La Marseillaise

 
La Marseillaise
Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.
Contre nous, de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé,
l'étendard sanglant est levé.
Entendez-vous, dans les campagnes.
Mugir ces féroces soldats
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger vos fils,
vos compagnes.

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Que veut cette horde d'esclaves
De traîtres, de rois conjurés?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés?
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter?
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer
De rendre à l'antique esclavage!

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Quoi ces cohortes étrangères!
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers!
Quoi! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fils guerriers!
Grand Dieu! par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres des destinées.

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
L'opprobre de tous les partis
Tremblez! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix!
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros
La France en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
épargnez ces tristes victimes
A regret s'armant contre nous
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires
Mais ces complices de Bouillé
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié
Déchirent le sein de leur mère!

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre!

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs,
Liberté, liberté cherie,
Combats avec tes defénseurs;
Combats avec tes défenseurs.
Sous drapeaux, que la victoire
Acoure à tes mâles accents;
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!

Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.

Let us go, children of the Fatherland
The day of glory has arrived.
Against us, the bloody
Flag of tyranny is raised,
The bloody flag is raised.
Do you hear in the countryside
The roar of these savage soldiers
They come right into our arms
To slaughter your sons,
your companions.

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

What do they want this horde of slaves
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is we they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would make themselves
The masters of destiny

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your wounds
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

We shall enter into the pit
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues
We are much less jealous to survive them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

Sacred love of the fatherland
Guide and support our vengeful arms.
Liberty, beloved liberty,
Fight with your defenders;
Fight with your defenders.
Under our flags, so that victory
Will rush to your manly strains;
That your dying enemies
Should see your triumph and glory

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions,
March on, March on!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields
The Marseillaise may just be the greatest national anthem. It is certainly one of most stirring, but also one of the most sanguinary. It originated during the French Revolution, but did not permanently become the anthem of France until 1879. It was, ironically, composed in 1792, before the overthrow of King Louis XVI, by a monarchist, Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain stationed on the Rhine, who subsequently was nearly guillotined. The song got its name when a unit from Marseilles entered Paris singing it later in the year. The popularity of the song led to its official adoption in 1795, but it was then shunned by Napoleon I, the restored Kings, and Napoleon III. Only the advent of the
Third Republic led to its permanent status.

Intended as a "war wong," the Marseillaise is extraordinarily bloody in its imagery, but I have never heard of any movement to replace it as being too violent, as there is occasional talk in the United States that The Star-Spangled Banner is too war-like. It is now certainly unthinkable that anything but the Marseillaise should be the French national anthem.

Slightly different versions of the song appear on the Internet. In the first verse, I see both "dans nos campagnes" and "dans les campagnes." Also, "ces farouches soldats" occurs for "ces féroces soldats." Since "féroce" is much more like the word in English, my suspicion is that "farouche" may be the original term. There are also occasionally questions about the translation. "Compagnes" means "female companion, consort, partner, mate," any of which makes for a somewhat awkward translation. "Compagnon" would have been just "companion" or "comrade," but I haven't seen that yet. My choice is "companion," which covers "compagne" but is not so specific. In the sixth verse there is "la carrière," here translated as "pit." This makes it sound like an image of hell, but the word simply means "quarry." And there is the problem. "La carrière" has another meaning, "race-ground, course, career, life, profession, etc." This could be more like the intended meaning, but it is hard to tell.

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001, 2002 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

Deutschland über Alles

 

Deutschland über Alles

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält,
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt --
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt.

Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang.

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach laßt uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand.
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland.

Germany, Germany above all
Above everything in the world
When, always, for protection and defense
Brothers stand together.
From the Maas to the Memel
From the Etsch to the Belt,
Germany, Germany above all
Above all in the world.

German women, German fidelity,
German wine and German song,
Shall retain, throughout the world,
Their old respected fame,
To inspire us to noble deeds
For the length of our lives.
German Women, German fidelity,
German wine and German song.

Unity and justice and freedom
For the German Fatherland;
Let us all strive to this goal
Brotherly, with heart and hand.
Unity and justice and freedom
Are the pledge of fortune grand.
Prosper in this fortune's glory,
Prosper German fatherland.

