Liberty Bell - SATB


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  • Liberty Bell

    Liberty Bell is a setting of the traditional poem, "Independence Bell," author unknown, for SATB choir, with a lively piano accompaniment and robust violin solo. Wonderful for patriotic settings of all kinds. Your choir will love it.

    Because it is strophic in nature, this song can also just be sung to the basic tune for use in school classrooms when learning about the Liberty Bell.

    The poem tells the story of the old bell keeper who rings the bell when the Continental Congress votes in favor of Independence. It is sometimes known as "Ring! Grandpa, Ring!" because it is the old man's young grandson who gives him the sign to ring the bell for liberty. (See "Lyrics" tab for full text, and "Credits" tab for more history of this story.)

    A midi sample is given with guitar sounds as voices. See full lyrics in Lyrics tab.


    • Sheet music: SATB, piano, and violin (PDF download in .zip file)
    • Sheet music: SATB parts only (PDF download in .zip file)
    • Sheet music: violin part (PDF download in .zip file)
    • Print License for 1 copy of each PDF
    • Optional: Print licenses for more copies (see above)
  • Lyrics

    Text: "Independence Bell," author unknown
    Music by: Cathy Neff (ASCAP)

    There was a tumult in the city
    In the quaint old Quaker town,
    And the streets were rife with people
    Pacing restless up and down–
    People gathering at corners,
    Where they whispered each to each,
    And the sweat stood on their temples
    With the earnestness of speech.

    As the bleak Atlantic currents
    Lash the wild Newfoundland shore,
    So they beat against the State House,
    So they surged against the door;
    And the mingling of their voices
    Made the harmony profound,
    Till the quiet street of Chestnut
    Was all turbulent with sound.

    “Will they do it?” “Dare they do it?”
    “Who is speaking?” “What’s the news?”
    “What of Adams?” “What of Sherman?”
    “Oh, God grant they won’t refuse!”
    “Make some way there!” “Let me nearer!”
    “I am stifling!” “Stifle then!
    When a nation’s life’s at hazard,
    We’ve no time to think of men!”

    So they surged against the State House,
    While all solemnly inside,
    Sat the Continental Congress,
    Truth and reason for their guide,
    Over a simple scroll debating,
    Which, though simple it might be,
    Yet should shake the cliffs of England
    With the thunders of the free.

    Far aloft in that high steeple
    Sat the bellman, old and gray,
    He was weary of the tyrant
    And his iron-sceptered sway;
    So he sat, with one hand ready
    On the clapper of the bell,
    When his eye could catch the signal,
    The long-expected news to tell.

    See! See! The dense crowd quivers
    Through all its lengthy line,
    As the boy beside the portal
    Hastens forth to give the sign!
    With his little hands uplifted,
    Breezes dallying with his hair,
    Hark! with deep, clear intonation,
    Breaks his young voice on the air.

    Hushed the people’s swelling murmur,
    Whilst the boy crys joyously;
    “Ring!” he shouts, “Ring! Grandpapa,
    Ring! oh, ring for Liberty!”
    Quickly, at the given signal
    The old bellman lifts his hand,
    Forth he sends the goods news, making
    Iron music through the land.

    How they shouted! What rejoicing!
    How the old bell shook the air,
    Till the clang of freedom ruffled,
    The calmly gliding Delaware!
    How the bonfires and the torches
    Lighted up the night’s repose,
    And from the flames, like fabled Phoenix,
    Our glorious liberty arose!

    That old State House bell is silent,
    Hushed is now its glamorous tongue;
    But the spirit it awakened
    Still is living—ever young;
    And when we greet the smiling sunlight
    On the fourth of each July,
    We will never forget the bellman
    Who, between the earth and sky,
    Rung out, loudly, “Independence”;
    Which, please God, shall never die!

    Music ©2015 Cathy Neff. All rights reserved.

  • Credits

    The poem "Independence Bell," by an unknown author, recounts the story of the Liberty Bell being rung on July 4, 1776, when the Continental Congress voted for liberty. The same account is told in prose form in a story called "The Fourth of July, 1776," (popularly known as "Ring! Grandfather, Ring!") from Legends of the American Revolution, 1847, by George Lippard who was an American writer contemporary to, and friends with, Edgar Allan Poe.


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