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When Johnny Comes Marching Home

About When Johnny Comes Marching Home

This musical hope for peace originated during the Civil War and has demonstrated lasting appeal, growing in popularity over the years. Soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict sang it, identifying with the feeling of joy that was anticipated with the end of the fighting and the return of loved ones to their homes. 

The first printed sheet music for the song credits the words and music to Louis Lambert, which was determined later to be a pen name for Patrick S. Gilmore. Gilmore was born in Ireland and came to America in the 1840s along with many others, fleeing the famine of those years. He was a gifted musician, becoming Bandmaster for the United States Army during the Civil War and, in post-war years, the organizer of Monster Peace-Jublilees featuring orchestras of a thousand musicians and choruses of 10,000 voices. 

Gilmore claimed to have learned the tune for When Johnny Comes Marching Home from an unidentified African American singer and that it was a traditional African American melody. The Irish-sounding melody and Gilmore's background lead many to discredit this claim, but no definitive evidence of the tune's origin has been discovered. It is possible that he adapted the melody from a traditional Irish folk song.

Lyrics to When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Johnny comes marching home again 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
The men will cheer, the boys will shout 
The ladies, they will all turn out 
And we’ll all feel gay 
When Johnny comes marching home 

The old church bell will peal with joy 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
To welcome home our darling boy 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
The village lads and lassies say 
With roses they will strew the way 
And we’ll all feel gay 
When Johnny comes marching home 

Get ready for the jubilee 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
We’ll give the hero three times three 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
The laurel wreath is ready now 
To place upon his loyal brow 
And we’ll all feel gay 
When Johnny comes marching home 

Let love and friendship on that day 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
Their choicest treasures then display 
Hurrah, hurrah! 
And let each one perform some part 
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart 
And we’ll all feel gay 
When Johnny comes marching home

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