Lillibullero

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Lillibullero (also sometimes spelled Lillibulero or Lilliburlero[1]) is a march that seems to have been known at the time of the English Civil War.[2] According to the BBC, it "started life as a jig with Irish roots, whose first appearance seems to be in a collection published in London in 1661 entitled 'An Antidote Against Melancholy', where it is set to the words 'There was an old man of Waltham Cross'."[3] The lyrics generally said to be by Thomas, Lord Wharton were set to the tune of an older satirical ballad.

The most popular lyrics refer to the Williamite war in Ireland 1689–91, which arose out of the Glorious Revolution. In this episode the Catholic King James II, unsure of the loyalty of his army, fled England after an invasion by Dutch forces under the Protestant William III. William was invited by Parliament to the throne. James II then tried to reclaim the crown with the help of France and his Catholic supporters in Ireland led by Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell. His hopes of using Ireland to reconquer England were thwarted at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. The song Lillibullero puts words into the mouths of Irish Catholic Jacobites and satirises their sentiments, pillorying the supporters of the Catholic King James. It was said to have 'sung James II out of three kingdoms'.

A Scottish origin for the tune has been argued, as music for a rhyme called Jumping Joan or Joan's Placket.[4] The music has also been attributed to Henry Purcell. Although Purcell published Lillibullero in his compilation Music's Handmaid of 1689 as "a new Irish tune", it is probable that Purcell appropriated the tune as his own, a common practice in the musical world of the time.[citation needed] It is the BBC World Service's signature tune. A French version is known as the Marche du Prince d'Orange, and is attributed to Louis XIV's court composers Philidor the Elder and Jean-Baptiste Lully.[citation needed]

Lyrics[edit]


Ho, brother Teague, dost hear the decree?
Lillibullero bullen a la
We are to have a new deputy
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain:
Lero Lero Lillibullero
Lillibullero bullen a la
Lero Lero Lero Lero
Lillibullero bullen a la
Oh by my soul it is a Talbot
Lillibullero bullen a la
And he will cut every Englishman's throat
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain
Now Tyrconnell is come ashore
Lillibullero bullen a la
And we shall have commissions galore
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain
And everyone that won't go to Mass
Lillibullero bullen a la
He will be turned out to look like an ass
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain
Now the heretics all go down
Lillibullero bullen a la
By Christ and St Patrick's the nation's our own
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain
There was an old prophecy found in a bog
Lillibullero bullen a la
The country'd be ruled by an ass and a dog
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain
Now this prophecy is all come to pass
Lillibullero bullen a la
For Talbot's the dog and Tyrconnell's the ass
Lillibullero bullen a la
Refrain

An explanation of the lyrics[edit]

The lyrics of the song are very closely related to Irish politics of the 1680s and '90s. "Teague" or Taig was (and is) a derisive term for the Irish Catholics – derived from the Irish first name "Tadhg". The "new Deputy" refers to Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, who was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland by James II in 1687. The first Irishman and Roman Catholic to hold the post in nearly 200 years, he quickly filled the army in Ireland with Catholic officers (hence "we will have commissions galore") and recruits, alarming the Protestant community and raising the hopes of the Irish Catholic community for a restoration of their lands and political power ("by Christ and St Patrick, the nation's our own" – the reference may also be to Dublin's two Cathedrals: Christ Church – more properly Holy Trinity – and St Patrick's). The Catholic resurgence awakened fears amongst Irish Protestants of a massacre, similar to that which had happened in the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

The song parodies the widespread Irish belief in prophecy[citation needed] ("there was an old prophecy found in a bog, that Ireland'd be ruled by an ass and a dog"). Talbot, as well as being a name, is a breed of hound or hunting dog. A common theme of such prophecies was that the foreigners would be driven out of Ireland in some decisive battle.[citation needed] See the Siege of Limerick, for an example of these attitudes. The song's title and the words of the refrain have been interpreted as a garbled version of the Irish words Lile ba léir é, ba linn an lá, "Lilly was clear and ours was the day". The lily may be a reference to the fleur de lis of France, or to a popular interpreter of prophecies named William Lilly, who had prophesied in the late 16th century that a Catholic would come to the throne of England. Alternatively, the lyrics could mean, "Lilly is clear [about this], the day will be ours". It is also thought that "Lilli" is a familiar form of William, and that bullero comes from the Irish "Buaill Léir ó", which gives: "William defeated all that remained".

