Tune of the Day: Ring the Bell, Watchman
Nowadays this melody is best known as the vehicle for the Australian bush ballad “Click Go the Shears”, which details a day's work for a sheep shearer.
The tune, however, comes from American Civil War song “Ring the Bell, Watchman” by Henry Clay Work, originally published in 1865. The first verse of “Click Go the Shears” follows closely, in parody, Work's lyrics as well. The earliest version of the Australian song can be found in a 1891 edition of the regional Victorian newspaper The Bacchus Marsh Express, under the title “The Bare Belled Ewe”, where the tune was indeed given as “Ring the Bell Watchman”. There was a shearers' strike in 1891, so the publication of the song in that year probably resonated with the Australian community.
“Click Go the Shears” has since been recorded by many artists, notably in 1958 by American folk musician Burl Ives, on his album Australian Folk Songs.
Thanks to Michael for suggesting this tune!