Ring the Bell, Watchman

American Folk Song

Henry Clay Work (1865)

High in the belfry the old sexton stands,
Grasping the rope with his thin bony hands
Fix’d is his gaze as by some magic spell
Till he hears the distant murmur,
Ring, ring the bell.

“Ring the bell, watchman! ring! ring! ring!
“Yes, yes! the good news is now on the wing.
“Yes, yes! they come and with tiding to tell.
“Glorious and blessed tidings. Ring, ring the bell!”

Baring his long silver locks to the breeze,
First for a moment he drops on his knees
Then with a vigor that few could excel
Answers he the welcome bidding,
Ring, ring the bell. (Chorus)

Hear! from the hilltop, the first signal gun
Thunders the word that some great deed is done
Hear! thro’ the valley the long echoes swell,
Ever and anon repeating
Ring, ring the bell. (Chorus)

Bonfires are blazing and rockets ascend
No meagre triumph such tokens portend
Shout! shout! my brothers for “all, all is well!”
‘Tis the universal chorus
Ring, ring the bell. (Chorus)

Song Notes

This song was written by American Civil War-era author, Henry Clay Work.  It was parodied by the song, Strike the Bell, and the parody is arguably more well-known and more performed today.  Work also wrote The Ship that Never Returned, which was also parodied in modern times by The MTA Song, written by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes and was made famous by The Kingston Trio.