“The Official Member Songbook of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the 1998 Centennial Edition of the “”Sinfonia Songs”” is a staple to all Sinfonians. The sixth edition of such publication, Sinfonia Songs represents the culmination of nearly seven years of research and work to produce the currently used “”Centennial Edition.”” Available as a hardbound collection, the official member songbook is provided as part of all new initiates’ materials. The following is an excerpt from A History of the Sinfonia Songbooks, written by T. Jervis Underwood (Gamma Theta), and edited by David R. Irving (Gamma Theta).
The first evidence that Sinfonians were interested in building a repertory of songs especially for their own use appeared in the Alpha Chapter minutes of October 7, 1901, which reported that a song with words by chapter member Hinton H. Jones, sung to the melody of “”How Can I Leave Thee”” by Cramer, was adopted as a chapter song. The minutes of November 11 and thereafter indicated that singing a song to open meetings became a chapter tradition. The use of a parting song to close the meeting was reported for the first time on January 20, 1902. There may have been two choices for a parting song. One was by William C. Stickles with words by H. A. Hill (found in the 1908 Songs of Sinfonia and in the 1905 Year Book without music). The other, with words by Ralph Howard Pendleton and set to a slightly different version of the same music, also appeared for the first time in 1908, arranged by Rudolph R. Willman. The latter has become the standard “”Sinfonia Parting Song.”” The first book of Sinfonia songs was published in 1908, under the title Songs of Sinfonia. The songbook committee, which had been appointed at the 1907 Convention, consisted of Horace Whitehouse (Alpha), chairman, Wilson T. Moog (Alpha) and Wilson H. Pile (Beta). The songbook was dedicated: “”To our Esteemed and honored Brother Hon. GEORGE B. CORTELYOU Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.”” There were forty-one songs (rather than the forty projected by Supreme Secretary Arthur W. Leet in his report in the 1908 Year Book), of which twenty-four were specifically about Sinfonia. Including Pendleton’s “”Sinfonia Parting Song,”” three songs from this first collection have been included in subsequent editions and are among the best-loved and most often sung; the other two are “”A Sinfonia Anthem”” by W. R. and Augustus 0. Palm ( their names are misspelled “”Pahn””) and “”The Red and Black,”” the adaptation of which is attributed to Epsilon Chapter. The song entitled “”On and Ever Upward”” ( words by Ben Harris and music by E. H. Keim) is different from the one with the same title in subsequent editions. Also included were two tantalizing glimpses into the earliest initiation ritual: “”Light Your Pipe”” by Ralph Howard Pendleton (reported in Alpha Chapter minutes of February 24, 1902 as “”Pendleton’s latest song”” and subtitled “”A ditty to be sung before the First Degree Initiation of Sinfonia Candidates””) and “”Hymn”” with words by W.R. Woodmansee and music by [Louis] Gottschalk, which is identified in parentheses: (For Ritual). The first verse of the latter is the one sung to music ascribed to Beethoven under the title “”Sinfonia Hymn”” that has been included in every edition of the songbook since 1914. Also, the first evidence of cat symbolism appeared with the inclusion of “”The Mystic Cat,”” with words by Percy Jewett Burrell and music by George Chadwick. There is no satisfactory explanation for the Mystic Cat in early Sinfonia tradition; the secrecy surrounding it was well-kept, but the song “”The Mystic Cat”” was included among the “”humorous songs”” in a list of song categories in the 1909 Year Book. The second edition of the Sinfonia songbook, entitled Sinfonia Songs, was published in 1914. The committee chosen at the 1914 Convention included Arthur Shepherd (Alpha), chairman, E Otis Drayton (Alpha), Edward J. Stringham (Iota) and Henry E. Meyer (Delta). Drayton was the only holdover from the committee appointed at the 1912 Convention, a committee which had failed to complete its assigned task. Drayton’s report to the Convention indicated that the songbook was dedicated to Ossian E. Mills, but the dedication is missing from the copy held at Lyrecrest. There were forty-five songs in this book, thirty-six of which speak of Sinfonia or Sinfonian themes. Included was one of the last clues to the Mystic Cat, a song entitled “”The Mystery,”” (words by Malcolm La Prade and music by Ernest La Prade) and subtitled “”A Sinfonia Nonsense Song.”” The version of “”On and Ever Upward,”” with words by Drayton and music by Peter C. Lutkin (Iota) that was included is the familiar one that has survived in all subsequent editions. Several reprints of the 1914 songbook, with a few changes, were issued before the revision of 1931. Efforts to date these reprints are hampered by the absence of any dates marked on the existing copies and by the lack of a complete file of copies. Particularly frustrating is the fact that the dating of the first appearance of “”Hail Sinfonia”” is tied to the missing dates; it was not included in the first copies in 1914 but does appear in the reprints. It is possible, however, to narrow the gap somewhat between 1914 and 1931. It is unlikely to have occurred before 1919. Charles E. Lutton, who wrote the words to “”Hail Sinfonia,”” was initiated into Iota Chapter in 1911, but did not become active on the national scene until 1919. Louis Victor Saar, who arranged the music (originally “”Hail Poetry”” from The Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan), was not made a national honorary member until the 1916 National Convention. And in any case, with the disruptions caused by World War I, no editorial revision of the songbook is likely to have taken place. “”Hail Sinfonia”” had already made its appearance by 1926; Lutton reported that new songbooks would be issued shortly after the 1926 National Convention with two new songs added (“”A Call to Sinfonia”” and “”Phi Mu Alpha Sweetheart Song”” [Xi Chapter] which are the last two songs in the book). These two songs are included in an existing copy of this 1926 reprint, which bears evidence that “”Hail Sinfonia”” had