The Protestant Boys[edit]

Other words have been set to the tune. Of these words, the best-known is The Protestant Boys, an Ulster Protestant folk lyric which is played by flute bands accompanying the Orange Order during Orange or band-only parades, a small minority of which have been made the subject of controversy during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These lyrics begin:

The Protestant Boys are loyal and true
Stout hearted in battle and stout-handed too
The Protestant Boys are true to the last
And faithful and peaceful when danger has passed
And Oh! they bear and proudly wear
The colours that floated o'er many a fray
Where cannon were flashing
And sabres were clashing
The Protestant Boys still carried the day.

Nottingham Ale[edit]

"Nottingham Ale" is an English drinking song sung to the tune of "Lillibullero"

When Venus, the goddess of beauty and love
Arose from the broth that swam on the sea
Minerva sprang out, from the cranium of Jove
A coy, sullen dame, as most authors agree
But Bacchus, they tell us, that prince of good fellas
Was Jupiter's son, pray attend to my tale
And those that dost patter, mistake not the matter
He sprang from a bottle of Nottingham Ale!
Refrain:
Nottingham Ale, boys, Nottingham Ale
No liquor on earth is like Nottingham Ale!
Nottingham Ale, boys, Nottingham Ale
No liquor on earth is like Nottingham Ale!
Now you bishops and deacons, priests, curates and vicars
When once you have tasted, you'll know it is true
That Nottingham Ale, it's the best of all liquors
And none understand what is good as do you
It dispels every vapour, saves pen, ink and paper
When you've a mind from your pulpit to rail
It can open your throats, you can preach without notes
When inspired by a bottle of Nottingham Ale
Refrain
Now you doctors who more executions have done
With powder and potion and bolus and pill
Than hangman with noose, a soldier with gun
A miser with famine, a lawyer with quill
To dispatch us the quicker, forbid us malt liquor
'Til our bodies consume and our faces grow pale
But mind who he pleases, what cures all diseases
'Tis a comforting bottle of Nottingham Ale
Refrain

Overtures from Richmond[edit]

Yet another set of lyrics[5] set to the tune at the time of the American Civil War is attributed to the ballad scholar Francis J. Child, born in Boston in 1825. It is a satire on Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, and perhaps refers to the Hampton Roads Conference.

1. "Well, Uncle Sam," says Jefferson D.,
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"You'll have to join my Confed'racy,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that don't appear-o,
That don't appear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
That don't appear," says old Uncle Sam.
2. "So, Uncle Sam, just lay down your arms,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"Then you shall hear my reas'nable terms,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, I'd like to hear-o
I'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
I'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam.
3. "First you must own I've beat you in a fight,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"then that I always have been in the right,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, rather severe-o,
rather severe," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
Rather severe," says old Uncle Sam.
4. "Then you must pay my national debts,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"No questions asked about my assets,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that's very dear-o,
That's very dear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
That's very dear," says old Uncle Sam.
5. "Also some few IOUs and bets,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"Mine, and Bob Toombs', and Sidell's and Rhett's,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that leaves me zero,
That leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
That leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam.
6. "And by the way, one little thing more,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"You're to refund the costs of the war,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, just what I fear-o,
Just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
Just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam.
7. "Next you must own our Cavalier blood!"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"And that your Puritans sprang from the mud!"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that mud is clear-o,
That mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
That mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam.
8. "Slavery's, of course, the chief corner-stone,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"Of our new civilisation!"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that's quite sincere-o,
That's quite sincere," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
That's quite sincere," says old Uncle Sam.
9. "You'll understand, my recreant tool,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"You're to submit, and we are to rule,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, aren't you a hero!
Aren't you a hero," says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
Aren't you a hero," says Uncle Sam.
10. "If to these terms you fully consent,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"I'll be perpetual King-President,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, take your sombrero,
Off to your swamps," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero,
Cut, double quick!" says old Uncle Sam.

