Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein gehöret Anna Honspergerin Sing schuler in der birckenseher Schule geschrieben d 3ten Merz im Jahr Anno Domi[ni] 1814

Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein gehöret Anna Honspergerin Sing schuler in der birckenseher Schule geschrieben d 3ten Merz im Jahr Anno Domi[ni] 1814

Item Info

Item No: frkm037000
Title: Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein gehöret Anna Honspergerin Sing schuler in der birckenseher Schule geschrieben d 3ten Merz im Jahr Anno Domi[ni] 1814
Creation Date: 3/3/1814
Scripts/Text: Fraktur; German script; Roman script
Language: German; English
Physical Description: 40 p; 18mo; oblong format
Material: paper wrapper; laid paper; water color; red & black ink; thread
Watermark: Letter fragment [P I ?]; inner margins at head; p. 33
Category: Tune Booklet (Notenbüchlein)
Media Type: Manuscripts
Source: Rare Book Department

Accompanying Materials Laid or Tipped In:

  • Wove paper: ANNA HONSPERGERIN | SINGING STUDENTBIRDENSEHER SCHULE | WRITTEN MARCH 3, 1814; 37 in a circle; 12 in a square; 1814
  • Non-acidic paper fragment: A typed notice Exhibited: Spring, 1995


Paper wrapper

Biographical Note:

David Kulp (1777-1834), formerly known as the Bucks County Brown Leaf Artist, studied under Johann Adam Eyer (1755-1855) from 1782-1786, and like him became a school teacher. He taught at the Deep Run and Plumstead schools from 1801 to ca. 1819. Kulp had a copybook that he kept from 1806-1822, and challenged anyone to exceed his writing skills: “David Kulp, his hand and pen, Beet [sic] it if you can.” As a Fraktur artist and penman, he designed and wrote with controlled architectural precision, but never lost the natural artistic flow of the work.

Full Title Translation:

This Harmonious Tune Booklet belongs to Anna Honspergerin Singing Scholar in the Perkasie School Written 3rd of March in the Year of Our Lord 1814


N. B. See also FLP B-12.

N. B. See Borneman Ms. 33 (FLP B-1050) for a similar title page.

Physical Description:

[1-2] 3 [4] 5-25 [26] 27-29 [30-40]

Scope and Content:

This tune booklet was made for Anna Honsperger by her teacher David Kulp on March 3, 1814 while she was a student and singing scholar at the Perkasie School in Hilltown Township, Bucks County. Her name appears in the upper right corner of the front fly leaf in German script. There is no rudimentary musical instruction included in this booklet.

The same hand has numbered and entered the first 58 hymn titles and music incipits with a format of four to a page from pages 5 to 19. All are in the soprano clef with key signature given. No time signature is recorded; signs are indicated where text and melody are to repeat. Notes appear in whole and half note values. Almost no ornamentation is included. When a squiggle appears at the end of a stave, it indicates that both hymn text and melody continue.

Beginning at page 20 entries of 36 unnumbered hymn titles and music incipits appear in a different hand. Not all are formatted four to a page. For example, on page [21] the melody for Du Unbegreifflich Höchstes Guth... continues for two staves with an indication that the lines belong together (Zusammen). On page [23] , under Ich trau Auf Gott...the music is written for two treble voices with a bass line: the descant is unmarked, but Treble and Bass are written in English above the second and third staves. Both the older treble clef sign, as well as the G-clef are used to indicate the melody line. Clef signs, time-signatures, and key signatures are given. N.B. A 3/2 time signature appears on [26] under Nun bricht die finstere N[acht]...

Title Description:

Hand-drawn; hand-colored; hand-lettered. The main text in Fraktur and German script is enclosed within a circle and in the center of the document. Two lines in Fraktur are written along the outer perimeter of the circle, one on each side: Lerne Wie du kanst allein [left side of circle] Singer buch Und Tempel seÿn [right side of circle]. The phrases are taken from the first verse of a poem found on page one of the Marburg Hymnal.

