The James Connolly Songbook
Cork Workers Club
October 1972

No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and hopes, the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement - it is a dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude---James Connolly
(Introduction to Songs of Freedom, New York, 1907.


When man shall stand erect at last,
And drink at Wisdom's fountain,
And to the earth in scorn shall cast
The chains his limbs are bound in
Then from his loins a race shall spring
Fit peer of gods and heroes
O, blest be they whose efforts bring
That day and hour more near us

O, Slaves of toil, no craven fear,
Nor dread of fell disasters
Need daunt ye now, then up, and clear
The earth of lords and masters

Like brazen serpent raised on high
In Israelite tradition
Our cause in each believing eye,
When slavery's abolition,
We see the day when man shall rise,
And, firm on science building,
From Theft's thick mask of fraud and lies
Stript all the specious gilding


O, blest are they whom wind and tide
Are wafting fortune's graces
And blest the man whose blushing bride
Returns his rapt embraces,
And blest is he who has a friend
To shield his name when slandered
But blest o'er all they who contend
And march in Freedom's vanguard



Arouse! The rallying cry
Sends its chorus up on high,
Let craven cowards fly
To the rear
While we rally to the fight
To our combat for the Right
And Oppression put to flight
We swear,

For tyrants we have fought,
And our blood (their gold has bought),
They have laished, caring naught,
In red streams,
But the fight we have begun,
On this earth shall ne'er be done
Till the light of Freedom's sun
On us gleams.

At our lot might angels weep
While we toil our master sleep,
What we make our masters keep,
And our gains,
Are the wage--to buy our food,
The poor shelter for our brood,
And the fever which our blood
Ever Drains

By our toil they keep their state,
On our woes they rise, elate,
Yet wonder when our hate
To them ascends
Where we build they enter in,
What we earn those spoilers win,
But we swear our slavery's sin
Soon shall end,

The arouse! ye workers all,
Braving scaffold, sword and ball,
And at Labour's trumpet call
Quick appear,
For the day we long have sought,
For which our fathers fought-
The day with Freedom fraught
Now is here!


Up brothers up! The drums are beating,
And see on high the banners wave,
Close up your ranks let no retreating
Be ours while earth contains a slave
Till all alike our triumph won
Behold the spendour of the sun,
And drink of wisdom's holiest spring,
This is the prize our armies bring

A holy war for Labour's right
A holy war for Labour's right,
For labour's cause for labour's cause,
Shall win, shall win----the fight

O, Brothers, we whose hosts uncounted
Must toil to earn a scanty wage
Whose backs were bent that robbers mounted
Might ride thereon from age to age
No longer now in thraldom grown
Your strong right hand must make your own
And by that act to manhood spring!
This is the prize our armies bring!


The tyrant hopes a conquering sword
Shall stem the onward march of right
But truth o'er all their barbarous horde
Leads Freedom's host to Freedom's height!
To break the sword of War and Pain
That Peace and Joy o'er Earth may reign
And conquering hosts of Labour sing--
This is the prize our armies bring!


(air-Sean O Duibir an Gleanna)

Our message send again
Pealing thro hill and glen,
Freedom from dread of want,
From hunger, lean and gaunt
From all the ills that daunt
And keep us in thrall,

Up on the mountain side
Far o'er the ocean tide
Circling the world wide
That message is borne
Bringing to those whose hearts
Are neeth the strings and darts
Bondage to man imparts
Hope of Freedom's morn.

Morning when all shall rise
And face, with gladdened eyes,
The truth what Freedom lies
In Labour's arms alone
Labour, which makes to bloom
Mountain steppe and desert gloom
Yet finds this life a tomb
And each hour a moan

Moaning for manhood lost
For noble purposes crossed
For hoes and bright dreams tossed
In that yawning grave
Where wealth the tyrant stands
Grasping with greedy hands
And binding in iron bands
The life of its slave

That message send again
Peeling thro hill and glen,
Freedom for working men
Is freedom for all
Freedom from dread of want
From hunger lean and gaunt
From all the ills that daunt
And keep us in thrall


Come workers, sing a rebel song, a song of love and hate,
Of love unto the lowly, and of hatred to the great
The great who trod our fathers down, who steal our children's bread,
Whose hand of greed is stretched to rob the living and the dead

Then sing our rebel song, as we proudly sweep along
To end the age-long tyranny that makes for human tears
Our march is nearer done with each setting of the sun,
And the tyrant's might is passing with the passing of the years.

We sing no song of wailing, and no song of sights or tears,
High are our hopes and stout our hearts, and banished all our fears
Our flag is raised above us so that all the world may see
'Tis Labour's faith and Labour's arm alone can labour free.


Out from the depths of misery we march with hearts aflame,
With wrath against the rulers false who wreck our menhoods name
The serf who licks his tyrants rod may bend forgiving knee.
The slave who breaks his slavery's chain a wrathful man must be.

