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MMD > Archives > August 2002 > 2002.08.17 > 02Prev  Next


"Climbing Up the Golden Stairs" & Salvation Army
By Richard Vance

Yesterday Mark Williamson inquired about Gem cob 115, "Climbing Up
the Golden Stairs".  I have that cob, and it is indeed a rousing tune.

But I think that the low number suggests that this cob was arranged
far earlier than 1895.  When issued, it was not as a hymn, but as the
original minstrel song of that title.

If you click on the Lester S. Levy sheet music collection:
http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/advancedsearch.html
and enter "climbing" as "title" in one of the search fields, you will
find:

  Title: Climbing up de Golden Stairs. The Famous Jubilee Song.
  Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: By F. Heiser.
  Publication: New York: T.B. Harms & Co., 819 Broadway, 1884.

You can read the very politically incorrect original lyrics.  The
notation closely matches my cob.

It is indeed irregular, the original metrical index being (verse)
777 777 787 888 (chorus) 7677.  Further confusion was added when
I researched the title on-line.  Country and Western stars of the
'twenties and 'thirties, like The Happy Four, as well as modern gospel
groups, have recorded the hymn, but to a different tune.  Believe me,
the original melody is better.

It was common for the Salvation Army to adapt good tunes from any
source, for their hymns.  I suspect that Commissioner Booth-Tucker
might have heard that tune on a street instrument, while he was
boarding the bus in 1895.

Richard Vance


(Message sent Sat 17 Aug 2002, 18:55:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Army, Climbing, Golden, Salvation, Stairs, Up

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