While my research group for our Honors ID course over WWI was at The Old Mill Museum a couple weeks ago trying to find some useful things to help build our website about WWI and how it affected Bethany College, we stumbled over this little booklet containing many military-approved songs.
Me (being a music major,) was incredibly interested on why this book would have been issued, when it was used, and obviously, what songs were printed in it. Upon first glance it appeared that all the standard military songs were contained in the book, but what really peaked my interest was the amount of hymns and old Irish melodies with the pages, also.
It later made sense to me that the government would want to include in the book something that would be able to boost moral within the troops, and if that included hymns to boost spiritual moral, of old Irish folk songs that reminded some first generation songs of Irish Immigrants about the reason that their parents came to America in the first place, so be it.
Another surprise was that within the various patriotic and spiritual staples such as “America The Beautiful” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” that the book also contained national songs from our allies such as France, Italy, and Belgium. I was surprised to find that just one little pocket book could serve as an amazing example of why people fought. They fought for country, religion, freedom, and one another.