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Chester (arr. Osterling)

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William Billings

William Billings (arr. Eric Osterling)

General Info

Year: 1778 / 1982
Duration: c. 2:15
Difficulty: I (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Song
Publisher: Jenson
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
Bassoon/Convertible Bass Line
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-toms (3)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Chester is a patriotic anthem composed by William Billings and sung during the American Revolutionary War. Billings wrote the first version of the song for his 1770 songbook The New England Psalm Singer, and made improvements for the version in his The Singing Master's Assistant (1778). It is the latter version that is best known today.

The curious title of the song reflects a common practice of Billings's day, in which tunes were labeled with (often arbitrarily chosen) place names. Billings's song evidently has little more to do with any particular town named Chester than his famous hymn Africa has to do with Africa. The idea behind this practice was that by labeling the tunes independently, one could sing them to different words without creating confusion.

Although this cannot be established with certainty, it appears that these lyrics are by Billings himself.

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England's God forever reigns.

The Foe comes on with haughty Stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen'rals yield to beardless Boys.

What grateful Off'ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,
And praise his name on ev'ry Chord.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

  • Louisiana: I
  • South Carolina: I
  • Texas: I. Complete
  • Virginia: I


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Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Billings, W.; Osterling, E. (1982). Chester [score]. Jenson Publications: [Milwaukee, Wisc.?].
  • Chester (song), Wikipedia Accessed 21 June 2021