Rosalie the Prairie Flower
DESCRIPTION: "On the distant prairie, where the heather wild In its quiet beauty lived and smil'd," beautiful Rosalie lives in a little cottage. "But the summer faded, and a chilly blast O'er that happy cottage swept." She dies and is carried to heaven in a white robe
AUTHOR: Words: Frances Jane Crosby? George F. Root? / Music: "G. F. Wurzel" (George F. Root) (Sourece: Mudcat notes; Duke University broadside; Agay)
EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (source: Mudcat notes)
KEYWORDS: death beauty home
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
BrownSchinhanV 717, "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #2032, p. 137, "Rosalie the Prairie Flower" (6 references)
LOCSheet, M1642.M, "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower" (John C. Schreiber & Son, Macon and Savannah, N.D.)
Lonely Round the Portals ("Lonely round the portals Of the College halls, In the fading twilight Soft that falls") (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 40)
NOTES: George F. Root sometimes used the pseudonym "Wurzel" because "Wurzel" is German for "Root." He wrote in his autobiography, "I saw at once that mine must be the 'people's song,' still, I am ashamed to say, I shared the feeling that was around me in regard to that grade of music [i.e. that it was beneath him]. When Stephen C. Foster's wonderful melodies (as I now see them) began to appear, and the famous Christy's Minstrels began to make them known, I 'took a hand in' and wrote a few, but put 'G. Friedrich Wurzel" (the Germen for Root) to them instead of my own name. 'Hazel Dell' and "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower' were the best known of those so written" (Root, p. 83).
The lack of a "name" composer didn't hurt the song's sales; Finson, p. 87, says that "Rosalie" sold more than a hundred thousand copies.
Regarding the author of the words, I observe that Root, p. 237, lists only "Wurzel (G. F. R.)."
The sheet music I have found is unhelpful. I would assume that the earliest copies would have only the name "Wurzel" on them, and the only such that I have found says "Poetry and Music by Wurzel" -- but the next one I've found, which says it is sung by the Christy Minstrels, says it was "COMPOSED by Wurzel," not "WRITTEN and compused by Wurzel." But Crosby is not mentioned on either.
Curiously, "The Hazel Dell," the second song Root listed as a well-known piece by Wurzel, is also credited to Crosby on her Wikipedia page!
For background on possible author Fanny Crosby van Alstyne, see the notes to "A Few More Marchings Weary." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
- Finson: Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994
- Root: George F. Root, The Story of a Musical Life, 1891; I use the 1970(?) Da Capo reprint
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