The Most Sung Song In History

No, it's not by the Beatles or even Elvis. But you definitely know all the words!

In 2018, we marked our official 200th year in business — something for which we’re very proud! And what’s a birthday without singing that famous song? The song “Happy Birthday to You” is one of the simplest, yet most enduring, tunes that continues to be sung.

Found in the Guinness Book of World Records, the happy birthday song is listed as one of the most commonly sung songs. Other commonly sung songs include “Auld Lang Syne” and “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.” However, the fact that every living person has a birthday leads us to believe that the happy birthday song is the most frequently sung song in the U.S.

About Those Lyrics

The author of the famous song actually changed the lyrics of one of her published songs on a whim to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Patty Hill and her sister Mildred were kindergarten teachers in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1893, they had their book Song Stories for the Kindergarten and Primary Schools published. The first song in the book was “Good Morning to All,” a song that teachers could sing each day to welcome their students to the classroom.

Nearly ten years after their first song book was published, the Hill sisters were invited to a neighbor’s birthday party. It was then that Patty changed the words of “Good Morning to All” to “Happy Birthday to You,” in an effort to make the occasion more festive. The song was the highlight of the party, and obviously caught on.

Today, that same simple song is the highlight of thousands of birthday parties each day.

An Important Achievement

Did you know that the Happy Birthday Song is the first song sung in outer space? It’s true. On March 8, 1969, the crew of Apollo IX sang it for Chris Kraft, MSC Director of Flight Operations. Its most memorable rendition was sung by Marilyn Monroe to President Kennedy in May of 1962.

The Hill sisters, who never married and devoted their lives to educating children, could never imagine that their most enduring legacy would be a simple little song that caught on.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

Notify of

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lois Scott

How interesting to hear that the tune was first with the words for ‘Good Morning to All’ which I did not know. Recently when I met my first grandchild, I would sing ‘Good morning to you’ and other stanzas of words that came to my mind. Seemingly at the tender age of 3 months he liked the tune – hopefully words too – as he would smile for me. Then I noted that the tune would soothe him. Now he will be ready for the ‘Happy Birthday’ when #1 rolls around!

Plan Your Day. Grow Your Life.

Get money-saving tips, weather updates and more! Sign up today.