Today’s Illustration: Happy Birthday To You!

Who: Patty and Mildred Hill

When: March 4, 1924

What: The song and melody of “Happy Birthday to You” were printed in a songbook.

  • The ownership and copyright status has been a controversy for years.
  • The Tune:  “was originally written in the late 1800s as “Good Morning to All.”  Sisters Patty and Mildred Hill claimed they wrote the song for kindergarteners in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The Original Lyrics: “Good morning to you, Good morning to you, Good morning, dear children, Good morning to all.”
  • Published in 1893: “Song Stories for Kindergarten”
  • Over the following years, the “Happy Birthday” lyrics began appearing
  • March 4, 1924: Claydon Sunny combined the melody and “Happy Birthday” lyrics
  • “In 1931, it was in the Broadway musical The Band Wagon.”
  • “Western Union also used it in their first singing telegram.”
  • “The Hill family (Jessica Hill, sister of Patty and Mildred) had the copyright for the song if it was used for profit.”
  • Translated into at least 18 languages, sung to the original tune
  • “In 1988, Warner Music assumed ownership of the copyright and received $2 million in royalties every year for it.  They claimed copyright for the song anytime it was used in film, television, radio, and anywhere in the public where the majority of the people singing weren’t family or friends.”
  • In 2015, a court ruled that the song was no longer covered by copyright.  Therefore, Warner Music would no longer receive any royalties.
  • The song is now in the public domain. [1]
  • Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most popular song in the English language.”
  • “The Hills would have parties and strawberry festivals at the cabins, and enjoy the coolness of the woods,” Jennifer says. “One summer, it was one of the Hill sisters’ friends’ — Lysette Hest’s — birthday, and Patty and Mildred decided to celebrate her birthday by singing a song.The Hills swapped out the lyrics for a song they wrote in 1883 called ‘Good Morning to All’ and replaced the lyrics with ‘Happy Birthday to You,’ using the same melody,” Jennifer says. It was a hit!

    Although the Hill sisters had no way of knowing just how popular their song would eventually become, they did have some idea of how much people liked it, Jennifer says. . . . The copyright for the Hills’ songbook expired in 1921.” [2]

  • “Are We Allowed to Sing it?

    Many people may not have realized that up until the year 2016, “Happy Birthday to You” was actually illegal to sing publicly unless you paid a hefty fee. Singing it publicly could include on T.V., radio or just at a party place. This was due to the copyright that was registered in 1935 and not set to expire until 2030. This changed though once a U.S federal judge ruled that the copyright claim was not valid and the song had no other claim to copyright, placing it in the public domain, and making it free to sing for all.” [3]

. . . . .

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • salvation birthday
  • born again
  • birth
  • ownership
  • celebration
  • disagreements
  • dedication of babies
  • Creation
  • 10,000 years
  • Methuselah
  • longevity

Sermonic Example: 

(Include whatever information you find useful)

. . . . The song is in dispute, when it comes to our spiritual birthday, that must not be. . . . .

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