Temperance Songs Promoted Temperance Through Music

Temperance songs were very important to the temperance movement. In the 19th century the world was a very different place. There was no TV, movies, radio, personal computers, and no internet.


I.   Background

II.  Alphabetically by Author

III. By Date

IV.  Discover More

I. Background

Temperance songs were very popular during the 1800s. The movement was growing strong. Also, the US was a nation of singers. They sang at churches, revivals, rallies, camp meetings, club meetings, at home, and elsewhere. It was a popular form of entertainment in a time with few diversions.

Temperance leader Frances Willard stressed the importance of temperance songs. She believed that “the magic power of song” should be exploited. “Song is a sentiment maker and…every chorus rendered at a public entertainment ought to add new converts to the cause of Temperance.”

Also the commitment of supporters could be maintained through temperance songs. This could be at rallies, meetings, churches, parades, and elsewhere.

temperance songs
Frances Willard

Over time the goals of the temperance movement changed. It originally called for temperance or moderation. At the time, this meant avoiding distilled spirits (liquor). But beer and wine were seen acceptable, even healthful in moderation. (People didn’t know this fact. Standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits all contain the same amount of pure alcohol.)

But later all alcoholic beverages were seen as bad. The temperance movement was no longer about moderation. Its name had become a misnomer.


Protestant churches became involved in the temperance movement. They began to see drinking alcohol as bad. Then they saw it as a sin. This, of course, supported the newer objection against all alcohol.

But it created a problem. Jesus had made and consumed wine. Churches had to deal with this problem. So they came up with the “two-wine” doctrine.

When Jesus made or drank “wine,” it was simply grape juice. And when the Bible made positive references to “wine,” it was really only grape juice. But any negative statements about wine referred to fermented grape juice.

Early temperance activists saw the problem at the individual level. “Drunkards” lacked moral strength. Sobriety could be achieved through religion. Thus, early temperance songs reflected that view.

As time passed, more and more people saw the solution at a societal level. There were more calls for government to prohibit alcohol.

Lyrics began to stress this, as in the song “Prohibition.”

Hark! the world is hoarse with wailing.
Lamentations unavailing.
For today is heap’d with sorrow,
And there’s more to come tomorrow.

Prohibition, prohibition.
O! ’tis worth all repetition.
Naught will curb our sad condition,
Short of total prohibition.

Oh! thou earth and thou great heaven,
Are no means of rescue given?
Yes, there are on one condition.
Yes, there are with prohibition
Talk no more of mere restriction.
Do not trifle with conviction.
We may fence the regulation,
It must come to prohibition.

The call for prohibition encouraged political activism. This can be seen in “Vote as You Pray.”

Can you go on thus my brother.
While praying day by day.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,”
And yet not vote as you pray?
Do not cease from prayer, no never!
But pray on while you may.
But if you would know your pray’r is heard,
Be sure to vote as you pray.
Let us wake from this delusion.
That praying will win the day.
Unless our prayer and votes agree.
Then always vote as we pray.

The Woman’s Christian Union (WCTU) promoted what it called Scientific Temperance Instruction. The goal was to make the coming generations “trained haters of alcohol.” This intent can be seen in “The Future Law-Makers.”

I’m a little “Loyal” legion boy/girl.
I’m only ten years Old.
But in the cause of temperance,
My name has been enrolled.

We are growing up you see,
And we’ll help the temperance cause.
When we’re twenty-one, you see, then we’ll make the laws.
Oh! then we’ll make the laws. Oh! then we’ll make the laws.
Yes, when we’re twenty-one. Oh! then we’ll make the laws.

I don’t know much about the curse,
But this I know full well.
That wine and cider, gin and rum,
They should never sell.

Discover more about temperance songs with the resources at the bottom of this page.

