Home, Sweet Home (Bishop & Payne, 1823)

John Howard Payne’s lyrics, from the 1823 opera, “Clari, Maid of Milan”:


The above songsheet is an adaptation we created for the Hardtacks Civil War SONGSTER, drawing from an original (undated) songsheet from US Library of Congress:

‘Mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
A charm from the skies, seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.

Home, home, sweet, sweet home,
There’s no place like home.

I gaze on the moon, as I trace the drear wild,
And feel that my parent now thinks of her child;
She looks on that moon from our own cottage door,
Through woodbines whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.

Home, home, sweet, sweet home, &c.

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain,
O, give me my lowly, thatched cottage again;
The birds singing gaily that came at my call,
Give me them with the peace of mind, dearer than all.

Home, home, sweet, sweet home, &c.

and appending some extra verses from this 1880 printed edition:

How sweet ’tis to sit ‘neath a fond father’s smile.
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight ‘mid new pleasures to roam,
But give, oh ! give me the pleasures of home !

Home! home! sweet, sweet home &c.

To thee I’ll return, overburdened with care:
The heart’s dearest solace will smile on me there.
No more from that cottage again will I roam :
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

Home! home! sweet, sweet home &c.

The 1880 edition also gives us the following background and description of the song:

THE author of “Home, Sweet Home,” [John Howard Payne] was born in the city of New York, June 9, 1791, and died at Tunis April 9, 1852. Among the many compositions of which he was the author was an opera entitled “Clari, the Maid of Milan.” The music was composed by Sir Henry Bishop, and includes many beautiful melodies. The heroine’s principal song is the subject of this volume — “Home, Sweet Home.” Mr. Payne relates that when he was travelling in Italy he heard a peasant woman singing a sweet and tender air, which made an instant impression on his mind. He induced the woman to repeat it until he could write down the notes. With the melody and the measure in mind he wrote the song, and then gave it to the composer, who retouched the notation and furnished appropriate harmony…

This is an instance in which fit music is truly “married to immortal verse.” Whoever notices the changes will observe that the pressure of the musical form was of advantage to the poem. The redundant lines were excluded, and excrescences were pruned away. The poem was a native diamond at the beginning : as it stands now, it is a jewel cut and set with perfect art, and “on the forefinger of Time sparkles forever.”

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