My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free

Album: not on an album (1788)
Play Video


  • The first song composed by an American is generally given as "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free", which is credited to Francis Hopkinson of Philadelphia (1737-91).

    In fact, it is not that simple; in the first place, the original Americans were not the Whites but the Red Man, various tribes of which have their own music which predates the Pilgrim Fathers. In the second place, this song was actually written as a poem by the Irishman Thomas Parnell (1679-1718) who never set foot on American soil.

    An early printing is held by the British Library in a collection at shelfmark G.305, wherein it is entitled "(Love and Innocence) A New SONG", in 6/8 time. Herein it is dated 1720. Christopher Scobie at the Music Enquiry Desk of the British Library clarified for us: "I have checked this score and the music in this setting of the words "My days have been so wondrous free", and they do not appear to be the same as Francis Hopkinson's. The poem was written by Thomas Parnell who lived 1679-1718, but it seems to be unclear as to who wrote the music for this version of the song. The dating of 1720 is only probable however, and could be a year or two either side of this."
  • Hopkinson set the original poem to music in 1759, but it was not published until 1788, in a collection of songs dedicated to George Washington, who was a personal friend. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Paul Williams

Paul WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

He's a singer and an actor, but as a songwriter Paul helped make Kermit a cultured frog, turned a bank commercial into a huge hit and made love both "exciting and new" and "soft as an easy chair."

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney Princesses

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

P.F. Sloan

P.F. SloanSongwriter Interviews

P.F. was a teenager writing hits and playing on tracks for Jan & Dean when he wrote a #1 hit that got him blackballed.