Musical Roots of the Elm City
Music for New Haven
Rev. Eleazar T. Fitch
An Anthem from Isaiah XXIV. 17-XXV. 1, 2
Composed for, and Sung at the Celebration of the Second Centennial Anniversary of the Settlement of New Haven: April 25th, 1838
Words selected by Rev. L. Bacon
(New Haven: William Storer, Jun., 1838)
In 1638, a group of Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay Colony established a new colony in what is now New Haven. Two hundred years later, the city’s celebration of its bicentenary featured this anthem, composed by the Rev. Eleazar T. Fitch (1791–1871), a professor of Divinity at Yale. The words were compiled from biblical sources by Leonard Bacon (1801–1881), pastor of the First Church of New Haven (now known as Center Church).
James M. Hubbard
New-Haven Gray’s Grand March
(New Haven: Lyman Baird, 1846)
The New Haven Grays were a local militia unit. Although militias had played an important role with the American Revolution (and are mentioned in the second amendment to the Constitution), by the middle of the 19th century, they were sometimes more ceremonial than military. Young men from New Haven’s most prominent families joined the Grays, participated in its formal exercises on the New Haven Green, and danced in its balls.
The New Haven Green can be seen in the background of this sheet music cover. The Greek-style building on the left is the state capitol; at that time, New Haven and Hartford were co-capitals of Connecticut, and the General Assembly moved back and forth between the two cities. Hartford became the sole capital in 1875, and the New Haven Statehouse was demolished in 1885.
“Edna from New Haven”
(Boston: Metcalf Music, c1908)
“Edna from New Haven” is an example of a type of song popular with Yale men of its era; it extols the charms of a local young lady. The lyrics of the chorus are: “Edna, Edna, Sweetheart of old college days, / ’Midst sorrows and joys my love for you forever stays. I’m coming home to you my dear and your laughing eyes of brown, / And then we will make our little home in New Haven town.”
Just a few years later, Cole Porter (Yale Class of 1913) put his characteristic spin on this genre with “Antoinette Birby,” a song that tells a decidedly less sentimental tale of a young woman from rural Derby (about ten miles to the northwest) who is lured by the bright lights of New Haven and its denizens, only to return home chastened after an unpleasant experience in the big city.