II. Temperance Songs Listed Alphabetically by Author.

    • temperance songsAdams, J. The Boston Temperance Glee Book. Boston: E. Howe, 1848.
    • Anon. Flying Squadron Temperance Songs. Chicago: Excell, 191-?
    • ____. Gospel Temperance.  Morgan, c 1900.
    • ____. Inspiring Temperance Songs. No. 1.  Chicago: Meyer, c 1907.
    • ____. The New-Brunswick Temperance Songster.  St. John, NB: J. & A. McMillan, 1848.
    • ____. The Star of Temperance. Toronto: 1863.
    • Beardsall, F.  Selection of Hymns and Songs, Suitable for Public and Social Temperance Meetings. Manchester, Eng: Hesketh, 1844.
    • Biederwolf, W., et al. Best Temperance Songs. Chicago: Glad Tidings, 1913.
    • Birch, W. Temperance Motto Songs. London: J. Curwen, 1881.
    • Campbell, R. The Canadian Temperance Minstrel. Montreal: Montreal Temp Soc, 1842.
    • Bradbury, W., and Stearns, J. Temperance Chimes. NY: Nat Temp Soc Pub House, 1867.
    • Coleman, E., et al. The Temperance Songbook. NY: Am Her, 1971. (Orig pub 1907.)
    • songs about temperanceDavis, F. Crystal Notes. Altoona, PA: Leslie, 1878.
    • Dungan, G., et al. Acorn Temperance Songs. Fairbury, IL: Praise, 1908.
    • Geary, R. Abstinence Songs. Phoenix: AZ Printers, 1943.
    • Gordon, A. Marching Songs for Young Crusaders. Chicago: Woman’s Temp Pub. Assn, c 1885.
    • ______. Marching Songs for Young Crusaders: No. 2. Evanston, IL: W.C.T.U., 1890.
    • ______. Marching Songs No. 3. Chicago: Woman’s Temp Pub Assn,18–?
    • ______. Songs of the Young Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Chicago: Woman’s Temp Pub Assn, 1889.
    • ______. Temperance Songs for Children. Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1916.
    • Hall, J., and Ruebush, W. Temperance Songs. Dayton, VA: Ruebush, 1910.
    • Hamilton, W. Hamilton’s Temperance Music-Book. Glasgow: W. Hamilton, 1852.
    • Hart, L. The Juvenile Temperance Harp. NY: Dunn, 1857.
    • Heath, G. Temperance Hymns. NY: Nat Temp Soc Pub House, c 1871.
    • Hewlett, S. Hewlett’s Temperance Songster. Cooperstown, NY: S. Hewlett, 1846.
    • Hoffman, E. Anti-Saloon Campaign Songs. Benton Harbor, MI: Hoffman, 1909.
    • ______., and Tenney, J. Temperance Jewels. Boston: Ditson, 1879.
    • songs about temperanceHoyle, W. Hoyle’s Hymns and Songs: for Temperance Societies & Bands of Hope. London: Partridge, c 1887.
    • Hubbard, S. The New Temperance Melodist. Boston: Ditson, c 1859.
    • Hull, A. Hull’s Temperance Glee Book. Boston: Ditson, 1877.
    • Hunter, R. Four Temperance Songs. NY: Marks,1972.
    • J R. Total Abstinence Songs. Manchester [Eng]: Holker, c 1850.
    • Kinzie, R., and Gabriel, C. Gospel and Temperance Songs. Cincin: John Church, 1878.
    • Loyal Temp Legion. Songs for Boys and Girls of the Loyal Temperance Legion. Evanston, IL: WCTU, c 1948.
    • Macy, J. The Temperance Bugle. Cleveland: S. Brainard’s Sons, 1878.
    • McCauley, W. Anti-Saloon Songs. Dayton, OH: Lorenz, 1899.
    • McDonald, R. The Silver Star Temperance Song Book. San Francisco: McDonald, c 1887.
    • Marsh, J. Temperance Hymn Book and Minstrel. NY: Am Temp Union, 1841.
    • MA Temp Union. Temperance Song Book. Boston: Kidder & Wright, 1842.
    • Neale, S. Temperance Songs. London: Bevington, 1886.
    • NE WCTU. Nebraska’s Favorite Temperance Rally Songs. U Place, NE: Claflin, n.d.
    • Nichols, A. The Iron Door. Kingston, N.Y. : Daily Freeman, 1878.
    • songs about temperanceParkhurst, E., et al. Girls, Wait for a Temperance Man. NY: Tremaine, 1867.
    • Penney, L. Rallying Songs for Young Teetotalers. NY: Nat Temp Soc Publ House, 1888.
    • Phillips, P., et al. Gospel Temperance Songs. NY: Inter Music,1877.
    • Potter, R. The Boston Temperance Songster. Boston: W. White, 1846.
    • Roush, F. Temperance Rally and Campaign Songs. Lynchburg, OH: Record Press, 1907. 2nd ed.
    • Saunders, N. The Temperance Songster. Providence: Handy, 1867.
    • Stearns, J. Bugle Notes for the Temperance Army. NY: Nat Temp Soc Pub House, 1871.
    • Shindler, M. The Temperance Lyre. NY: Dayton & Newman, 1842.
    • Stowe, P. Melodies for the Temperance Ship. Boston: Stowe, 1854.
    • Taylor, H., and Herbert, J. The Battle Cry; a New Collection of Temperance and Prohibition Songs. Cincin: Fillmore, 1887.
    • Temperance Legion. The California Temperance Song Book. San Francisco, F. Clarke, 1867.
    • Thompson, E. Thompson’s Band of Hope Melodies. Boston: Wright, 1860.
    • Tomkins, I. The Union Temperance Song Book. Boston: Tompkins, 1844.
    • Trowbridge, A. The Temperance Melodeon. Boston: Ditson, 1850.
    • Warburton, J. Temperance Songs. Milwaukee: Cramer, 1880.
    • Washingtonian. The Washington Temperance Song-Book. Phila: Smith & Peck, 1843.
    • WCTU. Favorite WCTU Songs. Evanston, IL: Signal Press, 1969.
    • ____. Songs for the Loyal Temperance Legion. Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1928.
    • ____. The Voice of Song. Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1944.
    • White, C., and Coles, J. Temperance Revival Songs. Boston : White, 1876.

