The Story of The Happy Birthday Song

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday, happy birthday,

Happy birthday to you!

If there is one song that can be labeled as “The Most Frequently Sung Song of all Time,”  it would be none other than the Happy Birthday song.  Every single day there are hundreds of thousands of birthday celebrants all over the globe, and they all dance to one song – the undying Happy Birthday song.  So how does one create a song that goes down from generation to generation to generation without ever being replaced?  Who is this remarkable person who created such an all-time classic?

To whom do we give credit?

The melody of this song originally came from a song entitled “Good Morning to All,” composed by sisters Mildred (melody) and Patty (lyrics) Hill.  As schoolteachers, they composed a classroom greeting song to be sung by kindergarten pupils.  The sisters published this song in a book entitled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten,” which both of them co-wrote in 1893.

It is believed that around forty years later, Patty came up with the lyrics to Happy Birthday to fit her sister’s melody. This song was then published in 1935.  It hit popularity after being featured in the Broadway production of “As Thousands Cheer,” and since then, had become an all-time classic.

Who are Mildred and Patty Hill?

The Hill sisters were both kindergarten and Sunday-school teachers in Louisville, Kentucky.  Mildred was the eldest, born June 27, 1859. She learned music from her father, and later dedicated her time to singing, composing and performing.  She died on June 5, 1916 at the age of 57.

Patty Hill, on the other hand, born March 27, 1868, was an active leader in the progressive education movement of the 19th century.  She was also one of the founders of the National Association Nursery Education (NANE), which is now known as the National Association For the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  She died on May 25, 1946 at the age of 78.

What were the original lyrics?

The original song, Good Morning to All, went like this (taken from

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you. 
Good morning, dear children, 
Good morning to all.

More from this series:

Music History:  The Story of  Jingle Bells

Music History:  The Story of Auld Lang Syne

For more interesting articles, visit


About Author

Leave A Reply