The Invincible Armado

Melody - Samuel Arnold

John O'Keefe

In May, fifteen hundred and eighty and eight,
Cries Philip, "The English I'll humble,
I've taken it into my majesty's pate,
And the lion, Oh! down he shall tumble.
The Lords of the sea!" - then his sceptre he shook,
"I'll prove it all arrant bravado.
By Neptune I'll sweep 'em all into a nook,
With th'invincible Spanish Armado."

This fleet started out and the winds they did blow;
Their guns made a terrible clatter.
Our noble Queen Bess, 'cos she wanted to know;
Quill'd her ruff and cried, "Pray, what's the matter?"
"They say, my good Queen," replies Howard so stout,
"The Spaniard has drawn his Toledo.
Odds bobbins! he'll thump us, and kick us about,
With th'invincible Spanish Armado."
  The Lord Mayor of London, a very wise man,
What to do in the case, vastly wondered.
Says the Queen, "Send in fifty good ships, if you can,"
Says my Lord May'r, "I'll send you a hundred."
Our fine ships soon struck ev'ry cannon all dumb,
For the Dons ran to Ave and Credo.
Don Medina roars out, "Sure the foul fiend is come
For th'invincible Spanish Armado."

On Effingham's squadron, tho' all in a breast,
Like open-mouth'd curs they came bowling.
His sugar-plums finding they could not digest,
Away they ran yelping, and howling.
Whene'er Briton's foe shall, with envy agog,
In our channel make such a tornado
Huzza! my brave boys! we're still lusty to flog
An Invincible Spanish Armado.

The composer of this spirited song was one of the most distinguished musicians in eighteenth-century England. Dr. Samuel Arnold was organist and composer to the Chapel Royal, conductor of the Academy of Antient Musick and the editor of the first uniform edition of the works of George Frederick Handel. As well as all this, he found time to compose the music for several plays and operas which were given at Covent Garden. 'The 1nvincible Armado' comes from one of his musical plays The Siege of Cuzzola which was first performed in 1785. Although not as successful as some of his pieces, the songs contained in the play were published and performed frequently in the London pleasure gardens. Material success must have appealed to Dr. Arnold, but one gets the impression that his mind was mainly on higher things. He died of a fall from his library steps in October 1802.

John O'Keefe (1747-1833) was an actor and dramatist whose comic plays enjoyed enormous popularity at the Haymarket and Covent Garden. Nowadays he is best remembered for the song 'I am a Friar of Orders Grey' which was featured in his
Merry Sherwood.

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