Spirit & Heritage In Song – ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ – 1852


Spirit & Heritage In Song is a series highlighting Traditional American Music.

In the last half century many of these traditional songs have been forgotten in the crush of contemporary music and international cultural influences. Yet these songs, ballads, melodies and hymns reflect the events, cultural backgrounds, aspirations, land and faith that make up the soul of the American People far more than the strains of moderne music that have washed upon the nation’s shores. This series is offered as a reminder of the Spirit of America as given voice in music.


Plow & Hearth


My Old Kentucky Home

The Daniel Boone National Forest. Wikipedia

“My Old Kentucky Home” is a minstrel song by Stephen Foster (1826-1864), probably composed in 1852. It was published as “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night” in January 1853 by Firth, Pond, & Co. of New York. The song was introduced by Christy’s Minstrels the same year.

Foster allegedly composed the song after visiting a relative’s home at Bardstown, Kentucky called Federal Hill, but scholars have discounted the allegation. Richard Jackson believes Foster took inspiration from Harriett Beecher Stowe’s 1851 bestseller Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Foster’s sketchbook, the song was titled “Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night” and each verse ended with the line “Den poor Uncle Tom, good night.” Jackson describes the song as “one of [Foster’s] most appealing nostalgia pieces”. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass thought the song stimulated “the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish.”

“My Old Kentucky Home” became the official state song of Kentucky on March 19, 1928 by an act of the Kentucky legislature.

Source Wikipedia




See other songs of the American Spirit in History and at Music


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Abraham Lincoln Birthplace near Hodgenville - Wikipedia

Words and Music by: Stephen C. Foster

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home
‘Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day;
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy, and bright,
By’n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!


Weep no more, my lady,
Oh weep no more today!

Narrow country roads bounded by stone and wood plank fences are a fixture in the Kentucky Bluegrass region. Wikipedia

We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away.

They hunt no more for the ‘possum and the coon,
On meadow, the hill and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by that old cabin door;
The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight;
The time has come when the people have to part,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!


The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the people may go;
A few more days and the trouble all will end

Kentucky's Inner Bluegrass region features hundreds of horse farms. Wikipedia

In the field where sugar-canes may grow;
A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, ’twill never be light,
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!


From Kentucky Revised Statutes Annotated, Chapter 2.100: “LRC Note: The modern version of ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ was adopted during the 1986 Regular Session of the General Assembly by the House of Representatives in House Resolution 159 and the Senate in Senate Resolution 114.


See HERE for other U.S. State Songs, and HERE for U.S. State Songs, Animals, Birds, Gems, Flowers, Plants and More.


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