The history of the German national anthem is an ironic one. Composed by a nationalist and a republican, Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, in 1841, it represented everything that was officially frowned upon in contemporary Germany, as the author himself composed the song in exile (on Heligoland, at the time a British possession). The country was not unified -- just the
German Confederation -- and its governments were very far from being republics. Originally called Das Lied der Deutschen (or Das Deutschlandlied, "Song of the Germans/of Germany"), the common title is just from the first line of the song. It originally meant, therefore, the unity of Germany over all its existing divisions, not the triumph of Germany over everyone else. The music was taken from the String Quartet in C major (the Kaiser-Quartet), Op. 76,3 of Joseph Haydn, composed in 1797. Although a unified Germany was later brought about by Prussia, Deutschland über Alles nevertheless was never the national anthem of the German Empire, perhaps because its anti-monarchist origins were well remembered. At the same time, that explains better why the song was adopted as the anthem by the Weimar Republic in March, 1922. Like German nationalism itself, the meaning of the song was then transformed by darker forces. Hitler certainly did want Germany to be "over all" other nations and to dominate the world. But again, Deutschland über Alles was not the favorite song of the Nazis -- that was the Horst Wessel Song. In post-war Germany, the old meaning for the first verse was completely ruined, but the third can still be used as appropriate to the modern state.

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

God Save the Queen

 
God Save the Queen

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
Oh, save us all!

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

Not in this land alone,
But be God's mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world over.

From every latent foe,
From the assassin's blow,
God save the Queen!
O'er her thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!

God Save the Queen (with King substituted in the appropriate reign) is the customary, but unofficial, national anthem of Great Britain. The words and music are officially considered to be of anonymous origin. Many claims are made. Most reasonable is perhaps that for the authorship of Henry Carey, a singer and composer. He is said to have first performed the song in 1740. The oldest print copy is in a song book of 1743 to which Carey was a contributor. It is also claimed that the song is based on a similar hymn sung at the court of Louis XIV of France, and that it was brought to Britain by the Stuart "Bonnie Prince Charlie" at the time of his invasion in 1745. If a British text is available from 1743, however, that chronology is not quite going to work. Older versions of similar songs also exist in England and, it is said, Scotland. The expression, "God Save the King," had, of course, long been used.

Since the song was a personal tribute to the Sovereign, and not necessarily a national song, there came to be parallel versions with the same music, to their respective monarchs, in Prussia, Denmark, Russia, and Liechtenstein. Indeed, during the German Empire, the Prussian version was still being used as the unofficial national anthem. What everyone thinks of as the German national anthem, Deutschland über Alles, had no official recognition until 1922. The version in Liechtenstein is still used there.

My Country,
'Tis of Thee

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From ev'ry mountain-side
Let freedom ring!

The tune has also been used for songs in countries that are not monarchies, like Switzerland and the United States. The American version, My Country, 'Tis of Thee, was written by Samuel F. Smith in 1831.

God Save the Queen remains a personal song to the monarch in the Dominions where the Queen of England is still the Head of State but which have all, by now, adopted their own national anthems, i.e. God Defend New Zealand (1940, in English and Maori), O Canada! (1980, in English and French), and Advance Australia Fair (1984, but everyone knows that Waltzing Matilda is the real Australian national anthem).

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

Rule Britannia

 
Rule Britannia

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
Arose, arose, arose from out the azure main.
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang the strain.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The nations not so blest as thee,
Must in their turn to tyrants fall,
Must in their turn, must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shall flourish, shall flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke.
More dreadful, more dreadful, from each foreign stroke.
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame,
All their attempts to bend thee down,
All their attempts, all their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame.
But work their woe and thy renown.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

To thee belongs the rural reign,
Thy cities shall with commerce shine,
Thy cities shall, thy cities shall with commerce shine.
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The muses still, with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair,
Shall to thy happy coast, thy happy coasts repair,
Best isle of beauty, with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.

Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Rule Britannia is not the British national anthem -- that is
God Save the Queen -- but it is about Britain in an important way that the other song is not. Brtain became a Great Power, and was prosperous and safe, because of the Royal Navy. Because the Navy really did "rule the waves," British commerce, industry, and empire became the envy of the world -- suppressing piracy and the slave trade, and producing the Pax Britannica of the 19th century. At the same time, British parliamentary forms, the rule of law, and natural rights became ideals that even the British did not always live up to. And the English language became the lingua franca of the world.

The song began with a poem, "Rule Britannia," by James Thomson. It was put to music by Thomas Augustine Arne and was first performed in 1740. Britain had just gone to war with Spain, the war of "Jenkins' Ear" -- Captain Jenkins supposedly had had his ear cut off by the Spanish. This conflict soon was part of the larger European War of the Austrian Succession. Britain was not at this point dominant at sea, but that was in the works.

Although the revolutionary era is some years in the future, it is curious how this song puts emphasis on freedom and tyrants, as well as commerce, wealth, and greatness. Especially prophetic seem the lines "more majestic shalt thou rise, from each foreign stroke." This was certainly the case with the wars of the 18th century, and especially after the epic struggle against Napoleon. From the terrible wars of the 20th century, however, Britain was less lucky. Staggered by World War I, Britain, although victorious, no longer possessed the supremacy it had had. World War II, a far more desperate fight, left Britain, although again victorious, no longer a power of the first rank -- that was now the "superpowers" of the United States and the Soviet Union. Most conspicuously, the Royal Navy was no longer the master of the seas.

