Recordings of Music

No Master, High or Low, sung by Norman Williams

This recording of the Socialist rallying song No Master, High or Low was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. The song was part of the work Chants for Socialists (1885) written by William Morris (1834-1896), an artist and designer active in the pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements. The lyrics of the song express the radical Socialism of Morris, who was a member first of the Social Democratic Foundation and then of the breakaway Socialist League.

England, Arise!, sung by Rufus John

This recording of England, Arise! was sung by John Goss under the pseudonym Rufus John. The song was written by the writer and early gay rights campaigner Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) in 1886. The uplifting tone of this song is in contrast to many of the other songs which were released on record by Lansbury's Labour Weekly in this series.

God Save the People!, sung by Rufus John

This song was written by the Corn Law Rhymer Ebenezer Elliott (1781-1849) in 1847 or 1848. Unlike the editorial staff of Lansbury's Labour Weekly, Elliott was not a Socialist but a Radical Liberal. The song was written as The People's Anthem on the repeal of the Corn Laws, unpopular taxes on the import of foreign grain, which was due to take effect in 1849.

March of the Workers, sung by Rufus John

This song was part of the work Chants for Socialists (1885) written by William Morris (1834-1896), an artist and designer active in the pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements. The music that the lyrics are set to is best known as the American Battle Hymn of the Republic or John Brown's Body, a traditional American tune.

Jerusalem, sung by Rufus John

This recording of the anthem Jerusalem was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. The words were originally part of a poem called Milton by the poet, artist, engraver, and mystic William Blake (1757-1827). They were set to music by Hubert Parry (1848-1918) during the First World War as part of a movement to shore up patriotic sentiment. The song has enjoyed wide popularity ever since, being sung by people and parties from across the political spectrum. Here, it is used by the Labour and Socialist movement as a call to arms for the building of a modern Jerusalem in England.

Song of the Volga Boatman, sung by Rhys Tudor

This recording of the Russian folk song, Song of the Volga Boatmen, was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. Seen as the music of the people, interest in folk music had long been widespread on the left. This recording is an example of the left’s interest both in folk music, and in newly-communist Russia.

United Front Song, performed by the 'Daily Worker' Choir and Accordion

This recording of the Popular Front song was made by the Daily Worker Choir and Accordion and distributed by the Daily Worker. The Daily Worker (founded in 1930) was the house newspaper of the Communist Party. The song was originally written in German by the noted dramatist Bertolt Brecht but was translated for use in other countries. Calls for a United Front or Popular Front between Communists and other leftists were first taken seriously by the Communists in 1934. Until this point, Communist parties around the World had been instructed by the Communist International to regard other leftists as Social Fascists.

The Internationale, sung by Rufus John

The Internationale is foremost among the anthems of the World-wide Socialist, Communist, Social Democratic, and Anarchist movements. The original, French-language, version of the song was written by a Paris communard, Eugène Pottier, in 1871, with the music added by Pierre de Geyter in 1888. The lyrics have since been translated into most major World languages, including the English version used here. The song, with its combative tone and march-style music, is widely-used by leftists, and is traditionally sung with a clenched fist raised in the air.

The Red Flag, sung by Rufus John

Sung to the traditional German tune O Tannenbaum, The Red Flag is the anthem of the British Labour Party, and is used to close the party’s annual conference. The lyrics were written by the Irish Socialist Jim Connell (1852-1929) on a train between Charing Cross and his home in Lewisham. They speak of the universality of the Socialist message and the importance of keeping faith with those who have suffered for the movement.

Red Army March, sung by Rufus John

This song, of unknown authorship, uses the common metaphor of the military campaign to describe the fight of the workers for their advancement. Such metaphors were commonplace in the early years of the Labour Party.

A Rebel Song, sung by Rufus John

This recording of A Rebel Song was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. Originally written by the Irish Socialist and revolutionary James Connolly (1868-1916), it was published in 1903 in The Socialist newspaper, which Connolly had helped found in 1901. Connolly was a significant figure on the radical left and played a leading role in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, for which he was executed. The song's focus is on the need for perseverance in the fight of the working classes for their social and economic freedom.

Hear a Word, a Word in Season, sung by Rufus John

This recording of Hear a Word, a Word in Season was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party.  The song was part of the work Chants for Socialists (1885) written by William Morris (1834-1896), an artist and designer active in the pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements. The song focuses on the virtue of the cause of the working classes, and the possible deaths of some of the workers in pursuing it.

What Ho! My Lads, sung by Rufus John

This song was written by James Leigh Joynes (1853-1893). As with many in the series of Socialist songs, the song declares the time "ripe" for working class action.

Whirlwinds of Danger, sung by Rufus John

This song is based on lyrics written in Polish in 1879 by Waclaw Swiecicki, imprisoned at that time in Warsaw for Socialist activities. The song was later sung by Polish workers during the 1905 Russian Revolution and after this was adopted by the international labour movement.