New Hampshire: Where Every Composer Is A Winner

New Hampshire legislators must love music….

as demonstrated by our state having the unusual distinction of officially adopting NINE state songs. Yes, that’s correct.. count ’em —nine.

Granted, one of the songs is considered “the official state song” and the others are deemed “honorary.”

In 1941 and in 1943 the New Hampshire Legislature killed suggestions that the “Old New Hampshire” (written in 1926) be designated the official state song. Finally by 1949 (apparently the legislature got tired of saying no) it was adopted as the official song of the New Hampshire, but the choice was not “codified” in statutes until November 29, 1977.

Here is the “official” list….

Official NH State Song:
1. “Old New Hampshire”, (1926) words by Dr. John Franklin Holmes (1878-1955), music by Maurice Hoffman Jr. (1897-1982)
[See the lyrics and listen to the music — tell me if you’ve heard it!]

Honorary NH State Songs:
2. “New Hampshire, my New Hampshire” (1949) with words by Julius Richelson and music by Walter P. Smith.
3. “New Hampshire Hills” (1973) with words by Paul Scott Mowrer and music by Tom Powers.
4. “Autumn in New Hampshire” (1977) with words and music by Leo Austin.
5. “New Hampshire’s Granite State” (1977) with words and music by Anne B. Currier.
6. “Oh, New Hampshire (you’re my home)” (1977) with words and music by Brownie McIntosh.
7. “The Old Man of the Mountain” (1977) with words and music by Paul Belanger.
8. “The New Hampshire State March” (1977) with words and music by Rene Richards.
9. “New Hampshire Naturally” (1993) with words and music by Rick Shaw and Ron Shaw.

I looked at the list… and felt disappointed that the only one of these that I ever remember hearing is the last one… “New Hampshire Naturally,” back when it was being used to promote New Hampshire tourism.  Either the rest are not particularly memorable, or I didn’t realize what melody was being played when I heard it (no slight intended to the composers or their kin).

Other rousing patriotic songs which haven’t made the state’s list for one reason or another are:

The Bugle Quickstep (1850) by N. Barker, Exeter [sheet music]

My Old New Hampshire home (1898) by Harry Von Tilzer [samples, page 1 and 2 shown from The Granite Monthly, 1929].

Ain’t You Coming Back to New Hampshire, Molly? (1906) by Harry McDonough. my old nh home 1

When you dream of old New Hampshire, I dream of Tennessee my old nh home 2(1916) by George L. Cobb (1886-1942) [sheet music]

or even better yet… to go along with our “Live Free or Die” and John Stark influence….

“The Tomb of Stark” (1848) by I.B. Woodbury. [sheet music]

The sheet music to these last four songs can be found on American Memory. [Just search for the terms ‘New Hampshire music.’]

A word of advice to aspiring composers out there–since we already have nine songs, the New Hampshire state legislature might look favorably upon one of yours.  Go for it.. and good luck!


P.S.: The federal government could learn a valuable lesson from us. Having more than one “official” song is not necessarily a bad thing.


ADDENDUM: February 2007–Apparently some of New Hampshire’s school children are interested in adding another song to New Hampshire’s official song list, but they want it to be the “official” state song.  This one will honor John Stark. Here is the official New Hampshire history of the state song.

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One Response to New Hampshire: Where Every Composer Is A Winner

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire Tidbits: The Song “My Old New Hampshire Home” | Cow Hampshire

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