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Broadside ballad entitled 'Bingen on the Rhine'


This ballad begins: 'A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, / There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears; / But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away, / And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say'. The publisher was the Poet's Box, (probably Glasgow) but the town of publication has been obscured. The broadside was published on Saturday, 27th July 1867, priced at one penny.

'Bingen on the Rhine' is narrated by a German soldier who has been mortally wounded on the battlefield at Algiers. Although the ballad is written almost entirely in standard English, the use of the word 'aye' for 'always' in the second line of the third verse suggests that the song probably originated in Scotland rather than England or Germany. Deathbed ballads, last words and elegies were all very popular among the broadside-buying public.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Date of publication: 1867   shelfmark: L.C.1269(174)a
Broadside ballad entitled 'Bingen on the Rhine'
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