Henry Clay Work, “Come Home, Father”

Collection ID







United States




Printed on Paper


13.4 × 10.5 × 0.04 in. (34 × 26.6 × 0.1 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

Henry Clay Work composed the song “Come Home, Father” in 1864 to promote the temperance movement, a growing social reform movement that sought to restrict the consumption of alcohol. Work was a printer and self-taught composer who worked for the Root & Cady music publishing house in Chicago. As with other temperance songs at this time, he used sentimental imagery of the home to appeal to the emotions of audiences. The song is written from the perspective of a child named “Little Mary,” who pleads for her father to come home from a bar to be with her dying brother, “Benny.” Work would eventually publish over 80 songs, including the popular Civil War songs “Kingdom Coming” and “Marching through Georgia.”

Printed in 1864 by Root & Cady, Chicago, Illinois. Acquired before 2017 by Jerome Redfearn, antiquity and book dealer; Purchased in 2017 by Ted Steinbock, private collector, Louisville, Kentucky; Privately purchased in 2020 by Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

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