World War I-era sheet music

Items of the week, for you music lovers: World War I-era sheet music.

The copies we have digitized include hits like “When the War is Over, Will There Be Any Home Sweet Home?” and more.

Sheet music from the World War I era titled “After the War is Over, Will There Be Any ‘Home Sweet Home’?” copyright 1917. Northfield Historical Society collection. See it on the Collaborative.

The lyrics offer great hints on how Americans felt about war service. For example, the song titled “America He’s For You!” by Andrew B. Sterling offers a mother’s perspective on sacrificing her sons to the war cause:

[Verse 1]
This is just another story of a mother and three sons,
How she gave them to Old Glory like a million other ones
And when she sits alone at night to pray,
These are the words that mother has to say:

[Chorus]
One bears a gun, and is beating back the Hun on the banks of the River Marne
The next oldest brother will fight just like the other whatever battlefield he’s on,
The third makes his stand out in No Man’s Land Just like the other two,
There’s a baby in the cradle and as soon as he is able America he’s for you.

[Verse 2]
Tho’ they may return with Glory and the cross each hero wears,
There may be another story of the cross that mother bears
With beating heart she heard her country call,
She did not give them one, she gave them all:

[Chorus]
One bears a gun, and is beating back the Hun on the banks of the River Marne
The next oldest brother will fight just like the other whatever battlefield he’s on,
The third makes his stand out in No Man’s Land Just like the other two,
There’s a baby in the cradle and as soon as he is able America he’s for you.

While appearing to support the war effort, this song also hints at some disquiet in terms of offering children up to fight and die while leaving their families behind. In any case, you can see the Northfield Historical Society’s set of sheet music (and play along!) here on the Collaborative today!

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