the hymn’s text:
Our Father Ruler of the Heavens!
Hallow’d be thy name Creator! Lord!
By the Seraph, by the Saint in Glory,
By cheerful living worm ador’d!
The Biblical allusion to man as a worm (cf. Job 25:6) is resonant with Pennsylvania-German Pietist sensibilities and may suggest that the lyricist was a Pennsylvania German minister.
Rare sheet music from 1817 Philadelphia showing an unusual German-American bilingual presentation.
Description: The Lord’s Prayer Composed by J. G. May. the Words by the Revd. C. E. [Engraved Philadelphia Sheet Music with Lyrics in English and German].
Philadelphia: Published and Sold at G[eorge]. Willig’s Music Store, 1817. , [1, blank]pp. 13 x 9¾ inches. First Edition, First State. Engraved Musical Score. Bifolium. Title from caption on page ; 16-line copyright statement dated 9 May 1817 on page . Early, pictorial hand stamp for the Franklin Music Warehouse, Boston on p. Removed; early paper tape spine reinforcement; light staining; very good.
OCLC 64345015 (1 copy only). Wolfe, Secular Music in America, 1801–1825 5650, citing six additional locations and noting “May, J. G., Unidentified composer of Philadelphia or its environs, possibly a woman.”