Friendship (to every willing mind)

Nov 19, 2013 by

221b FRIENDSHIP is one of the few folk melodies in A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony that has a well known, secular source—it was written by George Frederick Handel for his 1736 opera Atalanta.  Sometime in the sixty years after its first performance, the melody acquired English words that are attributed to a “Mr. Bidwell, of Connecticut” in the American Musical Miscellany (1789).  As far as I know, the tune was first published with this text under the title THE BRITISH MUSE in a two-part arrangement in the Select Songster (1786).  Here are a few different versions I’ve collected:

Handel_Friendship

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Chorus “Viva la face, viva l’amor!” from Atalanta, 1736.  This is probably the most interesting arrangement to sing because it’s so different from the style of the subsequent “folk” versions. I’ve transposed it down from the original key of D major and set it in shape notes, but kept the melody in the top part—a true soprano.

MIDI

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American Musical Miscellany, 1789.  The version of FRIENDSHIP in this small book of mostly secular songs and melodies inspired the arrangement on 221b of the Shenandoah.  I changed the bass slightly and wrote an alto and treble part.

MIDI

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SKH054_Friendship

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A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, 1820.  This four-part arrangement is attributed to Cook.  Yes, the alto ends the song on the sixth degree (la) of the scale!  I’m guessing this was a printer’s mistake, especially since the corresponding phrase ends with the fifth degree (sol) earlier in the song.

MIDI

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The Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist, 1846 (based on the arrangement in Wyeth’s Repository, Part II, 1813).  The bass in this setting is almost identical to Wyeth’s; the treble is a simplification of the Wyeth’s treble, which had some difficult leaps. This arrangement is also in the Christian Harmony, with an added alto.

Link to facsimile: http://www.hymnary.org/text/friendship_to_every_willing_mind

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