Tune of the Day: Will You Come to the Bower
This song was composed by the famous Irish poet, singer and songwriter Thomas Moore, based on an earlier song and tune by the same title.
Will you come to the bower I have shaded for you?
Our bed shall be roses all spangled with dew.
Will you, will you, will you, will you
Come to the bower?
According to tradition, this tune was played by a fifer and drummer from the rag-tag army of Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. However, according to Davis family lore, there were no fifers or drummers in Houston's forces at the time, only two fiddlers. Houston's plan was to draw near the Mexican forces under Santa Anna by parading his men, as if on drill, before sounding a final charge. He hoped such a non-aggressive appearing maneuver would allay the Mexican alertness and allow him an element of surprise. To that end, he had the fiddlers play something the Texans would know, but not particularly martial in nature. Not knowing any marches, the fiddlers over and over played “Will You Come to the Bower?”, a love song popular on the frontier, and it was to the strains of the song on stringed instruments that the Texans marched in their crude fashion. Houston's trick worked, and he was victorious.
During the second half of the 19th century, the song was adopted by the Fenian movement (a movement dedicated to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic), and a new lyric gained wide currency:
Will you come to the bower o’er the free boundless ocean,
Where the stupendous waves roll in thundering motion;
Where the mermaids are seen and the fierce tempest gathers,
To loved Erin the green, the dear land of our fathers.
Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower?
The present arrangement for two flutes appeared in Blake's Young Flutist's Magazine, published in 1833.