already been included (“”Hail Sinfonia”” is the first song in the book, the printing of the index has been manipulated to have the title inserted, and a song called “”Toast to Sinfonia”” (“”Wake the Silvery Echoes”” [Caspari/Harris)] has been omitted to adjust the pagination). Lutton, having gone to the trouble of announcing two new songs (only one of which had been adopted by the 1926 Convention) would surely have also announced “”Hail Sinfonia”” had it also been new. The most likely date for the first appearance of “”Hail Sinfonia”” is 1923; Lutton, in his report in the November, 1923 Sinfonian, promised that the “”songbooks will be in your hands shortly.”” This is the only reference in fraternity publications between 1914 and 1926 that suggests a revised publication. The 1926 reprint, incidentally, does indeed bear the dedication: “”To the Honored Founder of the Sinfonia Fraternity of America OSSIAN EVERETT MILLS this Song Book is gratefully dedicated.”” The 1931 songbook was once again entitled Sinfonia Songs (but with an internal title page reading Songs of Sinfonia Revised Edition of 1931). The members of the editorial committee were Peter W. Dykema (Phi), Clarence C. Birchard (Alpha) and Joseph Clokey (Alpha Theta). The book carried a dedication to Mills identical to the one in the 1914 edition.The preface says that this edition included twenty-six songs from the 1914 edition, six new Sinfonia songs contributed by members of the fraternity, and thirteen songs for general use. This last group was introduced in a footnote that thanked Clarence C. Birchard of C. C. Birchard & Company, which held the copyrights, for permission to use them without charge. The songbook was revised again in 1948, still under the title, Sinfonia Songs. Reference was made to the “”original edition of 1914,”” apparently because no one involved in the project was aware of the 1908 songbook (there is no mention in the 1914 edition of the 1908 songbook, other than its designation as the second edition). As stated in the preface, two National Conventions were given the opportunity to sing the songs being considered and to vote on them, and the committee had made the final choices. Fourteen songs were retained from the 1931 songbook, several of which were harmonized versions of songs that had originally been in unison. Nineteen new songs written by Sinfonians were added. The committee members were Harry Robert Wilson (Beta Gamma), chairman, Richard P. Reese (Alpha Theta), John Kinnison (Alpha Lambda), Harry Holmberg (Alpha Delta), Horace Bowman Jacobini (Alpha Phi) and George D. Cheney (Gamma Phi). The dedication page read: “”To PETER W. DYKEMA in appreciation of his great service to the Sinfonia Fraternity of America this Song Book is gratefully dedicated.”” The Diamond Anniversary edition, entitled Sinfonia Songs (1898-1973), was actually copyrighted in 1972. The Foreword informs us that the choices for this edition were based in part upon a questionnaire that was distributed to all the chapters in 1970. Once again, the 1914 songbook was referred to as the “”original”” edition. The Diamond Anniversary edition retained thirty-three songs from 1948. As was the case with earlier revisions, there were new contributions: five songs commissioned from Robert Washburn (Theta Iota), one from Ross Hastings (Alpha Alpha) and a setting by J. Clifton Williams (Beta Omega) of the trio to his march The Sinfonians with words by Alan Adams (Theta Iota). The committee that prepared this edition was not identified in the book, but the October 1972 Sinfonian carried an article announcing the new edition and naming the committee: Jack L. Lyall (Beta Gamma), chairman, James Burk (Delta Zeta), and Bruce Smedley (Gamma Psi). Preparation for the Centennial Edition of the Songbook was begun in March of 1990 with the appointment of a committee consisting of Paul A. Turner (Kappa Omicron ’85), chairman, Rolland Shaw (Theta Kappa ’59) and Phil Schroeder (Beta Pi ’85). This committee formulated a series of recommendations for the general contents of the new songbook:
- Current Sinfonia fraternal songs
- Songs related to Sinfonia, selected from old editions of Sinfonia Songs
- Solicited submissions from fraternity members
The final recommendation from this committee was that the National Executive Committee to be elected at the 1991 National Assembly appoint an editorial committee with a broad base of membership from the fraternity, the music publishing industry and professional composers, to select and prepare for publication not only a new songbook, but other musical publications as well. The 1991-1994 National Executive Committee responded by appointing a committee consisting of Curtis Shirley (Epsilon Upsilon ’79), chairman, Sandy Feldstein (Theta Iota ’60), Lawrence Burnett (Pi Chi ’70), Robert Ross (Rho Upsilon ’72) and Emile Serposs (Beta Gamma ’44). This committee met and formulated plans for soliciting new material for the songbook. It also compiled a master list of the songs in all previous songbooks (including the 1908 edition), as a basis for determining the best choices from the older editions without being influenced by the opinions of previous committees. The committee was unaware of the different versions of the 1914 songbook and did not include the song “”Wake the Silvery Echoes”” on the master list. As the 1994 National Assembly approached, the NEC decided to dismiss this committee so that the Executive Committee to be elected in 1994 could choose its own committee. In the wake of the Assembly, the National Executive Committee appointed Rolland Shaw, chairman, Leigh Soufas (Delta Sigma ’87) and Nathan Kling (Iota Gamma ’93) to the Centennial Songbook committee, and reappointed Lawrence Burnett and Robert Ross. An interesting bit of songbook history trivia is that Rolland Shaw (chairman of the Centennial Songbook committee), was a student of Jack L. Lyall (chairman of the Diamond Anniversary songbook committee), who was a student of Harry Robert Wilson (chairman of the 1948 songbook committee), who was a student of Peter W. Dykema (chairman of the 1931 songbook committee). This lineage is symbolic of the role that the “”elder Brother”” plays in the passing of fraternity tradition from generation to generation.