The BBC and Lillibullero[edit]

The tune of Lillibullero was adopted by the British Broadcasting Corporation's World War II programme Into Battle and became the unofficial march of the Commandos of the British Army. Since its association with the BBC's role in the war, various recordings of Lillibullero have been played by the BBC as an interval signal. These include a marching band and a symphony orchestra. In the 1970s a rousing recording by the band of HM Royal Marines was replaced by a weaker and quieter version by a brass ensemble, on the grounds that the band record had worn out. The wrath of the world-wide listening audience descended on Bush House, and the Marines version was reinstated, after a producer had luckily found another record in a second-hand shop. The most recent recording, written by David Arnold and performed by a string orchestra, was until recently played on the BBC World Service several times a day. A shortened version is currently sometimes played just before the top of the hour before the news.[3]

A well-regarded argument for the persistence of Lillibullero as a signature tune of the BBC World Service was that its powerful and simple structure was an effective means of identifying the broadcaster. The engineers who selected it were unaware of its origins, though a BBC World Service history states that the choice of interval theme at the time was that of "the transmission engineers who found it particularly audible through short wave mush, and anyway [the BBC] knew it as a tune for the old English song "There was an old woman tossed up in a blanket, 20 times as high as the moon". Another likely reason for the particular choice of this tune during World War II is that its opening bars sound the 'Victory V' rhythm (dit dit dit dah, repeated) ie. the letter V in Morse code, which was used in various forms by the BBC in its home and foreign services."."[6]

The recently launched BBC Persian TV service makes use of a re-mixed version of Lillibullero as the title theme for its music programmes. Both the music magazine and music documentaries[7] have cuts of the tune with a Persian instrumental twist.

REME[edit]

Lillibullero is the (official) Regimental March of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (abbrev. REME). This Corps was established during the Second World War and so the BBC's official wartime use of Lillibullero described above may well have played a part in its selection by REME, but it seems more likely that the BBC's reliance on REME for its wartime development and coverage led to the BBC adopting the march at around that time as a signature tune (as mentioned previously). This is born by the fact that the melody had long been in use in military music, and that the foundation of REME is inextricably linked to many of those regiments.

Lillibullero in fiction[edit]

Laurence Sterne's experimental and comic novel Tristram Shandy, published between 1759 and 1767 in nine volumes, hints at the great popularity of Lillibullero. Tristram's uncle, Captain Toby Shandy, a British Army veteran of the fighting in Ireland and the Low Countries during King William's reign, whistles the tune to Lillibullero when he is offered any opinion or argument which would require passionate rebuttal or which he finds embarrassing or upsetting.

In Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, the highland Chieftain Fergus Mac-Ivor sings a verse of Lillibulero during a dinner before he and his comrades prepare for battle on the side of the Pretender.

One of the scoundrels in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" whistles the tune.

Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle also makes mention of Lillibulero's use as anti-Catholic propaganda.

In the film Barry Lyndon (1975) Lillibullero is heard near the start as Barry's regiment assembles at Swords Castle to embark for the Seven Years' War.

One of the main characters of Philip K. Dick's novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is named Leo Bulero.

The tune is used in The Last Man Out and Raid on Rommel.

The tune is used during the title credits in the period adventure East of Sudan (1964).

There Was An Old Woman[edit]

The Victorian nursery rhyme There Was An Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket, published in the collection Mother Goose[8] is sung to the tune of Lillibulero.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Definition of Lilliburlero from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Macaulay's "History of England" vol.3 pg. 214
  3. ^ a b "What is the BBC World Service signature tune?". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Stenhouse, John, Illustrations of the lyric poetry of Scotland, (1853), p.483-4: Strickland, Agnes, Lives of the Queens of Scotland, vol.7 (1858), p.487 footnote, notes an Oxford manuscript of the music for Jumping Joan in slow funereal tempo, claimed to have been played during the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots: Greig, G. R., Family History of England, vol.2 (1836), p.110-1, prints tune said to be played at Mary's execution.
  5. ^ Silber, Irwin. Songs of the Civil War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960.
  6. ^ see:. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_World_Service where this is uncited, and http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/23542 that cites this passage. Also see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-david-cox-1265281.html for an obituary of its BBC composer David Cox.
  7. ^ [1] (Persian)
  8. ^ http://www.nurseryrhymesonline.com/old_woman_tossed_up_in_a_basket_illustrated_by_ww_denslow-9851.php
  9. ^ http://tigerlilyworkshop.com/Wordpp/Lilibur.html

External links[edit]