Click this icon to hear Rule, Britannia! if it does not automatically play.
This song was set to the tune of the patriotic English song, Rule, Britannia!. Frank Moore, in his volume, Songs And Ballads Of The American Revolution, published in 1855, stated that it was set to the tune of "Smile Britannia." No record of any song by that name can be found; possibly Mr. Moore simply made an error in the name.
This song, like many others, did not actually possess a title. It, like others, was written by someone, oftentimes anonymously, and submitted to a printer, who included it in an issue of a newspaper or broadside to take up empty space. Songs like this one often were phrased so that they could be sung to the tune of already established and beloved songs.
In regard to the original song, Rule, Britannia!, the music was written by Thomas Arne. (The original lyrics were written by James Thomson.) The song was fist published in the year 1740. Over the years it took its place alongside God Save The King/Queen as one of Britain's most loved patriotic songs, and of course, was popular in the American Colonies when the Revolutionary War broke out.
Rise, rise bright genius rise, Conduct thy sons to war;
Thy spear pois'd to the skies, Whirl, whirl, thy rapid car;
Fire each firm breast with noble zeal, To conquer for the common weal.
For years the iron rod, Has hover'd o'er our heads,
Submit to George's Nod, Whose power all Europe dreads;
The slavish minion trembling cries, But freedom's sons all fears despise.
All means for peace we've tried, But found those measures vain,
North's ministerial pride, Thought fear made us complain;
But in the end convinc'd he'll see,We dread not death, but slavery.
Tho' fatal lust of power, Has steel'd the tyrant's soul,
Tho' in an ill-timed hour, He bid his thunders roll,
Great Liberty, inspir'd by thee, We fly to death or victory!
Great nature's law inspires, All free-born souls unite,
While common interest fires Us to defend our rights,
Against corruption's boundless claim, And firmly fix great freedom's reign.
They foreign troops employ, For mercenary hire;
Their weakness we enjoy, Each pulse new ardors fire;
Convinc'd the wretch who fights for pay, Will never bear the palm away.
They boast their power by sea, The ruin of our trade,
Our navy soon they'll see, Wide o'er the ocean spread;
Britain not long shall boast her reign, O'er the wide empire of the main.
Throughout the universe, Our commerce we'll extend,
Each power on the reverse, Shall seek to be our friends,
Whilst our sons, crown'd with wealth immense, Sing Washington and Common Sense.
Note: The midi file that is linked to this page was sequenced by Barry Taylor, and included in his website, Taylor's Traditional Tunebook. When Mr. Taylor could no longer maintain the website, Lesley Nelson-Burns offered to maintain the midi files created by Taylor on her own website, located at: http://www.contemplator.com/intro.html