Norah, Dear Norah
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This tune is from the English opera Poor Soldier, by William Shield (1748-1829). Shield wrote the opera in 1783 and it was as popular in America as in Britain. The tune was sung by the Poor Soldier, himself, Pat.

William Shield was originally a boat builder. He became the opera composer for the Drury Lane Theatre.

According to The Music That Washington Knew, the opera was Washington's favorite.

Tho' Leixlip is proud
Of its close shady bowers,
It's clear falling waters,
Its murm'ring cascades;
Its groves of fine myrtle,
Its beds of sweet flowers,
Its lads so well dressed
And its neat pretty maids.
As each his own village
Will still make the most of,
In praise of dear Carton
I hope I'm not wrong.

Dear Carton containing
What Kingdoms may boast of,
'Tis Norah, dear Norah,
The theme of my song.
Dear Carton containing
What Kingdoms may boast of,
'Tis Norah, dear Norah,
The theme of my song.


Be gentlemen fine,
With their spurs and their boots on,
Their horses to start
On the Curragh of Kildare;
Or danced at a ball
With their Sunday new suits on,
Laced waistcoat, white gloves,
And their nice powder'd hair.
Poor Pat, while so blest,
In his mean, humble station,
For gold or acres he never shall long.

One sweet smile can give him,
The wealth of a nation,
From Norah, dear Norah,
The theme of my song.
One sweet smile can give him,
The wealth of a nation,
From Norah, dear Norah,
The theme of my song.
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From The Music That Washington Knew
See Bibliography for full information.