Our army Marches onward with its face towards the dawn,
In trust secure in that one thing the slave may lean upon,
The might within the arm of him who, knowing Freedom's worth,
Strikes home to banish tyranny from off the face of earth



When Labour calls her children forth,
A waiting world to win,
Earth's noblest breed, true men of worth,
Her ranks shall enter in,
Then, comrades all, prepare that we
May hear that call anon,
And drive the hosts of tyranny
Like clouds before the dawn,
And drive our foes,
And drive our foes,
Our foes like clouds before the dawn

Thou knowest, long has Labour groaned,
A robbed and beaten thrall,
Whilst Capital, on high enthroned
Reign'd, lording over all,
But Time rolled on, and Earth and Sky
New powers to man revealed,
And Science echos Labour's cry,
King Capital must yield,
At last must yield,
At last must yield,
King Capital at last must yield!

We work and wait till womb of Time
Shall give fair Freedom birth,
To Labour's hosts that hope sublime
Regenerates the earth
And by that hope we toilers fired
To nobler deeds shall be,
That we may guide by it inspired
Our Class to Liberty,
To Liberty,
To Liberty
To guide our Class to Liberty!


Lift that flag and tenderly guard it,
Guard it as a lover would guard his love,
Ours be the shame if aught debarred it
Freely floating our ranks above
Raise that pledge of our hope, and daring
All that the tyrant can do or essay,
Strike, and the fetters they long are wearing
From the limbs of Labour shall pass away.

Guard that flag, for brothers 'tis ours,
Ours the life-blood that gave it its hue,
For us it waved thro' darkest hours,
Waiting till Labour its destiny knew,
Hail that flag, now floating on high
Free, as the eagle flies to the sun,
Token and sign that man may die
But Freedom persists till all is won,

Pledge (t)hat flag, my brothers, your glasses
Never were drained to a holier toast--
Never shall Time reveal as it passes
A grander mission than Labour can boast,
Fill up the glass no stinted measure
Will serve to toast this day with me
The Cause we love, the Hope we treasure,
The Flag that beckons to Liberty.

From James Connolly: Songs of Freedom, New York 1907


Comrades, clasp hands,
The time demands
This night we spend enjoying
The jovial word
Round festive board,
Grim carking care destroying
Liquour this night
Shall sparkle bright,
With homage pay to Beauty,
And brave men who
Oft conflict knew,
Shall take a rest from duty.

Then fill the cup
With liquor up,
Pledge evr'y man his neighbor,
That in the light
Of Truth he'll fight
To win the world for labour.

Comrades, the tears
O(u)r Class thro years
Hath Shed the wide world over,
Have taken root
And soon the fruit
Our tyrants shall discover
And when at length
We show our strength,
And send each despot flying,
With joy and mirth
Like ours the Earth
Shall hail Oppression dying


For who with zest
Can laugh the best
But he who laughs the longest
And in the fight
Twixt wrong and right
The laugh is with the strongest

Since time began
Fate's mighty plan
The laugh gave to the proudest
But History Shall tend that w(e)
Did laugh the last and loudest

Then, comrades, toast
Great Freedom's host,
And loudly sing her praises,
And honored be,
O'er land and sea
Whoe'er her banner raises,
So, ere we leave,
A wreath we'll weave
Of flow'rs of Earth's best gleaning
With Maid and Wife,
With Hope of Life
Free from a tyrant's scheming

(air-the Boys of Wexford)

Our feet upon the upward path
Are set where none may tread
Save those who to the rich man's wrath
Dare turn rebellious head
And heart as brave no cringing slave
In all our ranks appears
Our proudest boast, in Labour's host
Were Freedom's Pioneers

O, slaves may beg and cowards whine
We scorn their foolish fears
Be this our plan, to lead the van,
With Freedom's Pioneers

Too lon(g) upon our toil were built
The palaces of power
When at our touch those forts of guilt
Would crumble in an hour,
Now each day brings on swiftest wings
To their unwilling ears,
The shouts that greet our marching feet
Tis Freedom's Pioneers!

The rich man's hate, the rich man's pride
Have held us long in awe
Our right to life is still denied,
And wealth still rules the law
But man shall ow no longer now,
But welcome with his cheers
The ringing stroke, to break our yoke
Of freedom's Pioneers

(air--Clares Dragoons)

Come, hearken all, the day draws nigh,
When mustring hosts the cause shall try
Of Labours right to live and die
Enjoying human freedom
Then Labours force shall take the field
The liberating sword to wield,
For Labours own right arm must shield
The cause of Human freedom,

Shout hurra for freedom's host,
For freedom's banner, nobly borne
Shout hurra, though tempest tossed
Freedom's barque shall ride the storm

