Colonial Harmonist

Colonial Harmonist. Title of the first sacred music collection, indeed the first music of any kind, apart from two pages of bugle calls in 1830, known to have been published in Upper Canada (Ontario).

Colonial Harmonist

Colonial Harmonist. Title of the first sacred music collection, indeed the first music of any kind, apart from two pages of bugle calls in 1830, known to have been published in Upper Canada (Ontario). Published at Port Hope in 1832, the 288-page volume was, according to the title page, a 'Compilation of the Most Approved Tunes, Anthems, and Chants. With a Figured Bass for the Organ and Piano Forte. Designed For All Denominations of Christians,'. The music is set in four parts with figured bass notation beneath the bass voice. Its compiler and publisher was Mark Burnham, a merchant who had arrived in Canada from New Hampshire in 1812. However, Burnham was not the first to tackle the task; Alexander Davidson, also of Port Hope, had advertised in the York Colonial Advocate in 1829 his intention of compiling such a selection, but his Sacred Harmony did not appear until 1838.

Calderisi assumes that Colonial Harmonist may have been printed in the USA. Copies of it are preserved at the National Library of Canada, McGill University the Library of Congress and the Newberry Library. Farquharson reproduces the title and several other pages. CMH vol 5 reproduces the title page and 11 tunes.


Further Reading

  • Craik, W.A. Port Hope Historical Sketches (Port Hope 1901)

    Farquharson, Dorothy H. O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing (Waterdown, Ont 1983)

    Fleming, Patricia. Upper Canadian Imprints, 1801-1841, a Bibliography (Toronto, Ottawa 1988)

    Music Publishing in the Canadas