Vintage Audio - Your King and Country Want You

Paul Rubens Click to download as MP3 Click to download as MP3

A sentimental favourite at the start of war in 1914, Your King and Country Want You was penned by Paul Rubens.

Rubens had established himself in the pre-war years as the author of numerous popular musical shows.  His shows included Mr Popple (of Ippleton) (1905), The Dairymaids (1906), Miss Hook of Holland (1907) and The Sunshine Girl (1912).

A prolific author, lyricist and composer, Rubens' career was cut short by his early death from consumption at the age of 41 in 1917.

Your King and Country Want You was notably used as a means of persuading young men to enlist for military service in 1914.  The veteran theatrical performer Vesta Tilley often performed the song at recruitment rallies; men who declined to enlist at the end of these were invariably handed white feathers by children chosen for the task.

Two versions of the song are included here (for which abridged lyrics are reproduced below), both recorded in 1914.  Edna Thornton and Helen Clark's renditions are available using the player above.

Your King and Country Want You

We've watched you playing cricket and every kind of game,
At football, golf and polo you men have made your name.
But now your country calls you to play your part in war.
And no matter what befalls you
We shall love you all the more.
So come and join the forces
As your fathers did before.

Oh, we don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go.
For your King and your country both need you so.
We shall want you and miss you
But with all our might and main
We shall cheer you, thank you, bless you
When you come home again.

A "conchie" was slang used to refer to a conscientious objector.

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