When Johnny Comes Marching Home

by Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band

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about

This musical hope for peace originated during the Civil War and has demonstrated lasting appeal, growing in popularity over the years. Soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict sang it, identifying with the feeling of joy that was anticipated with the end of the fighting and the return of loved ones to their homes.

The first printed sheet music for the song credits the words and music to Louis Lambert, which was determined later to be a pen name for Patrick S. Gilmore. Gilmore was born in Ireland and came to America in the 1840s along with many others, fleeing the famine of those years. He was a gifted musician, becoming Bandmaster for the United States Army during the Civil War and, in post-war years, the organizer of Monster Peace-Jublilees featuring orchestras of a thousand musicians and choruses of 10,000 voices.

Gilmore claimed to have learned the tune for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" from an unidentified African American singer and that it was a traditional African American melody. The Irish-sounding melody and Gilmore's background lead many to discredit this claim, but no definitive evidence of the tune's origin has been discovered. It is possible that he adapted the melody from a traditional Irish folk song.

lyrics

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah, hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah, hurrah!
The men will cheer, the boys will shout
The ladies, they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah, hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy
Hurrah, hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home

Get ready for the jubilee
Hurrah, hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three
Hurrah, hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home

Let love and friendship on that day
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest treasures then display
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home

credits

released March 21, 2016

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about

Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band Florida

With vocals, guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass fiddle, Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band bring to life music that is woven into the fabric of the United States: traditional folk songs, fiddle tunes, old-time country, bluegrass, Appalachian music, ragtime, blues, spirituals, railroad and cowboy songs, work songs, sea shanties, reels, breakdowns, ballads, and more. ... more

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