Music Videos

Fortnight For Freedom: Battle Cries of Freedom

fortnight for freedom 2016

Something for a Fourth of July weekend.  The Battle Cry of Freedom was a popular song North and South during the Civil War.  Of course they sang different lyrics to the song.  The Union version was such a favorite among the Union troops, that President Lincoln, in a letter to George F. Root, the composer, wrote:  “You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand  orators. If you could not shoulder a musket in defense of your country, you certainly have served her through your songs.”

Here is the Southern version sung by Bobby Horton who has waged a one man campaign to bring Civil War music to modern audiences:


Here is the version from the Lincoln (2012) movie:

Continue reading

The Wearing of the Green


When the law can stop the blades of grass from growing as they grow..
And when the leaves, in Summer time, their verdure does not show..
Then, I will change the color I wear in my cabbeen:
But, till that day, please God! I’ll stick to the Wearing of the Green!

Wearing of the Green




Something for the weekend.  The weekend before Saint Patrick’s Day seemed an appropriate time for Irish music, and you don’t get more Irish than  The Wearing of the Green.  Written in 1798 by that most prolific of songsters, Anonymous, the song is a lament and a cry of defiance against the repression imposed by the British on Ireland following the defeat of the Irish rising in 1798.  British misrule in Ireland accounts for the fact that ten percent of Americans claim predominantly Irish ancestry.  The tune as a result has always been popular in  America.  After the Civil War, Anonymous took up his pen in 1865 and wrote The Wearing of the Gray to the same tune.



Continue reading

Handel’s Advent Messiah

The Advent portions of Handel’s Messiah.  The above video is the Overture.

Next we have “Comfort Ye” which is a messianic text from Isaiah 40.

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for
our God. ”

Continue reading

Worker Songs


Something for a Labor Day weekend.  A parody of The Internationale, the marching song of Communism.   In America, the most popular songs about working tend to be fairly apolitical.  Sixteen Tons, written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1946, became a million record seller with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rendition in 1955:


Clearly stating the terrible conditions for many mine workers in the forties of the last century, it does not call for revolution or, indeed, any sort of political action.   There are much more political songs about working in the US of course, but they are of limited popularity.


My personal two favorite work songs are from Disney:


Continue reading

Just As I Am


Something for the weekend.  Johnny Cash singing Just As I Am.  Used as the altar call song in Billy Graham Crusades, it was written in 1835 by Charlotte Elliott.  It has a simple power about it as it relates a sinner coming before God for pardon:

Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – though toss’d about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
-O Lamb of God, I come! Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Yankee Doodle

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

Something for a Fourth of July weekend:  Yankee Doodle.

 Originally sung by British officers to disparage American troops who fought beside them in the French and Indian War, it was seized upon by Patriots, given endless lyrics, and cheered the patriot troops and civilians during the eight long years of the Revolution.  After Lexington and Concord it was reported by Massachusetts newspapers that the British were suddenly not as fond of the song:

“Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — ‘Dang them,’ returned he, ‘they made us dance it till we were tired’ — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears.”

James Cagney did an immortal riff on Yankee Doodle in the musical biopic of composer and actor George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942):

Yankee Doodle plays in the background as Cagney at the end of the film, entirely impromptu, dances down the White House staircase:

Continue reading



Something for the weekend.  Well, after a February of frequent below zero temps and constant snow and ice, the snow has finally melted where I live, with just a few remnant patches.  Time for some classical music for Spring courtesy of Vivaldi, Strauss and Schumann.

Christopher Columbus Trilogy



Your Highnesses have an Other World here, by which our holy faith can be so greatly advanced and from which such great wealth can be drawn.

Christopher Columbus, letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1498


Something for the weekend.  With Christopher Columbus day coming up, a trilogy of pieces on Christopher Columbus.  From 1936 Fats Waller belting out Christopher Columbus. A jaunty tune whose cheerful historical illiteracy is set forth early in the song with the claim that Columbus did not have a compass:

Mister Christopher Columbus
Sailed the sea without a compass
When his men began a-rumpus,
Up spoke Christopher Columbus!

There’s land somewhere
‘Til we get there
We will not go wrong,
If we sail with a song.

Since the world is round-o
We’ll be safe and sound-o
‘Til our goal is found-o
We’ll just keep rhythm-bound-o

Since the crew was making merry,
Mary got up and went home.
There came a yell for Isabel
And they brought on the rum and Isabel.

No more mutiny, no.
What a time at sea!
With diplomacy,
Christopher made history.

Mister Christopher Columbus
He used rhythm as a compass.
Music ended all the rumpus,
wise old Christopher Columbus.

(Latch on Christy, yeah! Uh huh! Yes, yes, yes!)

(Well, looky there!
Christy’s grabbed the Santa Maria and he’s going back!
Yeah, ahhh looky-there!
In the year 1492,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue… what’d I say?)


