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Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma


GUEST,Wally Macnow 18 Apr 19 - 03:49 PM
RTim 18 Apr 19 - 04:26 PM
Gordon Jackson 19 Apr 19 - 04:34 AM
Jim Dixon 26 Apr 19 - 09:42 AM
Joe Offer 13 Sep 21 - 05:31 PM
Lighter 13 Sep 21 - 07:20 PM
GerryM 14 Sep 21 - 02:49 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 14 Sep 21 - 05:43 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: GUEST,Wally Macnow
Date: 18 Apr 19 - 03:49 PM

I was missing a line from a version of The Heights of Alma that I learned from Barry O'Neill around 1976 so I came to Mudcat to find it. When I looked up the song, I found tunes that were unlike the one I know. Also, the lyric was not quite the same. I found the line that I was looking for but thought I'd post the lyric that I learned from Barry. I'm not familiar enough with software to post the tune, however.


It was on September the eighteenth day
Beneath the salt sea’s dashing spray,
We landed safe in the Crimay
Bound for the heights of Alma.

That night we slept on the cold, cold ground,
No food or lodging could be found,
By rain, we were allnearly drowned
That very night at Alma.

Next morn the burning sun did rise
Above those cloudless eastern skies,
Our gallant chief, Lord Raglan, cries,
"Prepare my boys for Alma."

When Alma’s heights they came in view,
The stoutest heart it would subdue
To see that mighty Russian crew
Stand on the heights of Alma.

The bullets fell as thick as rain
When we their heights did try to gain,
And many a hero there was slain
That very day at Alma.

Then the 33rd of our fusiliers
They gained the heights and gave three cheers,
Their cheering voice fret our ears
Us highland lads at Alma

Us highland lads as you might suppose,
We were not less in our kilt and hose.
We boldly fought those Russian foes,
And victory gained at Alma,

And when their heights we did command,
We bravely fought them hand to hand
And there we made those Russians stand,
And victory gained at Alma

To Sevastopol those Russians fled,
Leaving their wounded and their dead,
The rivers, they ran crimson red
With blood that flowed at Alma

Six hundred Britons I’ve heard say,
Were slain upon the field that day
And eighteen hundred Russians lay
All in their gore at Alma

It’s many the mothers tears will roll,
And none the sister can console,
The widows mourn without control,
For their husbands dead at Alma

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: RTim
Date: 18 Apr 19 - 04:26 PM

A song brilliantly recorded by Ian Robb on Dan MIlner produced recording - Irish Songs from Old New England...see -

Tim Radford

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 19 Apr 19 - 04:34 AM

Here's the version recorded by Nic Jones. Note there's an extra beat in the chorus (there's also one in the last verse). I also have the tune, again different to what's in the Digitrad, and mostly in 4/4 but I don't know how to post it.

September last on the eighteenth day
We landed safe at the big Crimea
In spite of all the splashing spray
To cheer our hearts for Alma
That night we lay on the cold cold ground
No tent nor shelter to be found
And with the rain was almost drowned
Upon the Heights of Alma

Then Britain's sons may long remember
The glorious twentieth of September
We caused the Russians to surrender
On the Heights of Alma

Next morning a scorching sun did rise
Beneath the eastern cloudy skies
Our noble chief Lord Raglan cries
Prepare to march for Alma
Oh when the heights we hove in view
The stoutest heart it could subdue
To see the Russian warlike crew
Upon the Heights of Alma

Their city was well fortified
With batteries on every side
Our noble chief Lord Raglan cried
We'll get hot work at Alma
Their shot it flew like winter rain
When we their batteries strove to gain
Fifteen hundred Frenchmen slain
In the bloody gore at Alma

Our Scottish lads with sword in hose
Were not the last as you may suppose
But daring faced their daring foes
And gained the Heights of Alma
To Sebastopol the Russians fled
They left the wounded and the dead
The rivers there that they run red
From the blood was spilled on Alma

There was fifteen hundred Frenchmen I heard say
Had fell upon that fatal day
And eighteen hundred Russians lay
In the bloody gore at Alma
Now France and England hand in hand
What ne'er a foe could them withstand
So let it run throughout the land
The victory won at Alma

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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Apr 19 - 09:42 AM

From Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland edited, with notes, by Robert Ford (Paisley and London: Alexander Gardner, 1901), page 73 (where musical notation for a melody line is also given):


[1] Ye loyal Britons, pray, give ear,
Unto the news I bring you here;
While joy each Briton's heart doth cheer,
For the vict'ry gained at Alma.
'Twas on September the fourteenth day,
In spite of the salt sea's dashing spray,
We landed safe on the Crimea,
All on the route for Alma.

[2] That night we lay on the cold ground,
No tent nor shelter could be found;
With rain we all were nearly drowned,
To cheer us for the Alma.
Next morn a burning sun did rise,
Beneath the cloudless Eastern skies;
Our gallant chief, Lord Raglan, cries—
"Prepare to march for Alma."

