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Home Sweet Home

Score of Home Sweet Home

Home, Sweet Home is sung like a hymn but began life as a secular song. It's a song about the value of a good home. It's a story about somebody going away from home, roaming around, falling on hard times, and then going back home to get a soothing caress from mum and a fond smile from dad.

The co-authors of the song had pretty poor home lives and it's possible that they wrote this as a dream of what a home should be.

Hugely popular in 19th century America, then England, and was later one of the Western imports when Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world.

Japanese words were written with a religious, home-making theme, and it became one of several hymns sung at Western-style weddings in Japan

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Home Sweet Home

John Howard Payne (1791-1852)
John Howard Payne
(1791-1852)

The English words originated from the melodrama Clari, Maid of Milan (1823) which was written by an (itinerant) American, John Payne.

Sir Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855)
Sir Henry Rowley Bishop
(1786-1855)

Within that drama is the phrase 'home, sweet sweet home'. In 1852, Henry Bishop, not a successful home-maker himself, composed some music and collaborated with John Payne to produce the song shown below.

Henry Bishop was a noted and popular musician of the 19th century England; arranging, composing, and conducting opera. He was born on 18 November 1786 and his professional music career started at the age of twelve; selling music in Charing Cross. After a brief time training as a jockey at Newmarket stables in Suffolk, he began his music studies in London with Francisco Bianchi.

His first operatic work, Angelina, was performed at Margate when Henry was just 17 years old. This was followed by over one hundred other works including operas, burlettas, cantatas, and music arrangements to Shakespearean plays. He worked at several major West-End theatres including the Covent Garden Theatre, King's Theatre in Haymarket, Drury Lane and Vauxhall Gardens.

He became Professor of Music at London, Edinburgh (Reid Chair of Music) and Oxford. In 1842 Queen Victoria gave him a knighthood; the first musician to be honoured this way. He continued his work as Professor of Music at Oxford University until his death on 30 April 1855. He is buried in East Finchley Cemetery, London.

After a successful musical career (and two failed marriages), Henry Bishop is best remembered for the following song: 'Home, sweet home".

'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly, that came at my call
Give me them-and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the caress of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight 'mid new pleasure to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home,
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

In 1967 Shinji Iwamura wrote a new Japanese hymn to the melody. Roughly translated, the first verse is:

With God as the father of the home,
protecting and helping us grow in love,
and to build our home.
Home, sweet, sweet home.
Bless this home with love.

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'Home Sweet Home', written in 1852 by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop

Click on the music for a full score

Listen to the melody

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