Roast Beef of Old England, The
DESCRIPTION: "When mighty roast beef was the Englishman's food, It ennobled our hearts and strengthened our blood." The singer complains about the new-fangled French ragouts, and recalls the good old days of Queen Elizabeth, the Armada -- and beef
AUTHOR: Richard Leveridge (c. 1670-1758)
EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (Chappell), but known to be in use at least a century before that
KEYWORDS: food royalty battle
1558-1603 - Reign of Elizabeth (I)
1588 - Voyage of the Spanish Armada
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Chappell/Wooldridge II, pp. 95-96, "The Roast Beef of Old England" (1 text, 1 tune)
Winstock, pp. 269-270, "The roast beef of old England" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Reginald Nettel, _Seven Centuries of Popular Song_, Phoenix House, 1956, pp. 128-129, "(no title)" (1 text)
cf. "O the Roast Beef of Old England: New Version"
NOTES: Not, as far as I can tell, an actual folk song -- but, prior to the adoption of "God Save the King," this was as close as England, and particularly the English navy, came to having an anthem. It probably belongs here on that basis.
There is some confusion about the authorship of the piece. All sources seem to agree that Richard Leveridge wrote at least the music. But some credit him with both words and music, some only the music. Henry Fielding is sometimes credited with the words. The likeliest explanation is that Fielding wrote some of the words for his play "The Grub Street Opera" (1731). Additional words came from others, possibly including Leveridge, in the decades which followed. Leveridge then supplied his new, and very popular, tune.
According to Nettel, p. 133, "Richard Leveridge... was a bass singer who died in 1758 at the age of eighty0eight, and who offered at the age of sixty to sing a song with any man in ENgland for a wager of a hundred guineas." - RBW
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