III. Temperance Songs Listed by Date

1841 Marsh, J.
1842 Campbell, R.
1842 MA Temp Union.
1842 Shindler, M.
temperance songs1843 Washingtonian.
1844 Beardsall, F.
1844 Tomkins, I.
1846 Hewlett, S.
1846 Potter, R.
1848 Adams, J.
1848 Anon.
1850 Trowbridge, A.
c 1850 JR
1851 Anon.
1852 Hamilton, W.
1854 Stowe, P.
1857 Hart, L.
c 1859 Hubbard, S.
1863 Anon.
1867 Bradbury, W., & Stearns, J.
1867 Parkhurst, E., et al.
1867 Saunders, N.
1867 Temperance Legion.
c 1871 Heath, G.
1871 Stearns, J.
1876 White, C.
1877 Hull, A.
1877 Phillips, P., et al.
1878 Davis, F.
1878 Kinzie, R., & Gabriel, C.
1878 Macy, J.
1878 Nichols, A.
1879  Hoffman, E., & Tenney, J.
1881 Birch, W.
1882 Warburton, J.
1885 Gordon, A.
1886 Neale, S.
1887 Taylor, H., & Herbert, J.
c 1887 Hoyle, W.
c 1887 McDonald, R.
1888 Penney, I.
1890 Gordon, A.
1899 McCauley, W
18–? Gordon, A.
1900 Anon.
1907 ____.
1907 Coleman, E., et al.
1907 Roush, F.
temperance songs1908 Dungan, G., et al.
1909 Hoffman, E.
191-? Anon.
1910 Hall, J., & Ruebush, W.
1913 Biederwolf, W., et al.
1916 Gordon, A.
1928 WCTU
1943 Geary, R.
1944 WCTU
c 1948 Loyal Temperance League.
c 1960-1969 WCTU
1972 Hunter, R.
n.d. Nebraska WCTU.

IV. Discover More: Songs about Temperance

Please note: Lyrics of the temperance songs presented above belong to their respective copyright owners. They are presented here solely for educational purposes. Contact owners for permission to use.