Upon this both solemn and happy Occasion of the Anniversary of our Independence, Colonial Revelers is pleased to perform Music by Mr. William Billings at St. Matthews United Methodist Church of Valley Forge on July Fourth, at half past nine in the Morning.
Mr. William Billings grew up in Boston, poor and uneducated, untidy in dress, described by some as a gargoyle, due to a short leg, a withered arm, and one blind eye. He became a tanner, yet also took up music at a young age and taught choral singing by the age of 22.
At age 24, he published "The New-England Psalm-Singer," a collection of choral works, and the first book of entirely American music. His friend Paul Revere engraved the book's frontispiece. Five more volumes followed. Within 30 years, Mr. Billings's music had become vastly popular and he was able to earn his bread and butter as a composer, the first American to do so.
His music combines traditional sacred hymn and classical styles, the new American choral-singing movement, and his own political fervor. His hymn "Chester" was considered the original National Anthem.
Your humble servants,