Diggers' Song

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The "Diggers' Song" (also known as "Levellers and Diggers") is a 17th-century ballad, in terms of content a protest song concerned with land rights, inspired by the Diggers movement, composed by Gerrard Winstanley. The lyrics were published in 1894 by the Camden Society. It is sung to a version of the family of tunes later used for Sam Hall, Captain Kidd and Admiral John Benbow, which according to Roy Palmer was first printed in 1714. The English band Chumbawamba recorded a version of this song on their 1988 album English Rebel Songs 1381-1914.

It is often thought that "The World Turned Upside Down" (not to be confused with the 17th century ballad of the same title), composed by Leon Rosselson in 1975, taken into the charts in 1985 by Billy Bragg, and performed by several other artists, is a version of "Diggers' Song".[citation needed] In May 2009 Leon Rosselson corrected this belief in the Guardian newspaper:[1]

I wrote the song in 1974 ... It's the story of the Digger Commune of 1649 and their vision of the earth as 'a common treasury'. It's become a kind of anthem for various radical groups, particularly since Billy Bragg recorded it [1985], and is not adapted from any other song. The title is taken from Christopher Hill's book about the English revolution.

Chumbawamba also released a version of Rosselson's composition on their 1993 single Timebomb. Also, Chumbawamba sang The Diggers' Song in 1988 on their LP English Rebel Songs 1381-1914 and they recorded it again in 2003 for the re-made CD English Rebel Songs 1381-1984. In 2007, they sang it on their live CD Get On With It—Live. Lyrics

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The waste land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging do distain and your persons all defame
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,
Your houses they pull down, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down to fright poor men in town,
But the gentry must come down and the poor shall wear the crown.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now, stand up now,
With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now.
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could and rights from you withhold.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Their self-will is their law, stand up now, stand up now,
Their self-will is their law, stand up now.
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaol a gin and to serve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentry are all round, stand up now, stand up now,
The gentry are all round, stand up now.
The gentry are all round, on each side they are found,
Their wisdom's so profound to cheat us of the ground.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,
The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now,
To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,
But the devil in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,
The clergy they come in, stand up now.
The clergy they come in and say it is a sin
That we should now begin our freedom for to win.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now,
'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst Priests, stand up now.
For tyrants are they both even flat against their oath,
To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now.
The club is all their law to keep poor folk in awe,
Buth they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Glory now, Diggers all.

The song was selected by the Rt Hon Tony Benn when he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sun 15th Jan 1989 [2]

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