drum horn

The NWC Songbook

Rouget de L'Isle

A recent discussion in Pierre's Tavern illustrated the depth of emotion stirred by the French national anthem. Originally entitled le Chant de Guerre de l'Armée du Rhin, this 1792 composition by Capitaine Charles-Joseph Rouget de L'Isle (1760-1836) powerfully captures and distills the ardor of la Patrie en danger. Popularized by volunteer battalions from the Marseilles district who adopted it as their marching song, it has come down to us as la Marseillaise. Under the Empire, Napoleon banned the song as excessively Jacobin and republican; this discarding of a truly inspirational song may not have been the least of the Emperor's blunders.

Le Chant de Guerre de l'Armée du Rhin
(La Marseillaise)

La Marseillaise

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie
Fantassin L'étendard sanglant est levé,
Létendard sanglant est levé!
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!


Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons
Qu'un sang impure
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!


French Infantryman

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 ploiraient?
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres des destinées?


Tremblez, tyrans, et vous perfides,
L'opprobe 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.


Garde Nationale, 1793

Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes
À 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!...


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


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


La Marseillaise

Onward, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, the bloody standard
Of tyranny is raised.
Do you hear in our countryside
The bellowing of those ferocious soldiers?
They mean to wrench from your very arms
And slaughter your sons, your partners!

Execution of Louis XVI


To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
March, march,
That impure blood
May overflow our furrows!

What seeks that horde of slaves,
Of traitors, of oath-breaking kings?
For whom these shameful shackles,
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us! Ah! What outrage,
What fury this should excite!
It is us they dare plot
To return to ancient slavery!

Fantassin, 1796

What! These foreign cohorts
Would rule in our homes?
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would lay low our warrior sons?
Great God! By chained hands
Will our heads be bent to the yoke?
Will vile despots become
The masters of our destiny?

Tremble, tyrants, and you turncoats,
Disdained by every faction.
Tremble! For your parricidal plots
You will pay the final price!
Every man is a soldier against you.
If they fall, our young heroes,
France will produce new ones
Full ready to fight against you!

Frenchman, as magnanimous warriors
Deliver or restrain your blows!
Spare those woeful victims
Who unwillingly bear arms against us.
But, as for those bloodthirsty despots,
Those accomplices of Bouillé,
All those tigers who, pitilessly,
Rend the breast of their mother…!

We shall enter the lists
When our elders stand there no more.
There we shall find their dust
And the marks of their virtues.
Far less keen to outlive them
Than to share their destiny,
We shall be sublimely proud
To avenge them or to die like them!

Sacred love of the Fatherland,
Direct and sustain our avenging arms.
Liberty, cherished Liberty,
Fight alongside your defenders.
Under our flags, may victory
Be drawn by your manly voice.
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

Note: General Francois-Claude-Amour Bouillé, 1739-1800, arch-reactionary and royalist, was commander of the Army of Meuse, Sarre, et Moselle in 1790. He became notorious for his brutal suppression of a revolt by the Swiss Chateauvieux Regiment at Nancy on 13 August 1790. He emigrated in June, 1791 and fought against his Revolutionary countrymen.

French couple performing a duet

This words of this ever-popular drinking song are often attributed to none other than Général Antoine-Charles LaSalle (see Meet the Leaders in this issue). While this authorship is subject to doubt, as the song may well have existed in the 18th Century even before LaSalle's birth, it was probably one of his favorites and frequently sung by his troops. It is just the sort of jaunty, Devil-may-care piece that brash young cavalrymen would enjoy. It even foreshadows modern women's liberation, as Fanchon is accepted and celebrated for being "one of the guys" and assertively proves who has control over her body!



Amis, il faut faire une pause.
J'aperçois l'ombre d'une bouchon.
Buvons à l'aimable Fanchon,
Chantons pour elle quelque chose.


Ah que son entretien est doux,
Qu'il a de mérite et de gloire!
Elle aime à rire, elle aime à boire,
Elle aime à chanter comme nous.
Elle aime à rire, elle aime à boire,
Elle aime à chanter comme nous.
Elle aime à rire, elle aime à boire,
Elle aime à chanter comme nous,
Oui comme nous! Oui comme nous!

French Dragoon drinking

Fanchon, quoique bonne chrétienne,
Fut baptisée avec du vin.
Un Bourguignon fut son parrain,
Une Bretonne sa marraine.


Fanchon préfère la grillade
À tous les mets plus delicats.
Son teint prend un nouvel éclat
Quand on lui verse une rasade.


Fanchon ne se montre cruelle
Que lorsqu'on lui parle d'amour,
Mais moi, je ne lui fais la cour
Que pour m'enivrer avec elle.


Un jour le voisin la Grenade
Lui mit la main dans son corset.
Elle riposta d'un soufflet
Sur le museau du camarade.


French girl

Friends, we must take pause.
I spy the shadow of a cork.
Let us drink to adorable Fanchon,
Let us sing something for her.


Ah, how sweet is her company,
So rich with merit and glory!
She loves to laugh, she loves to drink,
She loves to sing, like us.
She loves to laugh, she loves to drink,
She loves to sing, like us.
She loves to laugh, she loves to drink,
She loves to sing, like us,
Yes, like us! Yes, like us!

Fanchon, though a good Christian,
Was baptized with wine.
A Burgundian was her godfather,
A Bretonne her godmother.

Fanchon prefers grilled meats
To other more delicate foods.
Her face glows with joy
When you pour her out a draft.

Fanchon is never cruel
Unless you speak to her of love,
But I, I only court her
To get drunk with her.

One day our friend la Grenade
Put his hand inside her corset.
She responded by punching
Our comrade in the snout!

I can think of no song that better exemplifies the spirit of Colonel Baron Richard Barrett of Lahardane, former journeyman excavator (see Barrett's Canons in this issue), raconteur, bon vivant, and connoisseur.
It should be noted that the protestations of "No, nay, never, no more" in the song, typically sung with foaming tankard in hand, are entirely facetious.

The Wild Irish Rover

The Wild Irish Rover

I've played the wild rover for many's the year,
And I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer.
But now I'm returning, with gold in great store,
And I never will play the wild rover no more!


And it's no! Nay! Never! (clap, clap, clap, clap)
No, nay, never, no more,
Will I play the wild rover, no never, no more!

green beer

I went into an ale-house I used to frequent.
I told the landlady me money was spent.
I asked her for credit, she answered me, "Nay!"
"Such custom as yours I can have any day."


I took from my pocket ten Sovereigns bright,
And the landlady's eyes opened wide with delight.
She said, "I have whiskeys and wines of the best,"
And the words that she'd told me were only in jest!


I'll go home to me parents, confess what I've done,
And ask them to pardon their Prodigal Son.
And when they've caressed me, as oft-times before,
Then I never will play the wild rover no more!

(Chorus, twice)

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