The Minstrel-boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him
His father's sword he has girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him.
"Land of Song!", said the warrior bard,
“Though all the world betray thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard
One faithful harp shall praise thee."
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's steel
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! "
An emotionally stirring and inspirational song, "The Minstrel Boy" was written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) who set it to the melody of "The Moreen", and old Irish aire. It is believed by many that Moore composed the song as a memorial to several of his friends he had met while a student at Trinity College and who had participated in the 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen. Due to its popularity, the song was a favorite of the many Irishmen who fought during the U.S. Civil War, primarily on the Union side.
- Lesley Nelson's Folk Music Site