A Fond Farewell to President Abraham Lincoln

By Roger Lee Hall, musicologist





The Collector's Edition of Smithsonian (March-April 2015) places John Wilkes Booth side by side with Abraham Lincoln as if to imply they are equaling important. Is that really accurate or is it to sell more copies? The latter seems to be true. The assassination plot of Booth has been covered in far more detail in books and magazines than the events surrounding President Lincoln's funeral and memorial events. One notable exception is the excellent book compiled from contemporary accounts and tributes, compiled by Lincoln authority, Harold Holzer (shown below).

As a musicologist, I've been disappointed that writers and historians have made little or no mention of songs connected to Lincoln's life,
especially since he was a lover of all kinds of music, much more than "Dixie."

One example of a song Lincoln liked but also made him filled
with sadness was Stephen Foster's "Gentle Annie,"
which reminded him of his youthful courtship of Ann Rutledge.

Read more about Lincoln's love of music in this publication:



A few quotes about the memorial events in 1865:

Chicago's memorial services were among the most elaborate in the nation. The president lay in state in Chicago's courthouse, where 125,000 viewed the remains at a rate of 7,000 an hour. Dr. Brown and undertaker Frank Sands accompanied the body on the long train journey to Springfield, re- embalming the body several times en route.


We sang... Geo. F. Root's new song, "Farewell Patriot [Father], Friend, & Brother [Guardian]"...The thousands and thousands who marched through were disappointed in not seeing the remains. They were not quite ready for view and so the whole mass went off dissatisfied. We staid [stayed] till the embalmers had prepared it, and so had a good view of it before the crowd came in. It looks better than I supposed Mr. Lincoln looked. The light shines on his face through silver stars.
-- From the diary of Francis Owens, a Chicago schoolteacher

Both quotes are from the Chicago Historical Society


The song written for Lincoln's funeral
is one of the most poignant reflections on a U.S. President.
It is a deeply felt poetic and patriotic tribute.


George Frederick Root (shown above)
was one of the most popular songwriters of the 19th century,
especially during Civil War years with songs such as:
"The Battle Cry of Freedom" and "The Vacant Chair."
His song in remembrance of President Lincoln
was sung in the funeral service in Chicago on May 2,
and at Lincoln's burial service in Springfield, Illinois on May 4, 1865,
without the Chorus published with the sheet music.
Here is the sheet music cover and words to his song:



All our land is draped in mourning,
Hearts are bowed and strong men weep;
For our loved, our noble leader,
Sleeps his last, his dreamless sleep,
Gone forever, gone forever,
Fallen by a traitor’s hand;
Tho’ preserved his dearest treasure,
Our redeemed, beloved land.

Farewell father, friend and guardian,
Thou hast joined the martyr band,
But thy glorious work remaineth,
Our redeemed, beloved land.

Thro’ our night of bloody struggle,
Ever dauntless, firm and true,
Bravely, gently forth he led us,
Till the morn burst on our view -
Till he saw the day of triumph,
Saw the field our heroes won;
Then his honor’d life was ended,
Then his glorious work was done.

When from mountain, hill and valley,
To their homes our brave boys come,
When with welcome notes we greet them,
Song and cheer, and pealing drum;
When we miss our loved ones fallen,
When to weep we turn aside;
Then for him our tears shall mingle--
He has suffer'd -- he has died.

Honored leader, long and fondly,
Shall thy memory cherished be
Hearts shall bless thee for their freedom,
Hearts unborn shall sigh for thee,
He who gave thee might and wisdom,
Gave thy spirit sweet release;
Farewell, father, friend and guardian,
Rest forever, rest in peace.    

"Farewell Father, Friend and Guardian"
(words by L.M. Dawn/ music by George F. Root)
published by Root & Cady, Chicago, 1865


A recording of this funeral song, sung by Eric Sosman, is on this CD:

AMERICAN PLACES - Musical Travels






The funeral song lyrics are in this Highly Recommended book
compiled by one of the foremost Lincoln scholars:

President Lincoln Assassinated!!
Compiled and Introduced by Harold Holzer


Other related music available:

"A Prayer for the Captive"
A Civil War era Shaker hymn
sung in memory of
President Abraham Lincoln



CD-ROM: "Glory, Hallelujah"
Songs and Hymns of the Civil War Era   





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