From 1949 the musical score from the technicolor movie Christoher Columbus.  The film is forgotten today, which is a pity.  While containing a plenitude of the usual historical howlers that period films are ere too, Fredric March gives us a powerful, albeit irascible, portrayal of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.  Definitely worth watching. Continue reading

Civil War Medleys North and South

Something for the weekend.  In 1963 the Robert Shaw Chorale released an album This Is My Country that had songs from American history.  The above is the Civil War medley for the South and below is the Civil War medley for the North:


Continue reading

The Army of the Free

Something for a Veteran’s Day weekend.  The Army of the Free, one of the more rousing of the Civil War songs, set to the tune of The Wearing of the Green.    It is sung by the immortal Tennessee Ernie Ford, who, like so many natives of The Volunteer State, had ancestors who fought on both sides of the War.

And here is another rendition, sung by Bobby Horton, who has waged a one man crusade to bring the music of the Civil War to modern audiences.

Continue reading

What’s the Matter Stephen Foster?

Something for the weekend.  That’s What’s the Matter by Stephen Foster.  The Civil War probably killed Stephen Foster.  The most notable American composer of his time, in a day when copyright enforcement was nil, Foster always just managed to scratch out a precarious living.  As the beginning of the song indicates with the coming of the War many of the songs he had written in peace were no longer in demand.

Broke and suffering from a persistent fever, deserted by his wife who had taken their daughter to live in Pittsburgh in 1861, Foster fell in his hotel room in New York City on January 10, 1864 and gashed his head on a wash basin.  He was admitted to Bellevue and died three days later, at age 37.  Ironically his most successful song, Beautiful Dreamer, was published a few months after his death: Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Liberty Song

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

Something for the Weekend.  Liberty Song.  Written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768, the song was sung by patriots in America to the tune of Heart of OakThe video above is the most hilarious scene from the John Adams mini-series where a completely fish out of water John Adams gets donations for the American cause from French aristocrats as they sing the Liberty Song, led by Ben Franklin who is obviously immensely enjoying himself.  It is a good song for Americans to recall, and perhaps especially so in this year of grace, 2013.


Continue reading

Her Southern Soldier Boy

The gentlemen killed and the gentlemen died,

But she was the South’s incarnate pride

That mended the broken gentlemen

And sent them out to the war again,

That kept the house with the men away

And baked the bricks where there was no clay,

Made courage from terror and bread from bran

And propped the South on a swansdown fan

Through four long years of ruin and stress,

The pride–and the deadly bitterness.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Something for the weekend.  Written in 1863 by Captain G. W. Alexander, The Southern Soldier Boy is a fitting tribute to the ragged warriors of the Confederacy who maintained an unequal struggle for four years and the women who loved and sustained them.  During the War it was popularized by actress Sally Partington, the toast of Richmond, who would sing the song as part of the play The Virginia Cavalier.  The above version is by Bobby Horton, who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences. Continue reading

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Something for the weekend. Give Me That Old Time Religion.  This sequence from Sergeant York (1941) demonstrates the power of this traditional hymn first published in 1873.  It was originally a hymn sung by Black congregations, and was introduced to White congregations in 1891 by Charles Davis Tillman.  It began the convergence of Black gospel singing with White gospel singing to form Southern Gospel singing.

Here is a version sung by The Caravans in 1954.

Continue reading

Stonewall Jackson’s Way

“And Thou knowest O Lord, when Thou didst decide that the Confederacy should not succeed, Thou hadst first to remove thy servant, Stonewall Jackson.”

Father D. Hubert, Chaplain, Hay’s Louisiana Brigade, upon the dedication of the statue of Stonewall Jackson on May 10, 1881 in New Orleans

Something for the weekend.  After the 150th anniversary of Chancellorsville only Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, seems appropriate.  The song is a fitting evocation of the man, who, if he had not been mortally wounded at Chancellorsville, might well have with Lee brought about a war ending victory for the Confederacy at Gettysburg.  I fully agree with Father Hubert that the death of General Jackson was probably a necessary factor in the defeat of the Confederacy.  As a military team he and Lee were able to accomplish military miracles and with his death the Confederacy could still rely upon the endless courage of their ragged warriors and the brilliance of Lee, but the age of military miracles in the Civil War ended with the passing of Jackson.

The song was taken from a poem found on the body of a dead Confederate sergeant after the First Battle of Winchester, May 25, 1862: Continue reading

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Something for the Weekend.  We Three Kings of Orient Are.  If ever our nation needed the hope and love brought into the world by Christ, it was in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 when this great hymn first appeared in print.  Written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., a deacon of the Episcopal Church in 1875, this song captures well the longing of all Christians during Advent for Christmas, the commemoration of the birth of the Alpha and the Omega. Continue reading

Follow The American Catholic
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .