The Diggers’ Song

This is a wonderful version of the 17th Century ballad ‘The Diggers’ Song’, recorded in 1988 by Chumbawamba on their album, ‘English Rebel Songs 1381-1914‘, and re-recorded by them in 2003 for their expanded CD ‘English Rebel Songs 1381-1984‘. It is often confused with a song called ‘The World Turned Upside Down’, composed by Leon Rosselson and recorded in 1986 by Billy Bragg, but they are in fact quite separate songs.

Here are the lyrics to the original song that Chumbawamba were working from:

The Diggers Song
[Probably by Gerard Winstanley, 1640’s]

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The wast land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging does maintain, and persons all defame
Stand up now, stand up now.

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

Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now, stand up now,
Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now,
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaole a gin, to sterve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentrye are all round, stand up now, stand up now
The gentrye are all round, stand up now
The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground.
Stand up now, stand up now.

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

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.

The tithe they yet will have, stand up now, stand up now,
The tithes they yet will have, stand up now,
The tithes they yet will have, and their lawyers their fees crave,
And this they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.
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 they are both even flatt 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 men in awe,
But they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,
The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now,
The Cavaleers are foes, themselves they do disclose
By verses not in prose to please the singing boyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now,
To conquer them by love, come in now,
To conquer them by love, as itt does you behove,
For hee is King above, noe power is like to love,
Glory heere, Diggers all.

(Source: ‘A Ballad History of England’, by Roy Palmer)

(More about Gerard Winstanley and the Diggers at Wikipedia here)

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Published by

Tim Chesterton

Family man; pastor of St. Margaret's Anglican Church on Ellerslie Road, Edmonton; storyteller; traditional folk musician and occasional songwriter. Email me at timchesterton at outlook dot com.

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