In time, the British retreat into insularity was so great the Argentina was tempted to seize the Falkland Islands (1982), expecting that Britain no longer had the resources or the will to take them back. Big mistake. The successful ejection of the Argentines, however, could not conceal one awkward truth:  Britain had been on the verge of decommissioning all her aircraft carriers. The absence of air support would have the Falklands campaign difficult to impossible.

In truth, however, the Royal Navy was the greatest navy of history, and its rule of the waves the most benevolent and beneficient, let alone most universal, of any power ever. Britain was envied for her colonial possessions, which were seen as the source of her power; but it is clear now that this was of limited economic value. Britain was strong from having an entrepreneurial tradition and a free and open market, to an extent that no country in the world has today. Indeed, countries are always worrying about "protecting" themselves. At its height, Britain knew that free trade was its best protection.

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Star Spangled Banner

The
Star-Spangled Banner

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still here.
Oh! say, does the star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream.
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our mott, "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in tirumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The great national anthem of the United States of America, the The Star-Spangled Banner, was a poem written by Francis Scott Key after observing the attempt of the British in 1814 to bombard into submission Ft. McHenry at Baltimore. Detained on a British ship, Key did not know the outcome of the battle until the next morning he saw the American flag still flying over the fort. After his poem was published, it began to be sung to an already existing tune, often said (sometimes disparagingly) to have been an old drinking song (To Anacreon in Heaven).

It was many years before the song had any official status. It quickly, however, gained a certain importance. For instance, it was sung in 1865 at the ceremony when the United States flag was officially rehoisted over Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor -- where, of course, the Civil War had begun with a Confederate bombardment. Later, the song achieved semi-official status in the usage of John Philip Sousa, conductor of the Marine Corps Band from 1880 to 1892 and thereafter involved with both the Army and Navy music programs -- not to mention composer of immortal marches like The Stars and Stripes Forever. Just before Sousa's death in 1932, Congress officially adopted The Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem (1931).

The original flag from Fort McHenry is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution (half of it, indeed, was shot away); and flags are kept flying day and night over the Fort itself, and at Francis Scott Key's grave.

The major complaint about the song is that it is just hard to sing. The match between the words of the poem and the music is a little awkward. When done well, however, and countless artists have had their chance at the World Series, the Super Bowl, and political conventions, it is powerful and moving. Another complaint has been its warlike images. These, however, pale beside the Marseillaise, which doesn't seem to receive such criticism. Only the third verse, which no one seems to know or sing, even mentions blood, which is actually in the chorus of the French anthem.

The fourth verse contains other important phrases. "Freemen shall stand between their loved home and the war's desolation" is memorable and occasionally repeated. A version of "In God is our trust" even ended up on American coins ("In God We Trust") -- Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, put it there during the Civil War.

The occasional suggestion that something milder, or more touchy-feely, be made the national anthem unfortunately seems to come from people who do not always seem to have the right idea about America, like Ted Turner, who is a fan and apologist for Fidel Castro.

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001, 2014 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

John Brown's Body, and
The Battle Hymn of the Republic

John Brown's
Body

John Brown's body lies a-mouldring in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldring in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldring in the grave,
His soul is marching on.

Glory, glory Hallelujah, glory, glory Hallelujah,
Glory, glory Hallelujah, his soul is marching on.

He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true,
They frightened Old Virginny till she trembled through and through,
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his truth is marching on.

Glory, glory Hallelujah, glory, glory Hallelujah,
Glory, glory Hallelujah, his soul is marching on.

He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord,
His soul is marching on.

Glory, glory Hallelujah, glory, glory Hallelujah,
Glory, glory Hallelujah, his soul is marching on.

John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
But his soul is marching on.

Glory, glory Hallelujah, glory, glory Hallelujah,
Glory, glory Hallelujah, his soul is marching on.

Now has come the glorious jubilee,
Now has come the glorious jubilee,
Now has come the glorious jubilee,
When all mankind is free.

Glory, glory Hallelujah, glory, glory Hallelujah,
Glory, glory Hallelujah, his soul is marching on.
Since John Brown's Body and The Battle Hymn of the Republic both use the same music, and both concern the same issues and train of events, it is suitable that they be treated together.

