13 Incredible Facts about the “Happy Birthday” Song You Never Knew

We keep singing the song the world over without even wondering how and where this actually originated. The familiar happy birthday to you is a universal song for every birthday. The Happy Birthday to You English song is one of the world’s most frequently sung songs thereby making it a 122 years old preserved song. Did you even know that it had an interesting origin? However, here are some interesting facts about this lovable song that you may have never heard about.

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1 The “Happy Birthday to You” was originally composed as “Good Morning to All” in the year 1893

It is indeed a fact that the “Happy Birthday to You” song originated from the tune of the “Good Morning to All” song that was composed by Patty Smith Hill and her oldest sister Mildred Jane Hill. Patty was a kindergarten teacher and principal in Louisville, Kentucky, while her sister was a composer and pianist. The lyrics of their song went like this:

  • Good morning to you,
  • Good morning to you,
  • Good morning dear children,
  • Good morning to all

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2The sisters were working on a larger project and this song was a part of it

The project which featured this song was meant for creating simple music which could be catered to the limited abilities of children. To help even the youngest of the children to learn songs with ease, the sister’s workshopped song’s on Patty’s class. While Patty wrote the words, Mildred set them to melodies. Good Morning to All was published in 1893 in their book Song Stories for the Kindergarten. The sisters in this regards loved simple, shareable sentiments.

Image Source: nyt.com

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3The origins of the lyrics of the Happy Birthday song are unclear

The “Happy Birthday to You” (HBTY) song first appeared in apiano manufacturer’s 1912 songbook with the same GMTA tune. The sisters were not aware of this at all. It again appeared in the Hall & McCreary Company’s 1915 “The Golden Book of Favorite Songs”, and once again in the Robert H. Coleman’s 1924 Harvest Hymnsin which was around 8 years after Mildred passed away.

In 1931 the song cropped up in the Broadway musical “The Band Wagon” in 1931. After two years, in the musical “As Thousands Cheer”, Patty along with Mildred’s sister, Jessica took legal action. However, in 1934 and 1935, after obtaining the blessing of the Hill family, the Clayton F. Summy Co. published and copyrighted all six versions of HBTY, and credited Patty and Mildred as the authors.

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4Scholars suggest that the tune may be derived from other 19th-century works

GMTA has been compared by scholars to the piano company founder Horace Waters’ “Happy Greetings to All” (1858), as well as “Good Night to All” (1858), “A Happy New Year to All” (1875), and many more.

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