A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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42                A CENTURY OF BALLADS
sister afterwards became the famous actress Mrs. Cibber, already referred to, married Cecilia Young, daughter of Dr. Young, himself a com­poser of several operas and oratorios, and number­less glees, canons, and catches. Arne's fame to-day rests almost entirely on his settings of Shakespeare songs, and his still more famous "Rule Britannia."
This song, which, as a writer has said, "will continue to be heard as long as love of country animates the breasts of Englishmen," was com­posed as a finale to the masque Alfred, written by Thomson and Mallet, by command of Frederick, Prince of Wales, for an entertain­ment at his house, Cleifden, Bucks, in August, 1740.
Wagner once declared that in the first eight notes of "Rule Britannia" the English char­acter was portrayed—"its vigour, resolution, and eternal greatness." A contemporary author, writing in 1740, gives the names of the "three most popular songs that are now being sung in public" as "Rule Britannia," "God Save the King," and "The Roast Beef of Old England."
"Rule Britannia" has long been considered as the one really national English song, and has served equally as a call to arms and a glorification of victory. In 1798 excitement was at fever height
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