Sheet Music: Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean

TitleColumbia, the Gem of the Ocean
ComposerThomas à Becket (1808–1890)
Also attributed toDavid T. Shaw
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyA-flat major
Time signature4/4
Tempo104 BPM
Performance time0:55
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (49 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (460 kB)
Date added2013-05-23
Last updated2013-05-23
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 0.6 (below average)
American Civil War, Patriotic


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Thursday 23 May 2013

Tune of the Day: Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean

United States patriotic song

This song was very popular during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the Civil War era. It functioned as an unofficial national anthem in competition with “Hail, Columbia” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” until the latter's formal adoption as the national anthem of the United States in 1931.

Historical sources generally agree that in the autumn of 1843 an actor named David T. Shaw wanted a new patriotic song to sing at a benefit performance. He gained the assistance of a fellow performer, Thomas à Becket, who wrote the lyrics and melody for him. Shaw published the song under his own name, but Becket was able to prove his authorship by means of his original handwritten composition. There remains some disagreement as to whether other versions of the song predated Becket's composition or followed it.

Thanks to Steve for suggesting this tune!