Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 2) >> Simms's Musical Settings >> Page 6

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Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription 6
vocal lines. The highly decorated melody of the song is first presented in the
piano part's eight-measure introduction. When the text begins, the piano assumes
a strictly accompanimental role.

OTHER ANTEBELLUM SETTINGS OF POETRY BY SIMMS

"I Defy Thee to Forget" [Example 3] by Francis Kinloch was first
published by Firth & Hall of New York in 1846 and also by John P. Beile of
Charleston. While this song is not in the Songs of the South series, Kinloch did
provide music for four of the songs in that series, each for voice and guitar, as is
this one. "I Defy Thee to Forget" obviously retained some degree of popularity
past its date of publication, as it is listed in the Board of Music Trade Catalogue
at 15 cents as late as 1870, nearly a quarter century after it first appeared.
Simms's signed poem was first published in the Southern Literary
Magazine in December 1839. The three-stanza text deals with two young lovers.
who have been separated unwillingly, possibly by their families. The man is
addressing the woman throughout the poem and challenges her to forget what they
have felt. Kinloch uses text painting on the words "by my fond prayers and by
thy free replies" in the fifth line of the first verse by using a repeated note whic
sounds like a litany. The composer uses a simple harmonic accompaniment for
the entire song.
"Oh! Welcome Ye the Stranger" [Example 4] was published in Godey's
Lady's Book in July 1848. Immediately below the song title appears the
following: "Words by W. Gilmore Simms, Esq. - Music by Julian Cramer. Both
written expressly for Godey's Lady's Book."
Each monthly issue of Godey's Lady's Book featured a piece of music.
Prior to the War Between the States, Godey's had the most widespread readership
of any magazine in America. The aim of Godey's was not only entertainment, but
also instruction to readers "on the behavior appropriate to the ideal woman."19
A characteristic nineteenth-century American idea was that a musician was a
person of foreign birth, a woman, or an effeminate man. The images of musicians
as seen in illustrations and stories in Godey's perpetuated this attitude. Julian
Cramer, the music editor of Godey's and composer of the musical setting of "Oh!
Welcome Ye the Stranger" had a daytime job in a counting house in Philadelphia
and composed music in the evenings. The issue of March 1850 of Godey's
featured his portrait and a rather tongue-in-cheek article on him. (The Courier,
interestingly, did not seem to promote these stereotypes of the musician.)
Turning to the text, we find that Simms's poem deals with a very Southern
theme --- hospitality. Each of the poem's three stanzas begins with the words of
the poem's title. The first stanza asks the listener to imagine himself a stranger
in a foreign land. The second stanza reminds the hearer that a stranger visiting
his land will feel homesick, too. The third stanza speaks of the similarities
between their two homes.
As the song was intended for the use of the amateur singer and pianist in