I created this simple arrangement at the request of a
member for use in her Church by her Children's Handbell
"Beautiful Dreamer" is a parlor song by Stephen Foster
(1826–1864). It was published posthumously in March
1864 by Wm. A. Pond & Co. of New York. The first
edition declares on the title page that "Beautiful
Dreamer" is "the last song ever written by Stephen C.
Foster. Composed but a few days prior to his death."
Carol Kimball, the author of Song, points out however
that the copyright date on the first edition is 1862,
and this suggests, she writes, that the song was
composed and readied for publication two years before
Foster's death. There are at least 20-odd songs, she
observes, that all claim to be Foster's last, and it is
unknown which is indeed his last. The song is set in a
9/8 rhythm with a broken chord accompaniment.
The song tells of a lover serenading a "Beautiful
Dreamer", who is oblivious to all worldly cares and may
actually be dead. Foster's work features many dead
young women including Annie, Laura Lee, and Jeanie.
Helen Lightner writes, "This sentimental ballad is
folk-like in character with its repetitious but lovely
melody and its basic harmonic accompaniment… The quiet
and calm of this mood is portrayed by the monotony of
the arpeggiated accompaniment, by the repetitiveness of
the melodic pattern, and by the strophic form