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"The First Gun is Fired: May God Protect the Right" was the first song written specifically for the American Civil War. It was first published and distributed three days after the Battle of Fort Sumter. George F. Root, who wrote it the day before it first appeared in print, is said to have produced the most songs of anyone about the war, over thirty in total.[1][2]

The First Gun is Fired was first performed in public at a patriotic rally in Metropolitan Hall in Chicago, Illinois, by two well-known singers of the day, the Lombard Brothers. Root distributed copies of the sheet music to the audience. The song caught on with the public and became one of the most popular tunes of the Civil War.[3]

Lyrics[]

1. The first gun is fired!

may God protect the right!

Let the free-born sons of the North arise

in power's avenging might

Shall the glorious Union our fathers made

by ruthless hands be sundered?

And we of freedom's sacred right

by trait'rous foes be plundered.[4]

CHORUS Arise; Arise; Arise!

And gird ye for the fight,

And let our watchword ever be,

May God protect the right.

2. The first gun is fired,

By echoes thrill the land,

And the bounding hearts of the patriot throng,

Now firmly take their stand;

We will bow no more to the tyrant few

Who scorn our long forebearing,

But with Columbia's stars and stripes,

We'll quench their trait'rous daring

CHORUS Arise; Arise; Arise!

And gird ye for the fight,

And let our watchword ever be,

May God protect the right.

3. The first gun is fired,

Oh! heed the signal well,

And the thunder tone as it rolls along

Shall sound opression's knell,

For the arm of freedom is mighty still,

But strength shall fail us never,

The strength we'll give to our righteous cause

And our glorious land forever

CHORUS Arise; Arise; Arise!

And gird ye for the fight,

And let our watchword ever be,

May God protect the right.[5]

References[]

  1. Silber, Irwin, Songs of the Civil War (Courier Dover Publications, 1995) p. 4.
  2. Kelley, Bruce, Bugle Resounding: An Overview of Music of the Civil War Era. (University of Missouri Press, 2004). p. 30.
  3. The Lester S. Levy Collection of American Sheet Music, Sheridan Libraries, The Johns Hopkins University Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  4. DR. GEORGE F. ROOT DEAD New York Times August 8, 1895
  5. Public Domain Music Retrieved 2008-10-14.

External links[]

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