Richmond, IL: May 14, 1886.
In all, 6 pp. on ruled note paper. 12mo. Sewn, near fine. Item #246994
Bennett (1836-1898) composed the lyrics to what was to become one of America’s most well known hymns in 1861, with music by Joseph P. Webster. The account of its composition, in less than 30 minutes, is given in this manuscript “History”:
“… I said, ‘Webster, what is the matter now?’ ‘It’s no matter,’ he replied, ‘it will be all right by and by.’ The idea of the hymn came to me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied, ‘The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make a good hymn?’ ‘Maybe it would,’ he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn …”
“The Sweet By-and-By” was featured in the Academy Award winning film “Sergeant York”; Charles Ives used the tune in his Orchestral Set No. 2; it has become one of America‘s most reecognizable hymns.
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