Australian Folk Songs

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Ring The Bell Chumies

Snug on the sofa and old topper sat,
Looking as if he would ne'er whip the cat ;
He felt in his pockets, and said with a yell,
"I've a note in the locker yet, so ring, ring the bell"

Ring the bell chumies, ring, ring, ring.
And ordered the landlord what poisons to bring :
He's not a bad fellow, and ought to do well,
So ring the bell, and liquor up, come ring, ring the bell.

Rubbing his tumblers outside in the bar,
The landlord is thinking "What dashed fools they are
To bring me the money they have earned so well;
That chap is near lamb'd down who's shouting 'Ring the bell.'

Chorus,--Ring the bell, chumies, &c.

They sing, and the singers applause receives,
Tho' when morning comes they'd not listen to Sims Reeves ;
The landlord's delighted--each song pays him well,
For every song he hears, "Come ring, ring, the bell."

Chorus,--Ring the bell, chumies, &c.

The landlord is smiling, he thinks of the morn,
And how he can then look on them all with scorn ;
When they crave for liquor their anguish to peull (??),
And none of them will dare to cry out "Ring, ring, the bell."

Oh, how can one man on his fellow-man prey,
And see scores go ragged that may dress gay ?
And how can these men to him their manhood sell,
To be able for an hour or two to ring, ring the bell?

And to sing--

Ring the bell, chumies, ring ring, ring,
And order the landlord what poisons to bring ;
He's not a bad fellow, and ought to do well.
Come ring the bell, and liquor up, come ring, ring ring the bell.



From the Newcastle NSW newspaper the Miners' Advocate and Northumberland Recorder Saturday 26 September 1874 p. 4.

A surprising number of 19th Century Australian songs and poems parodied the popular American Civil War song "Ring the Bell Watchman",
the sheet music of which was sold in Australia as early as 1869. This song predates the most famous example "Click Go The Shears" by 17 years,
and also appears to be concerned with shearers, using the expression 'lambed down' a common complaint of shearers against unscrupulous publicans.

Sims Reeves (21 October 1821 - 25 October 1900), was the foremost English operatic, oratorio and ballad tenor vocalist of the mid-Victorian era.

Dave de Hugard writes:
'What I find interesting is this business of 'ringing the bell'. I've only seen it once in a pub. That was at Franklin where the musical Dawson family come from.
Mick Flanagan took me up to the 'local'. On the corner of the bar was hung a bell, all nice and shiny looking like it was just waiting to be rung.
The publican informed us that the person who rings that bell is letting everyone know that he is shouting for the bar - name your poison'.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory