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The Music Division Wishes You a Happy New Year!

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New-Year greeting: dedicated to my customers. M.B. Edinger. New York : M.B. Edinger, 1874. Music Division.

The following is a guest post by retired cataloger Sharon McKinley

Looking for an appropriate New Year’s greeting, I found this song featuring a distinguished-looking gentleman with great facial hair on the cover. The title seems pretty tame, but the subtitle, Dedicated to my customers… is pure click-bait- -19th century style. Pleasant and easy to sing, it’s the 1874 equivalent of an advertising jingle – one in which the composer seems to be trying to shame his customers into buying something. Whatever works!

From the few sources I could find, I’ve identified M.B. Edinger as a music teacher in 1870, and from 1872 a shop-keeper on New York’s East Side selling music as well as stationery, toys, and sundries. Writing a song urging his customers to come shop at his establishment must have seemed like a logical move, or at least a humorous one. I’m assuming he handed it out for free to every visitor to his store, or possibly everywhere he went. He wrote or published several other pieces in our collections, including  Flora Heilbron’s arrangement of an ancient tune by King David.

Edinger was obviously into antiquity, although presumably his audience knew that Jubal is considered to be the biblical father of all musicians. I herewith offer you the full lyrics to the New-Year greeting. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

When Father Jubal taught his art, He was considered very smart,
But somehow, none of you took part in anything he taught.
And though, no doubt, those harps of old, And organs too must have been sold.
I swear, and I am not too bold, Not one of them you’ve bought.

But you may yet salvation win, If you’ll repent of ancient sin.
And go at once to Jubal’s kin, And buy at least a drum.
Then come my friends from far and near, To M.B. Edinger appear,
And he will say: A happy year, and many more to come.

New Year’s Eve. , ca. 1876. Prints and Photographs Division.


  1. Thank you – this is fun. I like buy at least a drum. My daughter is a drummer and would take exception. This shows a lot about unchanging human nature.
    Happy New Year to you and thank you for sharing.

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