The Stoughton Musical Society's
Centennial Collection of Sacred Music

(Boston: Ditson & Company, 1878, 304 pages)

This is believed to be the largest collection of ealy American choral music published in 19th century New England, with 62 American and European composers represented.

It also includes a description of the first known singing contest held in America about 1790 and biographical descriptions of 26 New England composers at the back of the tunebook.

The New England composers with the most tunes are:

William Billings = 28 tunes
Daniel Read = 14 tunes
Oliver Holden = 11 tunes
Jacob Kimball = 10 tunes
Timothy Swan = 7 tunes
Jacob French = 6 tunes
Abraham Maxim = 5 tunes
Jeremiah Ingalls = 4 tunes


Sample page from the 1878 Centennial Collection
with DEVOTION by Daniel Read
CHESTER by William Billings


Also in this Centennial Collection are a few pieces by English composers (Calcott, Tans'ur, Stephenson) and several choral arrangements of music by Haydn, Mozart, and Naumann.



The music collection was reprinted by DaCapo Press in 1980, edited with a new introduction by musicologist, Roger L. Hall, describing how the collection was compiled, also with Corrigenda, Alphabetical Index of Titles, and an Index of First Lines.

This reprint is now out-of-print but may still be available through at this link:

The Stoughton Musical Society's Centennial Collection of Sacred Music

This reprint is a most welcome offering for anyone interested in examining our native musical heritage, particularly those concerned with the choral tradition...This volume should furnish hours of pleasant singing - useful in the church, the concert hall and home.

-- David P. McKay, from his review in The Hymn, July, 1982


Some of the tunes from the Stoughton Centennial Collection are available on this CD -- "Make a Joyful Noise": The New England Harmony.

Another collection used for many years by The Stoughton Musical Society and containing some of the same tunes as the Centennial Collection is titled,

Father Kemp's Old Folks Concert Tunes


Read more about The Stoughton Musical Society at these links:

Musick in Old Boston Concert

Music in Old New England, 1778-1878 (radio documentary)

New England Music Institute

Singing Stoughton

Stoughton Music Series

World's Columbian Exposition Concerts in Chicago



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