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You Noble Diggers All (The Diggers' Song)

[words Gerrard Winstanley]

Gerrard Winstanley (1609–September 10, 1676) was an English Protestant religious reformer and political activist during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. Winstanley was aligned with the group known as the True Levellers for their beliefs, based upon Christian communism, and as the Diggers for their actions because they took over public lands and dug them over to plant crops. [source: Wikipedia]

Winstanley's rallying song was sung by Leon Rosselson with Roy Bailey and Sue Harris, and accompanied by Martin Carthy on guitar, on Rosselson's 1979 album If I Knew Who the Enemy Was. Twenty years later, it was included in Harry's Gone Fishing.

Chumbawamba sang The Diggers' Song in 1988 on their LP English Rebel Songs 1381-1914 and they recorded it again in 2003 for the re-made CD English Rebel Songs 1381-1984. In 2007, they sang it on their live CD Get On With It—Live.

Lady Maisery sang Diggers' Song in 2016 on their CD Cycle. They commented:

The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals who believed in economic equality and wanted to reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on small egalitarian rural communities. The movement was begun by Gerrard Winstanley as the ‘True Levellers’ in 1649, but became known as the ‘Diggers’ because of their attempts to farm on common land. Despite first being published in 1894 by the Camden Society, we believe these lyrics remain chillingly fitting to the society we find ourselves in today.

Lyrics

Leon Rosselson sings The Diggers' Song

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The waste land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging do disdain and your persons all defame
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,
Your houses they pull down, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down to fright poor men in town,
But the gentry must come down and the poor shall wear the crown.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now, stand up now,
With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now.
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could and rights from you withhold.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Their self-will is their law, stand up now, stand up now,
Their self-will is their law, stand up now.
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaol a gin and to serve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentry are all round, stand up now, stand up now,
The gentry are all round, stand up now.
The gentry are all round, on each side they are found,
Their wisdom's so profound to cheat us of the ground.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,
The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now,
To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,
But the devil in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,
The clergy they come in, stand up now.
The clergy they come in and say it is a sin
That we should now begin our freedom for to win.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now,
'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst Priests, stand up now.
For tyrants are they both even flat against their oath,
To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now.
The club is all their law to keep poor folk in awe,
That they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Glory now, Diggers all.