The First Girl Scout Songbook
By Corinne M. Murphy
Did you know Girl Scouts have been singing for almost 100 years? When Juliette Low began Girl Scouting in the United States, she first used the songbooks she had used as a Girl Guide in England. This was the Kent County Song Book. It contained primarily folk songs of the British Isles. As Girl Scouting began to grow in the United States, the volunteer committees soon realized that we needed a songbook that reflected more of the United States.
The first songbook published by the Girl Scouts was the ‘Girl Scout Song Book’ in 1925. It was compiled by the Education Committee and edited by George Newell. Mr. Newell was a musician and educator. Some songs in the book were written by him and many more were his arrangements. For the year 1925, it was a very progressive book. It had American cowboy songs, Patriotic songs, sea shanties, Negro spirituals, an Ojibway Indian song, religious songs and Christmas carols. The songbook was also very international in scope with songs, not only from the British Isles, but also from Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, France, Bohemia, Lithuania and Switzerland. There were art songs such as “Lullabye” by Brahms and many more rounds and canons we still sing today, such as “For the Health and Strength”, “When E’er You Make A Promise”, “Hello, Hello”, and “We’re All Together Again.” The Swiss folk song about a chalet in the mountains is also included. This was the melody used for our current “Chalet Song” about the Girl Scout chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland. The songbook included an interesting group of melodies written by Mr. Newell, which he calls Patrol songs. They were designed as the melodies for groups to use for composing their individual lyrics.
If you ever find a copy of this book at a book sale, don’t pass it up! It has many beautiful and enduring songs.