Another phrase wie ein blümlein bald Vergeht so ist Unser leben (As a flower soon withers, so are our lives) appears at the top of the circle and is separated from the tune booklet titles by double red horizontal lines infilled with yellow. It comes from a poem by Michael Franck (1609-1667) entitled Ach, wie nichtig, ach, wie flüchtig. The circle is flanked on each side by a stylized symmetrical long leafy stem that ends in two tulips. Two flower buds extending in opposite directions and connected by a tendril fill the space above the circle at the head and below the circle at the tail of the page. The entire document is framed by a highly decorative border.

Tunebooks in General:

The idea of creating such a booklet to teach children the rudiments of musical notation so that they could learn to sing the melodies used in the hymns at church service seems to have been Johann Adam Eyer’s (1755-1837), David Kulp’s teacher. The hymnals used by their parents contained no music, but only the hymn verses with the indication “Mel.” and the title of the hymn tune to which the congregation would sing the text. The metrics, and topic of the poetry usually determined which melodies were chosen.

Eyer’s concept was a practical and useful one, and inspired many other teachers to create tune booklets for their students in which only the melody line of frequently used hymn tunes were written out. Each scholar had a booklet, usually 10.2 x 16.5 cm in size. The teacher created a title page describing the purpose of the booklet, and containing the name of the student, the school attended, and the date of the title’s creation. The empty spaces on the title page were filled in with flowers, birds, and other elements common to Pennsylvania German decorated Fraktur. These titles are absolutely beautiful, and probably inspired the singing scholar to greater endeavors as he learned how to read music and sing the tunes that either the instructor or he would copy into the booklet.

The “singing schools” or singing classes flourished in Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania from about 1787 to 1845. Singing became a part of the school curriculum, and “singing schools” became popular.

Associated Names: Kulp, David
Provenance: Borneman, Henry S., 1870-1955
Honsperger, Anna


Joel D. Alderfer. “ ‘David Kulp, His Hand and Pen, Beet It if You Can’: The Bucks County Brown Leaf Artist Identified” in Cory M. Amsler, ed., Bucks County Fraktur. Kutztown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1999, 151-165.

Das kleine Davidische Psalterspiel Der Kinder Zions, Von alten und Neuen auserlesenen Geistes=Gesängen; Allen wahren Heyls=begierigen Säuglingen der Weisheit, Insonderheit aber Denen Gemeinden des HErrn, zum Dienst und Gebrauch mit Fleiß zusammen getragen, Und in gegenwärtig=beliebiger Form und Ordnung / Nebst einem doppelten darzu nützlichen und der Materien halben nöthigen Register, ans Licht gegeben. Germantown Gedruckt bey Christoph Saur, 1744.

Russell D. and Corinne P. Earnest. "David Kulp, " in Papers for Birth Dayes: Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners. East Berlin, Pa.: Russell D. Earnest Associates, 1997, 2nd ed., vol. 1, 479-481.

Mary Jane Lederach Hershey. “The Notenbüchlein Tradition in Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Community Schools” in Cory M. Amsler, ed., Bucks County Fraktur. Kutztown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1999, 141.

Marburger Gesang=Buch zur Uebung der Gottseligkeit in 649 Christlichen und Trostreichen Psalmen und Gesängen Hrn. D. Martin Luthers. und anderer Gottseliger Lehrer, Ordentlich in XII. Theile verfasset, Und mit nöthigen Registern auch einer Verzeichniß versehen, unter welche Titul die im Anhang befindlichen Lieder gehörig: Auch zur Beförderung des so Kirchen= als Privat= Gottesdienstes, Mit erbaulichen Morgen= Abend = Buß= Beicht= und Communion=Gebätlein vermehret. Germanton, Gedruckt und zu finden bey Christoph Saur, 1762.

Creation Place Town/Township: Creation Place Note:As per inscription on title page
City/Town/Township:Perkasie School, Hilltown Township

Image Dimensions Width: 16.1 cm
ShelfMark: FLP Borneman Ms. 37
Creator Name: Kulp, David, 1777-1834, Attributed to - Decorator
Kulp, David, 1777-1834, Attributed to - Scrivener

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