Lincoln Farewell and Composer George F. Root

The work “Farewell Father, Friend and Guardian” was composed as a tribute to the late President Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated on Good Friday, April 9, 1865. The musical work “Farewell, Father, Friend, and Guardian,” commonly known as the “Lincoln Farewell” was written by George Frederic Root (music) and L. M. Dawn (words) and was debuted at President Lincoln’s funeral the next week.

Youtube Lincoln Farewell, (Youtube)

George F. Root

George Frederic Root was an American musician, composer and music educator. Root was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts on August 30, 1820 and spent his early days living in North Reading. By the age of thirteen he had already become accomplished in music, specifically excelling in piano. He moved to Boston in 1838 and became a member of Lowell Mason’s Boston Academy Chorus. While in Boston he organized The Nicholson Flute club composed of his flute students and other local musicians and taught at a singing school. He moved to New York in 1844 and for the next six years, Root directed classes in singing and in other aspects of music. In 1850 he went overseas to study music in Paris, Rome and London for five years, after which he returned to New York.

In 1853, he and composer William Bradbury were involved in the creation of the New York Normal Institute, created to train music teachers and teach music pedagogy. There he debuted his first cantata “The Flower Queen.” With the outbreak of the Civil War, Root devoted his talents to composing war music, for which is likely best known. He composed more than 30 war songs, including the very popular “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!,” “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” “The Vacant Chair,” “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and many others. During his long and celebrated career he composed about 180 songs, 75 complete cantatas, edited hymnals and musical instruction books. He collaborated with famed hymn composer and lyricist Fannie J. Crosby and many others in composing sacred music still found in hymnals. “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” uses the same melody that is credited to composer William Bradbury as “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

In 1858, Root’s older brother, Ebenezer Root, and C. M. Cady founded the music publishing firm of Root & Cady in Chicago. In 1860 Root became a partner of the firm and his duties included the selection and editing of compositions published by it. The firm suffered greatly in the Chicago fire of 1871, but Root continued to compose and edit music there for many more years.

This two line death notice from the Buffalo (NY) Courier below announced the passing of Dr. Root on August 6, 1895.

Dr. Root was buried at Harmony Vale Cemetery in North Reading, Massachusetts.

Just Before the Battle, Mother (Youtube)

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (Youtube)

Battle Cry of Freedom (Youtube)

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