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Modern History Sourcebook:
Ça Ira

This was the most popular song of the French Revolution. The translation is mine, and rough! This is my suggested *loose* translation. I have not tried to preserve metre or rhyme, but have tried to preserve meaning, [Ça ira, literally means "that will go (well)"!] Suggestions taken.

Note especially the attitude taken to the aristocracy and the clergy.

[Thanks to William w. Kibler" wkibler@mail.utexas.edu for correction of the accents in the original posted version.]

Click here for a Real Audio file of Ça ira

[Note: Although real audio files are capable of being "streamed" over the net, that is not possible  from the server I am using on this page (that may change). But even as downloadables, they are much smaller than AU and WAV files. You will need a Real Audio player installed to play them. It is from from the Real Audio Website. ]

 

Ça Ira!

We Will Win!

Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Le peuple en ce jour sans cesse repète:
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Malgré les mutins tout réussira!

Nos ennemis confus en restent là,
et nous allons chanter Alleluya!
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Quand Boileau jadis du clergé parla
Comme un prophète, il a prédit cela,
En chantant ma chansonnette,
Avec plaisir on dira:
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Malgré les mutins tout réussira.
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Pierrot et Margot chantent à la guinguette,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Réjouissons-nous, le bon temps viendra.
Le peuple français jadis "a quia"
L'aristocratie dit: "Mea culpa."
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

e clergé regrette le bien qu'il a.
Par justice la nation l'aura,
Par le prudent LaFayette
Tout trouble s'apaisera,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Malgré les mutins tout réussira.
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Petits comme grands sont soldats
dans l'âme,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Pendant la guerre aucun ne trahira.
Avec coeur tout bon Français combattra,
S'il voit du louche, hardiment
il parlera.
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Lafayette dit: "Vienne qui voudra."
Le patriotisme leur répondra
Sans craindre ni feu ni flamme,
Les Français toujours vaincront,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Malgré les mutins tout réussira.
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Les aristocrates à la lanterne!
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Les aristocrates, on les pendra!
Le despotisme expirera,
La liberté triomphera,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Nous n'avions plus ni nobles, ni prêtres,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
L'égalité partout régnera.
L'esclave autrichien le suivra,
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Et leur infernale clique
Au diable s'envolera.

"We will win, we will win, we will win",
The people of this day neverendingly sing
"We will win, we will win, we will win,
In spite of the traitors, all will succeed"

Our confused enemies are staying low
But we are going to sing "Alleluia!"
"We will win, we will win, we will win",

When Boileau once spoke about the clergy
"Like a prophet he predicted as much.,
By singing my ditty,
With pleasure I will say:
"We will win, we will win, we will win,

In spite of the traitors, all will succeed"
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

Punch and Judy sing at the show
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

Let us rejoices, for the good times are coming
The French people were once nobodies
But now the aristocrats say "we are guilty"
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

The clergy now regrets all its wealth .
Through justice the nation will have it all,
Through the wise LaFayette
All trouble will be quieted,
"We will win, we will win, we will win,

In spite of the traitors, all will succeed"
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

The weak as well as the strong are soldiers
in their souls
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

During the war, not one will be a traitor.
With their hearts, all good Frenchmen will fight,
And when he sees a slacker,
he will boldly speak up
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

Lafayette says, "Let he who will follow me!"
And patriotism will respond,
Without fear of fire or flame.
The French will always conquer
"We will win, we will win, we will win,

In spite of the traitors, all will succeed"
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

Let's string up the aristocrats on the lampposts!
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

We'll string up the aristocrats!
Despotism will die,
Liberty will triumph
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

And we will no longer have nobles or priests
"We will win, we will win, we will win,""
Equality will reign throughout the land/world
And the Austrian slave will follow it.
"We will win, we will win, we will win,"

And their hellish clique
will be sent to the devil.


Translation: Paul Halsall, 1998, with suggested corrections from William W. Kibler,
Superior Oil - Linward Shivers Professor of French University of Texas at Austin (who also corrected the accents in the French!.)

Additional Words:

Prof. Kibler informed me that, on an audiotape called  Songs of the French Revolution, the text has the following variants:

These lines are slightly different:

        15.  Pierrette et Margot chantent...
        22.  Et c'est justice, la nation l'aura
        24.  C'est fini, tout trouble s'apaisera

After line 27, here the CD version goes:

        Suivant la maxime de l'Evangile,
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
        Du législateur tout s'accomplira.
        Celui qui s'élève on l'abaissera;
        Celui qui s'abaisse on l'élévera.
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira!

        Le vrai catéchisme nous instruira
        Et le faux fanatisme s'éteindra
        Pour être à la loi docile
        Et chaque Français s'exercera
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira.

        Malgré les mutins, tout réussira.
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira.

        Le peuple en ce jour sans cesse répète
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
        Et dans 2000 ans on s'en souviendra,
        Le despotisme expirera;
        La liberté triomphera.
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira.

        Nous n'avons plus ni nobles, ni prêtres,
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira.
        L'égalité partout règnera.
        L'esclave autrichien le suivra,
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira.
        Et leur infernale clique
        Au diable s'envolera.

        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
        Les aristocrates à la lanterne,
        Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
        Les aristocrates, on les pendra.

Bibliography/Discography Suggestions

I cannot locate a CD or tape currently available called Songs of the French Revolution, but there is a CD called Prise De La Bastille/Music of the French Revolution, by the Concerto Köln, Capriccio - #10280, 1992, which may be useful to those searching for more music related to this subject, although it feature classical rather than popular music of the period.]

On the Maillsit Exlibris@library.berkeley.edu on December 17 1996, Louis Godbout [LouisG@pulpaper.mcgill.ca ] posted the following useful information about further research:

You could spend a lifetime - as some have - researching this subject. Both the Bibliotheque Nationale and the British Library have vast collections of documents on the French Revolution that include an astronomical number of songs (as well as satirical pamphlets that include songs). Catalogs of these materials exist, if you are interested.

If, however, you just want to take a cursory look at the most popular
of these songs, you can still purchase the Chansonnier revolutionnaire, an anthology published by Gallimard in 1989 (for the bicentennial).

Any respectable college library should hold a few books on this subject. Here are a few that I have consulted and found useful (Raunie is an especially good anthology, but stops at 1789; you can purchase an academic press reprint if you have a few thousand dollars to spare.):

Histoire de France par les chansons : s'ensuivent 306 belles chansons satiriques et historiques, Paris : M. Fourny, 1982.
DESCRIPTION: 300 p. of music : ill. (some col.), facsims., ports.; 32 cm. + 4 sound discs (33 1/3 rpm, stereo ; 12 in.)

Les Hymnes et chansons de la revolution : apercu general et catalogue avec notices historiques, analytiques et bibliographiques, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1904.

Music and the French Revolution, Cambridge; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Raunie, Emile, 1854-1911.Chansonnier historique du XVIIIe siecle,  Paris, A Quantin, 1879-84.

Rogers, Cornwell Burnham, 1898-, The spirit of revolution in 1789 : a study of public opinion as revealed in political songs and other popular literature at the beginning of the French revolution. Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1949.


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall April1998, updated November 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu