13 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About The “Happy Birthday” Song

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Know these 13 facts about the Happy Birthday song

The Happy Birthday song has been a common tune every time a person celebrates the natal day and here are the facts that you probably don’t know about this.

happy birthday song
Photo courtesy of Mental Floss

#1 Patty Smith Hill originally composed the song as “Good Morning to All” in 1893. She was a kindergarten teacher and principal in Louisville, Kentucky. Patty composed this with her oldest sister, Mildred Jane Hill, a pianist and composer.

The song has these lyrics:
Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, dear children,
Good morning to all.

#2 The song was part of the sisters’ larger project to create a simple melody that children would remember and sing easily. They published the Good Morning To All song in their 1893 book, Song Stories for the Kindergarten.

#3 The origin of the Happy Birthday lyrics is unclear. Based on the article from Reader’s Digest, the said lyrics for the natal day first appeared in the 1912 songbook of a piano manufacturer. After that, the song was featured in several instances:

With this, the family of Patty and Mildred Hill took legal action. The Clayton F. Summy Co. published and copyrighted all six versions of Happy Birthday To You (HBTY), crediting Mildred and Patty as the authors in 1934 and 1935.

#4 The tune of GMTA may be derivative of other 19th-century works, according to some scholars. They pointed out the similarity of Hill sisters’ composition from Horace Waters’ “Happy Greetings to All” (1858), as well as “Good Night to All” (1858), “A Happy New Year to All” (1875).

#5 Legal battles regarding the copyright of the song raged for years. Warner Music paid $14 million to put “Happy Birthday” into the public domain in February 2016 and in June of the same year, it was approved by a judge.

happy birthday song
Photo courtesy of CBS

#6 No one was allowed to sing the HBTY song in movies without paying its royalty before Warner Music paid for it in 2016.

#7 Some restaurants have created their own Birthday Song to avoid infringement.

#8 In July 1933, George P. Oslin, the Western Union executive who pioneered the festive greeting, sent the HBTY song in the first-ever singing telegram, through operator Lucille Lipps to entertainer Rudy Vallée.

#9 A study by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Minnesota stated that singing the birthday song makes the cake tastes better. Singing before eating heightens the enjoyment of the food.

#10 The HBTY song is the most frequently-sung English song in the whole world.

#11 This song was included in the 45-second orchestral piece of Igor Stravinsky’s “Greeting Prelude”.

#12 The GMTA’s composition anniversary is being celebrated every June 27 which is also the natal day of Mildred Hill.

#13 The Hill sisters were honored at the 1996 Songwriters Hall of Fame award, as well as during the induction ceremony with the Towering Song Award, a form of celebrating the lasting cultural impact of a song.

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