Sing a Happy 250th Birthday to



Preeminent Composer of
Colonial and Revolutionary America

Central Burying Ground on
Boston Common
Sunday, October 6, 1996
1 pm - 4 pm rain or shine

Singers of all levels of experience are invited
to celebrate by singing the music
of this unique Yankee genius

No Admission Charge!
Free to singers and to listeners alike!


Sunday, October 6, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

The class was called to order near the oldest tree at the highest point in the Central Burying Ground on Boston Common by Roland Hutchinson leading OLD HUNDRED in the version published by William Billings in 1779. Leaders: Gina Balestracci GLOCESTER, Ginnie Ely AFRICA verses 1-3.

Roger Hall (representing Stoughton, Massachusetts, where the Old Stoughton Musical Society, the oldest choral society in America, sings Billings's music in an unbroken tradition founded when the composer visited Stoughton in 1774 to teach singing school and to court his future bride, Lucy Swan) STOUGHTON and CHESTER.

Gabe Wiener JORDAN, Larry Gordon BROAD COVE, Joel Cohen 254 ROSE OF SHARON (page numbers given in these minutes indicate a song sung from the version printed in The Sacred Harp 1991), Donna Abrahams 180 VERMONT, Diane Mennella "When Jesus wept," Doron Henkin GILEAD, Mark DeVoto JARGON, Bruce Randall "The Lord is Ris'n Indeed" (EASTER ANTHEM) with the inserted section published in 1795.




Gina Balestracci reassembled the class leading CHESTERFIELD. Leaders: Barbara Swetman ASSURANCE, Bob Parr 174 PETERSBURG, Richard Schmeidler "David the king was grieved" (268 DAVID'S LAMENTATION), Jane Zanichkowsky WASHINGTON (the same song as BEAR CREEK, but with Billings's alto part), Glen Wright BOSTON, Katie Shimizian (age 11) AFRICA verses 4-6, Susan Mampre 173 PHOEBUS, Ishmael Stefanov-Wagner 486 BENIFICENCE, Ronald Bornick ST. ANN'S, Matthew Wojcik BAPTISM.

Roland Hutchinson then spoke to acknowledge the other members of the Ad-Hoc Billings Birthday Committee; the singers who had assembled from many states and nations to make this event possible (special thanks are due to the volunteers who helped on the day of the singing: Virginia Douglas, Roger Hall, Doron Henkin, June Matthews, Diane Mennella, Bruce Randall), the composer William Billings, near whose unmarked final resting place, according to received tradition, we were gathered; the late Hans Nathan, Karl Kroeger, Richard Crawford and other contributors to the William Billings Complete Works (published by the American Musicological Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts in 4 volumes, 1977-1990), the first complete critical edition of the works of any American composer; Karen Willard, who graciously allowed pages from her book An American Christmas Harp to be reproduced for this singing; and Boston Music Company, who provided cookies, fruit, and cold drinks for the singers during and after the singing at their nearby store.







William Billings - Father of American Choral Music



Singing Stoughton
and the William Billings Singing School




National Carry A Tune Week


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