The rights our heroes' lives have bought
The truths our martyrs, dying, taught,
The hearts of men with passion hot
Prepare for human freedom
Its roots are in no barren soil
But watered by the tears of toil
Are spreading fast no storms can spoil
The plant of human freedom

Our Native Land! alas, the name
Is but a sound to tell our shame,
What land have they whose spirits tame
Brook loss of human freedom?
When lake and river, hill and dale,
Hear children's cry and womens wail
Of suffering rise on every gale,
For lack of human freedom

Our banner waves o'er many bands
Thro mount and ocean-severed lands
With active brain and skillful hands
Fighting for human freedom
For ancient feuds no more divide,
And ancient hates we thrust aside
Our Class, we know, thro battles tide
Must bear the flag of freedom

For this since we the world began
Their troubled course the ages ran
And earth in long travail for man
Bare seed of human freedom
For us and ours that heritage
Was handed down from age to age
That we might write on Hist'ry's page
The Birth of Human Freedom

(air--Loves Young Dream)

O, Freedom's song by workers sung,
Rings loud and clear,
O'er every land, in every tongue,
Afar, anear
Time passeth by,
Old systems die
Oppressions course outrun,
But Earth, rejoiced, salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun
O, rejoicing Earth salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun,

O, all men then their lives may live
From grim want free
And all the joyous that life can give
Their lot shall be
And care shall fly
And sea and sky
Acclaim the work well done
And Earth, rejoiced, salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun,
O, rejoicing Earth salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun,

No longer now revolt shall hide
In holes and caves,
Whilst those who have Oppression's pride
But find their graves
To tyrants ban
Can now make man
The truths of knowledge shun
But Earth rejoiced salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun
O rejoicing Earth salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun

Our fathers saw the master's sword
His plunder glean,
But specious fraud and lying word
His thefts now screen
Yet Fraud shall fail and Truth prevail
And Justice shall be done,
And earth rejoiced salute the light
Of Freedom's Sun
O rejoicing Earth salutes the light
Of Freedom's Sun


Be Moderate, the timerous cry
Who dread the tyrants thunder,
You ask too much and people fly
From you aghast in wonder
Tis passing strange and I declare
Such statements cause me mirth
For our demands most moderate are
We only want THE EARTH

Our masters all- a godly crew
Whose hearts throb for the poor
Their sympathies assure us, too
If our demands were fewer
Most generous souls, but please observe,
What they enjoy from birth
Is all we ever had the nerve
To ask, that is THE EARTH

The Labour Fakir, full of guile,
Such doctrine ever preaches,
And whilst he bleeds the rank and file
Tame moderation teaches
Yet in his despite well see the day
When, with sword in its girth,
Labour shall march in war array,
To seize its own, THE EARTH


Thou, savior yet to be
Saoirse, a ru`in!
Dearer than life to me
Saoirse, a ru`in!
May all I give to thee
Grant that mine eyes may see
The in thy majesty
Saoirse, a ru`in!

Hard was our travail past
Saoirse, a ru`in!
Long held in bondage fast
Saoirse, a ru`in!
Weary the road weve passed
By errors clouds oercast,
Thy light breaks in at last
Saoirse, a ru`in!

Oft hath our masters tongue
Saoirse, a ru`in!
Glibly thy glories sung
Saoirse, a ru`in!
Loudly thy harp theyve strung,
Wildly thy praises flung
Saoirse a ru`in!

Long have we sought thy light,
Saoirse, a ru`in
Through Oppression's darkest night
Saoirse, a ru`in!
And ne'er shall cease the fight
Gainst the tyrant's hateful might,
Till thou shalt bless our sight,
Saoirse, a ru`in!

Forth, then we march to-day.
Freedom our own!
Eager, panting for the Fray,
Freedom our own!
Neath thy suns enlight'ning ray
Naught shall our progress stay
Soon thou shall reign alway
Freedom our own!


Oh! hear ye the Watchword of Labour!
The slogan of they whod be free
That no more to any enslaver,
Must Labour bend suppliant knee,
That we on whose shoulders are borne
The pomp and pride of the great
Whose toil they repay with their scorn,
Must challenge and master our fate

Then send it aloft on the breeze boys!
That watchword the grandest weve known
That Labour must rise from its knees boys!
And claim the broad earth as its own.

Aye! we who oft won by our valour,
Empire for our Rulers and Lords
Yet knelt in abasement and squalor,
To the thing we had mad by our swords
Now valour with worth will be blending
When answering Labour's command
We arise from our knees, and ascending
To manhood for freedom take stand.


Then out from the field and the city
From workshop, from mill and from mine
Despising their wrath and their pity
We workers are moving in line
To answer the watchword and token
That Labour gives forth as its own
Nor pause till our fetters we've broken
And conquered the spoiler and drone.


