Rule Britannia

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X:1 % T:Rule Britannia M:C L:1/8 R:Air and March B:James Aird – Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3 (Glasgow, 1788, No. 524, p. 200) N:”Humbly dedicated to the Volunteers and Defensive Bands of Great Britain and Ireland” Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D A|:d2d2 (d/e/f/g/) ad|e2 {fg}g2f2 zA|d/e/d/e/ f/g/f/g/ aefe|d(e/f/e)d {d}c2zA| e2 dc a^g/f/ e/d/c/B/|A2B2A2z2|{Bc}d2 dABG zf|gfed {d}c2 ze| Ta2 Tg2 f/d/g/e/ a/f/e/d/|A2Te2 {de}d4||f3f g/f/g/ zf| gfed {d}Tc2c2|Ta2Tg2 (f/d/)(g/e/) (a/f/e/d/)|A2Te2 {de}d4:|]



RULE, BRITANNIA. AKA and see “Smile America.” English, Air (cut time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The music was composed by Dr. Thomas Augustine Arne for his masque of Alfred (some sources say the opera was The Judgement o’ Paris), first performed as the end of an entertainment before Frederick, Prince of Wales, at Clivedon House, near Maidenhead, August, 1740, under the title “When Britain First.” The opera was revived in 1759 and the song was printed in Clio and Euterpe, or British Harmony, vol. 1 (1758) under the “Rule, Britannia” title. Lyrics were the work of Scottish poet James Thomson. Emmerson (1972) states the song was inspired by imperialistic fervor engendered by the so-called War of Jenkins' Ear, in which England vied with Spain in dispute of access to the South American continent. As a nationalistic song it was a favorite of British troops in the American Revolution, who also used the titles “When Britain First by Heav’ns Come” and “Hail Britain, Hail thou Glory’s Pride.” As with several popular British songs, the tune was co-opted by the Americans with new lyrics, and appears in the Henry Beck Manuscript (p. 9) of 1786 as “Smile America.” For more, see Chappell's (1859) discussion of the piece. Peter Mackenzie, "the genial reminiscer of Glasgow" (Emmerson, 1971), mentions the tune as one of the favorite songs of the early 19th century in Lowlands Scots centers.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3), Glasgow, 1788; No. 524, p. 200. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times, vol. 2), 1859; pp. 191-192.

Recorded sources: -



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