[3] And when the Alma came in view,
It did the stoutest heart subdue,
To see the mighty Russian crew,
Upon the heights of Alma.
They were so strongly fortified,
With batteries on the mountain-side,
Our general viewed the forts, and cried—
"There'll be hot work at Alma."

[4] The balls did fall as thick as rain,
When we the batteries tried to gain,
And many a hero there was slain
Upon the heights of Alma.
The Thirty-third and the Fusiliers,
They climbed the hills and gave three cheers;
While "Faugh a ballagh" rent our ears,
From the Irish boys at Alma.

[5] Our Highland lads, with kilt and hose,
They were not last, you may suppose;
But boldly faced their Russian foes,
To gain the heights of Alma.
And when the heights we did command,
We fought the Russians hand to hand;
But the Russian force could not withstand
The British charge at Alma.

[6] Their guns and knapsacks they threw down,
And ran like hares before the hound,
While "Vive L'Empereur" did resound,
From the sons of France at Alma.
But though the battle we have got,
And gallantly our heroes fought,
Yet dearly was the victory bought,
For thousands died at Alma.

[7] Between the wounded and the slain,
The Russians lost eight thousand men;
And had three thousand prisoners ta'en
Upon the heights of Alma.
Two thousand British, I heard say,
Did fall upon that fatal day;
And fourteen hundred Frenchmen lay
In bloody graves at Alma.

[8] To Sebastopol the Russians fled,
They left their wounded and their dead;
The river that day ran crimson red,
With the blood that was spilled at Alma.
From orphans' eyes the tear-drops roll,
And none the widows can console.
While parents mourn, beyond control,
The sons they lost at Alma.

[9] And many a pretty maid does mourn,
Her lover who will ne'er return;
By cruel war he's from her torn,
And his body lies at Alma.
With France and England, hand in hand,
What force on earth can them withstand;
So sound the news throughout the land—
The victory of the Alma.

The above was a common street song, and always a "catch," not in Scotland alone, but all over Britain, for many years succeeding the great Crimean War. Many thousands of it must have been sold in broad sheet form.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Sep 21 - 05:31 PM

Joe - do crosslinks

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: Lighter
Date: 13 Sep 21 - 07:20 PM

This song was the direct inspiration for the American "The Battle of Shiloh."

(Not the better known "The Battle of Shiloh's Hill.")

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: GerryM
Date: 14 Sep 21 - 02:49 AM

I sang this at the Mudcat Singaround today. I cobbled my version together from the one in the Digital Tradition (where it's under "Battle of Alma") and several elsewhere on the web and the recording by Liz & John Munro (but I didn't see the ones in this thread until just now). Each version I found had one or more bits that just seemed wrong.

For example, in the version upthread that Gordon Jackson attributes to Nic Jones, there's the line, "Oh when the heights we hove in view," which doesn't really make sense. So I sang it as "But when the heights they hove in view."

Also, in the last stanza of that version, it has, "Now France and England hand in hand/What ne'er a foe could them withstand." Now it's clear from both the song and the actual history of the battle that the Scots had a lot to do with the victory at Alma, and I don't think the Scots would take well to being subsumed into England. And the second line makes no sense to me – "What never a foe could them withstand"? So, I sang it as "Oh, France and Britain, hand in hand/Whate'er a foe could them withstand?" I'm not sure that "Whatever a foe could them withstand?" is such good English, but to me it seems better than the way I found it.

And I didn't care much for "The rivers there that they run red," so I sang "And the rivers there, they ran with red."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heights of Alma
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 14 Sep 21 - 05:43 AM

From the repertoire of The Copper Family comes this version. Interesting that it contains reference to the use of the Needle Bob used to explain, the riflemen were not dashing about exhibiting their skills in petit point, but something rather more deadly.


A jolly young soldier a letter did write
To his own dearest jewel, his joy and hearts delight,
To tell her of the dangers that he had entered in
At the Battle of Alma where thousands were slain.

Our soldiers and sailors were all prepared for war
To fight those lofty Russians where thousands must fall,
They were commanded by Lord Raglan that man of courage bold,
They fought them sword in hand, my boys, and forced them to yield.

It was the bravest battle that did this world surprise
To see our brave soldiers to stare them in the face,
They marched up to their guns, my boys, and soon they let them know,
They showed to them their needle work and forced them to yield.

The drums they did beat and the trumpets did sound
While thousands of soldiers lay dead on the ground.
There were rifle balls and musket came a-screeching by their ears
And the bomb shells a-bursting and loud cannon roar.

And now let us hope that these wars are all o’er,
While thousands of soldiers lie bleeding in gore.
May the Lord have mercy on them and save their poor souls
May the sweet heavens protect them and God be their guide

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