Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein Gehöret Johannes Honsperger, Sing Schuler in der birkenseher schule, geschrieben d 17ten Januarius Im Jahr 1815

Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein Gehöret Johannes Honsperger, Sing Schuler in der birkenseher schule, geschrieben d 17ten Januarius Im Jahr 1815

Item Info

Item No: frkm040000
Title: Dieses Harmonische Melodeyen büchlein Gehöret Johannes Honsperger, Sing Schuler in der birkenseher schule, geschrieben d 17ten Januarius Im Jahr 1815
Creation Date: 1/17/1815
Scripts/Text: Fraktur; German script
Language: German
Weiser Number: 831
Physical Description: 40 p; 18mo; oblong format
Material: Paper wrapper; laid paper; watercolors; red and black ink; thread
Category: Tune Booklet (Notenbüchlein)
Media Type: Manuscripts
Source: Rare Book Department

Accompanying Materials Laid or Tipped In:

Third of a sheet of wove paper with following noted in pencil: 34 in a circle with an X through it; 40 in a circle; JOHANNES HUNSZBERGER ( ON THE COVER ) | 1820 | JOHANNES HONSPERGER | SINGING STUDENT BIRDENSEHER SCHULE | WRITTEN JANUARY 17, 1815 \ (COMPARE: SHELLEY PLATE NO. 44; 11 in a square; 1815


Stiff 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 Johannes Honsperger Singing Scholar in the Perkasie School Written the 17th of January in the Year 1815.

N. B. See also FLP B-11.

Physical Description:

[1-2] 3 title page [4] 5-17 [18] 19-31 [32-40]


Scope and Content:

This tune booklet was made for Johannes Honsperger by his teacher David Kulp on January 17, 1815 while he was a student and singing scholar in the Perkasie School, Hilltown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His name appears in the upper right corner of the outside cover as Johannes Hunsperger 1820, and on the upper right corner of the front flyleaf as Johannes Honsperger, both inscriptions in German script. There is no rudimentary musical instruction included in this booklet.

Staves are hand drawn, and the number per page vary according to voicing, and length of the melody line. The first thirty-two hymn titles along with their music incipits are copied by one hand in a format of four per page--key signature and soprano clef indicated.

Thereafter another hand sometimes formats four hymn titles with music incipits to a page and sometimes not. In general a “C” symbol is used to indicate treble clef. Key signatures are also given. Two treble parts and one bass part are written out on page [14] for No. 43 Ich trau Auf Gott.  At this point the numbering goes awry with No. 45 following No. 43. Three-part voicing is given on page [20] in treble, alto, and bass clefs for No. 54 Meine zu friedenheit, Steh in R with Hoch weiß written above the alto line, and baß above the bass line. The melody line is sometimes notated on both sides of the open page, thereby altering the format. Whenever this happens, a notation of zusammen is made so that the reader knows that the melodic line is carrying over to the opposite page. There are three staves drawn per page for pages [26-27] with the melody line of No. 73 Wie schön leuchts uns der morgen carried over to the top stave of page [27]. If the last note of a music incipit is not to carry over to the next page, it is enclosed in parentheses. The melody line for No. 83 on page [28] Stelle Dir O Mensch Dein Ende is not abbreviated, and requires all four staves on the page. There are a total of 89 hymn titles with music incipits.

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.

The circle is flanked on each side by a stylized symmetrical leafy long-stemmed flower. 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. It is colored yellow inside the upper part of the circle above the text, and decorated with wavy black lines. A decorative S element follows the outlines of the circle, terminating where the flower buds begin. 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 was 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, Johannes


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.

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, 145.

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.

Die kleine geistliche Harfe der Kinder Zions, oder auserlesene geistreiche Gesänge allen wahren heilsbegierigen Säuglingen der Weisheit, insonderheit aber allen Christlichen Gemeinden des Herrn zum Dienst und Gebrauch mit Fleiss zusammen getragen, und in gegenwärtiger Form und Ordnung gestellt, nebst einm dreyfachen Register. Erste Auflage. Auf Verordnung der Mennonisten Gemeinde. Germantaun: Gedruckt bey Michael Billmeyer, 1803.

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 title page inscription
City/Town/Township:Perkasie School, Hilltown Township

Image Dimensions Width: 9.5 cm
ShelfMark: FLP Borneman Ms. 40
Creator Name: Kulp, David, 1777-1834, Attributed to - Decorator
Kulp, David, 1777-1834, attributed to - Scrivener

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