[By the waters, the waters of Babylon]

Composer (attributed to): William Billings

William Billings (b. 1746; d. 1800) was an American choral composer, thought by some to be the father of American choral music. His father died when William was 14, and he was forced to drop all formal education and take up tanning to get by. With no formal musical training he began to compose, and his songs were well-loved and traveled quickly. However, due to unsubstantial copyright laws, Billings received hardly a penny from the publication of his music. After a period of fame and prosperity, his music was forgotten, and his last decade was one of decline. Married with six children, he died in poverty, though his music would be resurrected after his death and sung to this day. Laura de Jong Go to person page >

Tune Information

Title: [By the waters, the waters of Babylon]
Composer (attributed to): William Billings
Incipit: 17656 76545 654
Key: a minor
Source: Traditional Jewish melody.


Organ Solo

  • The Organist's Companion Volume 18 Number 2 January 1996 General, Lent, Holy Week, Funerals: A Bi-monthly Journal of Quality Organ Music for the Practical Church Musician
    Composer/Editors Wayne Leupold; Daniel Burton
    Published By: McAfee Music Corporation (1996) pp. 30
  • The Organist Volume 86 Number 3 July 1982: A Bi-monthly Magazine for Church Organists
    Composer/Editors Edward Broughton; George Blake
    Published By: Lorenz Publishing Company (1982) pp. 43
  • The Sacred Organ Folio No. 22
    Composer/Editor Sigfrid Karg-Elert
    Published By: Lorenz Publishing Company (1980) pp. 62
  • The Organ Portfolio Volume 37 Number 2 December 1973: A Bi-Monthly Anthology for Church Organists
    Composer/Editors Lani Smith; Lionel Lackey
    Published By: Lorenz Publishing Company (1973) pp. 46
  • The Organist Volume 71 Number 4 September 1967: A Bi-monthly Magazine for Church Organists
    Composer/Editors Roger C. Wilson; Robert Wolf
    Published By: Lorenz Publishing Company (1967) pp. 28


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