Thomas D'Urfey

Thomas D'Urfey was born in 1653 in Devon and died on February 26, 1723. He was a British writer and composer of plays and operas. He often worked with Henry Purcell.

In his youth Tom, as he was called, worked as a clerk while he was studying law. In 1676 two of his plays were performed, drawing the attention of king Charles II. The king liked the plays so much that he appointed Tom as court jester. Starting from the year 1681 the work of Purcell can be found in D’Urfey’s own works, the start of a long friendship. After the death of King Charles, D'Urfey also became popular with his successor king James II, something that only a few artists achieved. Tom was very welcome at the royal court and due to his use of satire, quick wit and sense of humour he became famous. As a composer he often took existing folk songs and inserted his own words into them.

One of his songs written in 1682 is called 'King’s Health' (it is also known as 'Joy to Great Caesar'). It was written as praise to the king. Interesting to us is not the song in itself but the fact that it contains the Divine Name and is considered to be a song of great influence. For example it was resoundingly sung in a march after an election victory in 1685 - proof that in those days they didn't hesitate to use the Divine Name.


Music piece: King's Health - Joy to Great Caesar


Joy to great Cesar,
Long Life, Love, and Pleasure;
'Tis a Health that Divine is,
Fill the Bowle high as mine is;
Let none fear a fever,
But take it off thus Boys.
Let the King live for ever,
'Tis no matter for us Boys,

Try all the Loyal,
Defy all.
Give denial;
Sure none thinks the Glass too big here,
Nor any prig here,
Or sneaking Whig here,
Of Cripple Tony's Crew,
That now looks bleu,
His heart aches too,
The tap won't do,
His zeal so true,
And Projects new,
Ill fate does now pursue.

Let Tories guard the King,
Let Whigs in Halters swing;
Let Pilk, and Shute be sham'd,
Let Oates be damn'd;
Let cheating Player be nick'd,
The turncoat scribe be kick'd.
Let rebel city dons
Ne'er beget their sons:
Let ev'ry Whiggish Peer,
That rapes a Lady fair
And leaves his only dear
The Sheets to gnaw and tear,
Be punish'd out of hand,
And forced to pawn his land
T'attone the grand Affair

Great Charles, like Jehovah,
Spares those would un-king him;
And warms with his graces,
The vipers that sting him:
Till crown'd with just anger,
The rebels he seizes;
Thus Heaven can thunder
When ever it pleases

Then to the Duke fill, fill up the Glass,
The Son of our Martyr, beloved of the King.
Envy'd and loved,
Yet bless'd from above,
Secured by an Angel safe under his wing

Faction and Folly,
And State Melancholy,
With Tony in Whigland forever shall dwell.
Let wit, wine and beauty, then teach us our Duty,
For none e're can love, or be wise and rebel


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