Their blood flowed as freely (in proportion to their numbers) to cement the fabric of independence as that of any of their fellow-citizens: They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men, in recommending and promoting that government, from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order and civil and religious liberty.
John Carroll, first American bishop, on American Catholics in the Revolution
Something for the weekend. Chester, America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution. This fits in well with the Fortnight of Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops in resistance to encroachments by government on our religious liberty.
Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence. The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever-present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.
Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.
We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.
Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,
With Prescott and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal league combined.
When God inspired us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke,
their lines were forced,
Their ships were shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.
The foe comes on with haughty stride,
Our troops advance with martial noise;
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And gen’rals yield to beardless boys.
What grateful off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud hallelujahs let us sing,
And praise his name on ev’ry chord!
Here is a spirited rendition:
And to finish, an orchestral version: