Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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TRAGEDY
97
pattern. Many of his melodic ideas are worthy of better treatment, had he been able to handle them with greater skill. But even in these miserable days when he was drawing deeper and deeper into the shadow, now and then the pure ray of his early inspiration shines out in a melody as fresh and innocent as the clear voice of a child. Such are "Little Belle Blair" and "Nell and I" (1861), and "Jenny June" and "Katy Bell" (1863).
A few of the songs refer to the war, but they are among the poorest and were evidently produced in a vain effort to find the way to the public purse, rather than to the public heart.
In 1863 Stephen wrote twenty-nine songs for "The Atheneum Collection of Hymns and Tunes for Church and Sunday School Use," published by Horace Waters. Most of these "hymns" are feeble little tunes, undis­tinguished by either beauty or force of character. As a writer of Sunday-School hymns, Stephen Foster was not superior to his contemporaries whose very names are now forgotten. Several songs in the Atheneum Collection were reprinted later in similar volumes, and some of his best-known melodies were fitted to sacred (?) words. "Hard Times Come Again No More" was converted to "Sorrow Shall Come Again No More"; a Sunday-School hymn-book published in 1903 has a song, "Heaj the Gentle Voice of Jesus," set to Foster's "Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground," and another hymn, "Our Shepherd True," set to "Swanee River." Another book has the melody of "Old Black Joe" with the words "Long from my heart the world and all its charms."
During the early part of his life in New York, Stephen received a visit from his former sweetheart, Susan Pent-land, to whom he had dedicated his first published song, "Open Thy Lattice, Love." She was now Mrs. Robin-on, and her son, John W. Robinson of Pittsburgh, remembers the trip to New York with his parents and the meeting with Stephen Foster. The exact date is







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