To Anacreon in Heav'n

Melody -

Ralph Tomlinson

1. To Anacreon in Heav'n,
Where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony
Sent a petition
That he their Inspirer
And Patron would be;
When this answer arrived
From the Jolly Old Grecian:
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
No longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name
And inspire you to boot,

|: And besides I'll instruct you,
Like me, to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus's Vine." :|

2. The news through Olympus
Immediately flew;
When Old Thunder pretended
To give himself airs.
"If these Mortals are suffered
Their scheme to pursue,
The devil a Goddess,
Will stay above stairs.
Hark, already they cry,
In transports of joy,
'Away to the Sons
Of Anacreon we'll fly,

|: And there with good fellows,
We'll learn to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus' Vine. :|

3. "The Yellow-Haired God
And his nine fusty Maids
From Helicon's banks
Will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast
But of tenantless shades,
And the bi-forked hill
A mere desert will be.
My Thunder no fear on't,
Shall soon do its errand,
And dam'me I'll swing
The Ringleaders I warrant.

|: I'll trim the young dogs,
For thus daring to twine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus's Vine." :|

  4. Apollo rose up,
And said, "Pry'thee ne'er quarrel,
Good King of the Gods,
With My Vot'ries below:
Your Thunder is useless"--
Then showing his laurel,
Cry'd "Sic evitabile
Fulmen, you know!
Then over each head,
My laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your Crackers
No mischief shall dread,

|: While, snug in their clubroom,
They jovially twine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus's Vine." :|

5. Next Momus got up
With his risible Phiz
And swore with Apollo
He'd cheerfully join --
"The full tide of Harmony
Still shall be his,
But the Song, and the Catch,
And the Laugh shall be mine.
Then, Jove, be not jealous
Of these honest fellows."
Cry'd Jove, "We relent,
Since the truth you now tell us:

|: And swear by Old Styx,
That they long shall intwine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus's Vine." :|

6. Ye Sons of Anacreon,
Then join hand in hand;
Preserve Unanimity,
Friendship, and Love!
'Tis yours to support
What's so happily plann'd;
You've the sanction of Gods,
And the Fiat of Jove.
While thus we agree,
Our toast let it be:
"May our Club flourish Happy,
United, and Free!

|: And long may the Sons
Of Anacreon intwine
The Myrtle of Venus
With Bacchus's Vine." :|

Parisian Henri Estienne's greatest claim to fame was that he discovered, translated and, in 1554, printed the work of a sixth-century B.C. Greek poet called Anacreon, who mainly wrote erotic poetry and drinking songs.

Estienne's translation caught on all over Europe, and by the 18th century Anacreon's poetry was so enjoyed in London by well-heeled fun-lovers that in 1776 they formed the Anacreon Society. Aim: meet once every two weeks, get drunk, sing songs. (Forerunner of modern glee clubs.) One of the society's members was a now long-forgotten singer and composer who went by the memorable name of John Smith.

When it was decided that the group should have a signature tune, Smith whistled one up, entitled "To Anacreon in Heaven." The song was soon on the lips of everybody, from tipsy clubmen who had survived a night out in London to nervous young American lawyers who had hazarded a night out in Baltimore.

Well, September 13, 1814, had been quite a night, during which the British fired 1,800 shells at Fort McHenry. One of the young American lawyers in question, watching from an offshore boat, was so taken with events that he dashed off a commemorative song on the back of an envelope and set it to John Smith's tune dedicated to Anacreon. He called the poem " In Defense of Fort McHenry". James Burke (THE Professor)

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