John Brown was the sort of Abolitionist to whom "by any means necessary" would have been an agreeable sentiment. He eagerly joined the mutual massacres in "Bloody Kansas" in 1855, to prevent the territory from voting for slavery. He lost the vote, but Congress rejected the petition to admit Kansas as a Slave State. More dramatic yet was his attempt in 1859 in seize the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and spark a slave revolt. This was even less successful than his Kansas adventures, and he was captured by, of all people, Colonel Robert E. Lee. Tried for treason and hung, Brown became more successful as a martyr to Abolitionism than he ever had been in his violent projects.

The tune of the song was from an old camp meeting or revival song -- Say Brothers Will You Meet Us? The origin of the actual words is lost in battling legends.

On May 28, 1863, the Massachussetts 54th Regiment, the first black unit in the United States Army, paraded in review in Boston, singing John Brown's Body. As a matter of fact, John Brown lies, with several of his fellow Harper's Ferry conspirators, in graves on his own farm, just outside Lake Placid, New York.

The Battle Hymn
of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero born of woman crush the serpent with his beel,
Since God is marching on.

Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was bom across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
The origin of The Battle Hymn of the Republic is lost in no such obscurity as John Brown's Body. It was written by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) in 1861. After the first battle of Bull Run, it was clear that the War was not going to be a short or easy one. As Mrs. Howe later recounted, she was leaving church with her minister and some friends, singing John Brown's Body, when the minister suggested that she write some new words for the tune. Soon enough she did, and it was published in Harper's Magazine in February 1862.

As the battles of the Civil War became increasingly terrible, all began to feel that only Divine Intervention would settle the matter. The Battle Hymn became the most famous and durable version of the Union Appeal to Heaven.
 
Return to "Abortion"

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2004 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

Waltzing Matilda

 
Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came the jumbuck to drink at the water-hole,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me. 

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Up came the Squatter a-ridding his thoroughbred,
Up came Troopers -- one, two and three,
Whose is that jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me. 

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

The swagman he up and he jumped in the water-hole,
Drowning himself by the coolibah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings by the billabong,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? 

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Although it has no offical status, and an offical national anthem does exist for Australia (Advance Australia Fair, adopted 1984), Waltzing Matilda is certainly the most beloved Australian national song, and internationally recognizable as well. It was written by Andrew Barton "Banjo" Patterson (1864-1941) in 1895 while visiting a sheep station in Queensland, based on some local stories he heard. It was an instant success. Considering that it is a very sad song, about a man who kills himself rather than endure arrest, its appeal indicates a traditional anti-authoritarian streak in Australian culture. In a country where it is illegal not to vote, where personal firearms are being confiscated, and where free speech is not completely protected, one wonders how well or how long this distrust of authority is fated to endure. One can only hope for a reaction in which the contrariness of our thieving swagman will reassert itself.

The language of the song contains a number of perplexing dialect terms. The "swagman" is an itinerant sheep shearer. His "swag" is his bedroll and other possessions. A "billabong" is pool of water from a dried up creek or stranded oxbow pond. These are common enough in Australia, a relatively dry land, that the Australian lungfish are adapted for them:  when the oxygen in the water is depleted, the fish can breath the air. A "coolibah tree" is eucalyptus, now nearly as familiar in California as in Australia. A "billy" is tin can used as a cooking or tea pot. A "jumbuck" is a sheep. A "tucker-bag" is understandable from American usage, where "tucker" is "food." A "squatter" would be something like a homesteader in the United States, where "squatter" itself is used more for trespassers. The "troopers" are mounted policemen, and some versions of the song simply say "policemen." "Waltzing Matilda" means to travel around as the swagman does, with "waltz" borrowed from German immigrants, with perhaps a double entendre involved, as "waltz" can also be a dance. "Matilda" either is a proper name for the swagman's bedroll, or a general term, dating all the way back to the Thirty Years War, it is said, for camp followers or the bedrolls and blankets that perforce took their place.

Thief or no, the swagman clearly has a hard life, sleeping in the open and cooking over his fire; and Waltzing Matilda clearly evokes the harsh life of the early transported convicts, and later difficulties in Australian life, like grim experiences in World War I and II. It is thus a great song, not just of Australian, but of human life.

While Matilda did quite well in the vote for Australia's national anthem, many Australians seem to be embarrassed by its sentiments, as I have heard from the occasional correspondent who is indignant at the attention that I have given to it. I can only wonder if these are the people responsible for things like the legal requirement to vote, the confiscation of firearms, and the poor protections for free speech. I understand that simply repeating the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality can result in legal penalties. Such things are a sad testimony to what has happened to what Jefferson called the "spirit of resistance" among the people. Waltzing Matilda represents a great deal more of the spirit of resistance than what now seems typical in Australia, and it is thus a shame that it does not have even more of the status than it does.

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2001, 2014 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved