Can you imagine? There used to be Orange Lodges and 12th of July parades in Canada. In a town up the Ottawa Valley, the United and Anglican Churches stood near one another on a hill overlooking the town bridge, and an old cannon stood between them, pointing at the bridge. The Masonic Lodge also stood atop the hill by the churches. One of the locals told me, “The Protestants were on this side of the river, and the Catholics the other. We kept the cannon in case they ever tried to cross the bridge in force.” I am not making this up. He was only partly joking.
I first became a fan of folk music through the early albums of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. I recommend them for their fine collections of rousing Irish songs.
Ireland, where even the songs of religious bigotry are witty and fun.
The Old Orange Flute
In the county Tyrone, in the town of Dungannon
Where many a ruction myself had a hand in
Bob Williamson he lived, a weaver by trade
And all of us thought him the stout orange blade.
On the twelfth of July as it yearly did come
Bob played on the flute to the sound of the drum
You can talk of your lyre, your piano or lute
But there’s none could compare to the Old Orange Flute.
But Bob that deceiver he took us all in
For he married a Papist named Bridget McGinn
Turned Papist himself and forsook the Old Cause
That gave us our freedom, religion and laws.
And the boys in the place made some comment upon it
And Bob had to fly to the province of Connaught;
he left with his wife and his fixins, to boot,
And along with the latter, the Old Orange Flute.
At Mass the next Sunday, to atone for past deeds, S
aid Paters and Aves and counted his beads
Till after some time at the Priest’s own desire
Bob went with his flute for to play in the choir.
Bob went with his flute for to play in the mass
But the instrument shivered and cried.”O Alas!”
And try though he would, though he made a great noise,
The flute would play only “The Protestant Boys”.
Well up Bob he jumped with a start and a flutter.
He threw the old flute in the blessed holy water;
He thought that this charm would bring some other sound,
When he tried it again, it played “Croppies Lie Down!”
Now for all he would finger and whistle and blow
For to play Papish music, he found it “No Go”
“Kick the Pope” to “Boyne Water” it clearly would sound
But one Papish squeek and it could’nt be found.
At a council of priests that was held the next day
They decided to banish the Old Flute away;
They couldn’t knock heresy out of its head
So they bought Bob a new one to play it instead.
Now the poor was doomed, and its fate was pathetic
‘Twas fastened and burnt at the stake as heretic.
As the flames soared around , you could hear a strange noise
‘Twas the Old Flute still a-whistlin’ “The Protestant Boys”.