(air--the Holy City)

Here, at her altar kneeling
Sweet Freedom we adore,
And swear to hold her honour
As sacred as of yore
Did all her holy martyrs,
When, recking life as naught,
They went to death to guard the faith
Her love to man had brought

O Freedom! O Freedom!
Thy worshipers are we
Here, kneeling our allegiance
We render now to Thee

And as our fathers prayed to see
The glories of her face
We, at her altar kneeling
Beseech her longed-for grace
She needs no gory sacrifice
Laid on her altar stones
Our pilgrimage of poverty
For all our faults atones

She comes not clothed in majesty
No terrors in her tone
Her priesthood is of Labour
Her service is our own
To toil, and pain, and penury
Wherever manhood dwells
She speaks and lo responsive
The heart of Labour swells
She builds her altar in our hearts
Her ritual on our lives
And they who yield her service
Lack not the grace that shrives


Come, shake out your banners, and forth to the fight
Joy, joy to our heart that this day we have seen
When the war-flags of Labour, saluting the light
Of Freedom for mankind, around us doth stream
Oh the tyrants may quake lest the blood they have poured
O'er the fields of the earth their crowns to be-gem
May rise to our thoughts as we unsheathe the sword,
And harden our hearts gainst the spoilers of men.

Ay, the sword glitters grandly, but not as of yore
When brother smote brother in murderous feud
Or the nod of a tyrant rushed nations to war
And the hopes of our race were o'erwhelmed in blood
Nay the fight that we fight is a fight for our own
And Freedom for Labour our wars tocsin shall be
Through the broad earth resounding, till Capitals throne
Lies shattered for aye and the toiler is free.

(written by James Connolly abroad ship during his return to Ireland in 1909- Air-Rolling Home to Bonnie Scotland)

With the engines neath us throbbing
And the wind upon our stern,
Little reck we of the distance
That divides us now from Erin
For we hear her voices calling
Sweeping past us on the West
Calling home to her the children
She once nourished on her breast

She is calling, calling ,calling
In the wind and o'er the tide
We, her children hear her voices
Call us ever to her side
O! Ye waters bear us onward
And ye winds your task fulfill
Till our Irish eyes we feast on
Irish vale and Irish hill
Till we tread our Irish Cities
See their glory and their shame,
And our eyes like skies oer Erin,
Through their smiles shed tears of pain.

Glorious is the land we're leaving
And its pride shall grow through years
And the land that calls us homewards
Can but share with us her tears
Yet our heart her call obeying
Heedless of the wealth men crave
Turneth home to share her sorrow
Where she weeps beside the wave

(Written by James Connolly in the U.S., Christmas, 1903)

Tis Christmas Day in Ireland
And I'm sitting here alone
Three thousand miles of ocean intervene
And the faces of my loved ones
In my little Irish home
Come glancing in and out my thoughts between
O, to catch the loving kisses
From my little children flung
To feel the warm embrace when wife
And husband meet
To hear the boisterous greeting in
The kindly Dublin tongue
That makes brightness of the dullness
Of our murky Dublin streets

Tis Christmas day in Ireland
And I my lot bewailing
Am fretting in this Western land so cold
Where the throbbings of the human heart
Are weak and unavailing
And human souls are reckoned less than gold
O the headache and the heartache
And the ashes at the feast
Attend us every hour of our sojourn
In this land
Till the heart-sick Irish exile turns
His face towards the East
To that land where love and poverty
Can wander hand in hand

Tis Christmas day in Ireland
And ringing over yonder
Are Dublin streets with Irish love of life
And I'm here in exile moping
In spirit yearning wander
To that Irish land to meet my Irish wife
O the lovings and the strivings and the
Griefs we share in common
and the babes that came to bless us
As sweet buds upon a tree
O curses on the cruel fate that sent
A father roaming
And blessings still this Christmastide
My Irish home on thee.

(This particular collection of songs came from a program of a concert given by James Connolly's comrades of the Socialist Party of Ireland and the Irish Citizen Army to commemorate the anniversary of his birth. The Concert was to be held in the Mansion House Dublin on the 5th of June 1919 with members of the Citizen Army described in the Program as the Red guard of the workers acting as stewards. However, British Imperialism, which had executed Connolly only three years previously, was intent on coercing those who would seek a vent in song for the aspirations the fears and hopes the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle The concert was proclaimed under the Defense of the Realm Act. When the people arrived for the concert they found the Mansion house guarded by armed police and many more police positioned in the nearby streets. Immediately fully armed groups of the citizen army were mobilized. A citizen Army officer who was trying to resist arrest fired on the police his men followed his example and Dublin had its first shooting since Dan Breen and his comrades raised the standard at Soloheadbeg. Several policemen and one civilian were wounded.
Later that night, the proclaimed concert was held in the Trades Hall. While the police and the Red Guard of the workers faced one another in the street outside, the joyous defiant singing of revolutionary songs could be heard coming from the building.

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