Home! Sweet Home!
DESCRIPTION: "'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble there's no place like home." The singer yearns to return to that "lowly thatched cottage" which brings peace of mind
AUTHOR: John Howard Payne (c. 1791-1852); Music: possibly Sir Henry Bishop (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1823 (in the opera "Clara [or the Maid of Milan]")
KEYWORDS: home nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (17 citations):
Jackson-PopularSongsOfNineteenthCenturyAmerica, pp. 80-82, "Home! Sweet Home!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dean-FlyingCloud, p. 120, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text)
Gilbert-LostChords, p. 87, (no name; a partial text of a parody)
Krythe-SamplerOfAmericanSongs 3, pp. 40-61, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jolly-Miller-Songster-5thEd, #44, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #895, p. 60, "Home, Sweet Home" (2 references)
Emerson-StephenFosterAndCo, pp. 57-58, "Home! Sweet Home!" (1 text)
Heart-Songs, pp. 374-375, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fireside-Book-of-Folk-Songs, p. 52, "Home Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-SongsOfTheCivilWar, pp. 143-145, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 254, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, pp. 274-275, "Home! Sweet Home!"
ADDITIONAL: (no author listed), _The Vocal Companion_, second edition, D'Almaine and Co., 1837 (available from Google Books), p. 33, "Home! Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Aline Waites & Robin Hunter, _The Illustrated Victorian Songbook_, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1984, pp. 16-18, "Home! Sweet Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Michael R. Turner, _Victorian Parlour Poetry: An Annotated Anthology_, 1967, 1969 (page references are to the 1992 Dover edition), pp. 175-176, "Home, Sweet Home" (1 text)
Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, _Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889_, R. R. Bowker, 1941, pp. 39-41, offers some history of the song and a list of several dozen early printings; plate 9 shows the cover of the earliest sheet music
The Breaux Freres, "Home Sweet Home" [in Cajun French] (Vocalion 2961B, 1934; on AAFM2)
Eleanora de Cisneros, "Home, Sweet Home" (CYL: Edison (BA) 28145, 1913; on Protobilly)
Elizabeth Cotten, "Home Sweet Home" (on Cotten03)
Edward Franklin, "Home Sweet Home" (Columbia 44, 1901)
Frank Jenkins, "Home Sweet Home" (Silvertone 5080, 1927)
Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner, "Home Sweet Home" (Brunswick 475, 1930)
Margarethe Matzenauer, "Home, Sweet Home" (Pathe Actuelle 027519, n.d.)
McMichen's Melody Men, "Home Sweet Home" (Columbia 15288-D, 1928)
Don Reno, "Home, Sweet Home" (King 1474, 1955; on Protobilly)
Royal Hawaiians, "Home Sweet Home" (Broadway 8100, c. 1930)
DaCosta Woltz's Southern Broadcasters, "Home Sweet Home" (Supertone 9162, 1928)
Bodleian, Firth b.28(7a/b) View 7 of 8, "Home, Sweet Home" ("Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam"), R. March and Co. (London), 1877-1884; also Harding B 25(854), Harding B 11(1564), Firth c.17(40), Harding B 11(2341), Harding B 11(4032), "Home, Sweet Home"
LOCSheet, sm1851 490710, "Home, Sweet Home" ("'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam"), Firth, Pond and Co. (New York), 1851; also sm1851 670130, sm1852 510930, sm1852 692100, sm1883 17251, sm1883 21656, "Home, Sweet Home" (tune)
LOCSinging, as105460, "Home, Sweet Home," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859; also sb20169b, "Home, Sweet Home"
cf. "There Is No Place in the Height of Heaven" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The Song That Reached My Heart" (recalls this song)
cf. "Home, Sweet Home (Parody)" (lyrics, form)
Home, Sweet Home (Parody) (File: Brne152)
NOTES [497 words]: Krythe-SamplerOfAmericanSongs gives extensive notes on the career of John Howard Payne (1791-1852), actor, playwright, poet, minor American diplomat, expatriate, and man with absolutely no idea how to manage his affairs. This song was originally part of an operetta, "Clari, the Maid of Milan," which Payne sold for fifty pounds in 1823. (Rudin, p. 92, says the figure was 250 pounds. Given the way the music business worked back then, that in fact strikes me as a very good sum. Even fifty pounds isn't too bad.)
Jameson, p. 486, gives this biography of the lyricist:
Payne, John Howard (1792-1852), was an author and actor of considerable merit and fame at home and abroad. He is eminent as the author of "Home, Sweet Home," which he composed for his drama, "Clari, or the Maid of Milan." His renown as a song-poet was unsurpassed. He was U. S. Minister to Tunis from 1841 to 1845 [Tyler administration] and again from 1851 to his death [Fillmore administration].
Dichter and Shapiro, p. 39, note the curious fact that three different birth dates are cited for Payne (June 9, 1791; April 1, 1791; and June 8, 1792), and that he has three different death dates (between April 1 and April 10, 1852). Waites & Hunter add the interesting point that neither Payne nor Bishop "experienced the simple pleasures of home life"; Bishop was knighted but was "a noted reprobate, homewrecker and spendthrift," while Payne was too poor a businessman to really handle his own affairs.
Apparently these stories were widely exaggerated; Rudin, p. 91, reports popular accounts saying that "Payne often heard this song played in London, Paris, and other capitals of the world, while he himself wandered poor and unknown, with hardly a crust of bread to eat, and no place to lay his head." The obvious problem with a story like that is that destitute people would find it rather difficult to get to at least three European capitals, at least two of them separated by the English channel! (Although he did spend several decades in Europe, and was there when he wrote "Clari") Rudin, p. 92, points out that Payne "was never in actual want," and says that he was a friend of Washington Irving and Daniel Webster
The music to the opera "Clari" was by Henry Rowley Bishop. Some have questioned, however, whether he wrote the music for this particular song. It has been claimed that it is an old French tune. The 1823 sheet music cited by Dichter & Shapiro says that it is "Composed & partly founded on a Sicilian Air by Henry R. Bishop." (Nettel, p. 155, reconciles these accounts by saying Bishop wrote the tune, but separately from the opera, and published it in a book of national songs.)
The sheet music sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but of course none of the proceeds went to the composers. - RBW
Broadside LOCSinging as105460: J. Andrews dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 6.0
- Jameson: J. Franklin Jameson's Dictionary of United States History 1492-1895, Puritan Press, 1894
- Nettel: Reginald Nettel, Seven Centuries of Popular Song, Phoenix House, 1956
- Rudin: Cecilia Margaret Rudin, Stories of Hymns We Love, John Rudin & Company, 1934 (I use the fourteenth printing of 1951)
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.