Battle Songs

Song Cycle by Michael Rickelton (b. 1983)

Word count: 460

1. Concord Hymn [sung text checked 1 time]

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, [or]1 leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

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1 Rickelton: "and"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Buena Vista [sung text checked 1 time]

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
No rumour of the foe's advance
now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind.

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their father's gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye grave,
Where valor proudly sleeps.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Shiloh [sung text checked 1 time]

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
  The swallows fly low
Over the fields in [clouded]1 days,
  The forest-field of Shiloh --
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
  Around the church of Shiloh --
The church, so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
      And natural prayer
  Of dying foemen mingled there --
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve --
  Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
  But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
  And all is hushed at Shiloh.

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1 Weisgall (?) : "cloudy" (needs to be confirmed)
Note: April 6th-7th, 1862, Shiloh, Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee: General Ulysses S. Grant, leading Union forces (Armies of the Tennessee and of the Ohio), defeated the Confederate Army of the Mississippi under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard. Almost 24,000 soldiers died in the battle.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. In Flanders Fields [sung text checked 1 time]

In Flanders fields the poppies blow;
Between the crosses, row on row 
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though [poppies]1 grow
In Flanders fields.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Dans les champs des Flandres", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , "Auf Flanderns Feld", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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First published anonymously in Punch, December 8, 1915

1 Ives: "the poppies"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]