The Minstrel Boy
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Barry Taylor

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John Renfro Davis
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Lyrics
The words are by Thomas Moore (1779-1852). (The last verse is a later addition.) The tune is an Ancient Irish Air The Moreen.

In 1798 two of Moore's friends participated in the rebellion of the United Irishmen. One died in prison, another was wounded and another later hung. He refused to testify against them.

For a complete list of tunes by Thomas Moore at this site, search for Thomas Moore in the search engine or see the Contemplator's Short Biography of Thomas Moore.

The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!"


Verse added later:

The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news, we all will cheer it,
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as Heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended.
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From
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of Folk Songs and Ballads of All Nations

See Bibliography for full information.