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Ray Charles' "The Continental Soldier Suite" was commissioned by the Texas Boys' Choir in anticipation of the Bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976. The first performances were given during the Choir's National Tour in 1972.

All of the individuals portrayed in the "Suite" were real people who served in some capacity during the American Revolution. Some are well-known in history, others less well-known, but all made a significant contribution to the Continental Army during America's War for Independence.

The text of "The Continental Soldier Suite" is given below along with photographs during one of the Choir's performances. Underlined titles are links to audio files of "The Continental Soldier Suite."

...the Webmaster

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Listening options: To listen to the entire performance uninterrupted click on the "Full Concert" link. To listen to and/or download individual selections, right-click on the "D/L" link and save to the directory of your choice.

Full Concert

"The Continental Soldier"

D/L

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The Continental Soldier, an ordinary guy,
Woke up one day and found he was the original G.I
The Continental Soldier had never fought before,
But there was Yankee Doodle in the middle of a war.
Not enough food to feed him, not enough clothes to wear,
Not enough funds to pay him, not enough men who care.
But enough love and freedom and enough deathless deeds
And enough of the stuff that a nation needs.
The Continental Soldier, each one a volunteer,
Enlisted in the Continental Army for a year.
The Continental Soldier did not put down his gun,
He went and reenlisted 'til he saw the job was done.
Not enough food to feed him, not enough clothes to wear.
Not enough funds to pay him, not enough men who care.
But enough love of freedom and enough deathless deeds
And enough of the stuff that a nation needs.
The Continental Soldier, The Continental Soldier
The Continental Soldier.

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"Deborah Sampson"

D/L

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Let me tell you about the only woman who enlisted as a man:
Her name was Deborah Sampson a unique American.
As a child she had an unhappy life, her father was lost at sea:
And because they were penniless, her mother was forced to break up the family.
But Deborah taught herself reading and writing, the girl was no one's fool
And by the time she was twenty, she was teaching school.
Deborah Sampson, Deborah Sampson, as a man she volunteered.
As a man she perseveered, did ev'rything but grow a beard
To join the Continental Army, the Continental Army.
Well the first time she joined the army discovered her and sent her home to stay.
But Deborah was determined so she tried another way.
In a uniform she'd made secretly she hiked to another town.
Changed her first name to Bob and in this disguise she signed up to fight the crown.
The fact that here face never needed shaving, the men blamed on her youth
Can you imagine those soldiers if they had known the truth!
Deborah Sampson, Deborah Sampson, as a man she volunteered.
As a man she perseveered, did ev'rything but grow a beard
To join the Continental Army, the Continental Army.
For a year and a half no one suspected her tho' she'd been wounded twice.
'Til a doctor tending her fever learned her secret in a trice.
So goodbye to fighting, goodbye to war, goodbye to the army life
Sweet romance came to Deborah the following spring and made her a happy wife.
The Congress decreed a pension for veterans should be awarded her.
And her husband was granted a pension, the first to a widower.
Deborah Sampson, Deborah Sampson, as a man she volunteered.
As a man she perseveered, did ev'rything but grow a beard
To join the Continental Army, the Continental Army.

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"Timothy Murphy"

D/L

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Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
Timothy Murphy was his name.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman
In the Continental Army, he won his fame.
J'ever hear of Timothy Murphy, a real life son-of-a-gun?
He was born in New Jersey in seventeen fifty-one.
He got his reputation from the rifle in his hand:
A double barreled rifle, the first one in the land.
Enlisted in the army when the war was only begun
And stayed there a-fightin' until the war was won.
With Washington at Valley Forge he crossed the Delaware;
When they needed a troubleshooter: Tim Murphy was there.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
Timothy Murphy was his name.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman;
In the Continental Army, he won his fame.
At the Battle of Saratoga, Tim Murphy had his big day;
With a shot from his rifle he drove defeat away.
The British were preparing to attack our men in force
When Murphy got his orders: "Get that man on the horse!"
"That man" was General Fraser, a man who couldn't be beat;
If he led his army we'd surely face defeat.
So up a tree to climb and there he took a careful aim
Then he fired a shot that won us a war, and him fame.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
Timothy Murphy was his name.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
In the Continental Army he won his fame.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
Timothy Murphy was his name.
Bang! Bang! The double barreled rifleman,
In the Continental Army he won his fame.

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"Henry Knox"

D/L

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Three hundred pounds of basso profundo was Henry Knox.
A heavy, hearty, light-hearted party was Henry Knox.
Enthusiasm always in high, the kind of man who'd never say "die,"
Robust, rotund, congenial giant was Henry Knox.
Henry Knox at the age of twelve wa forced to go to work,
To support his mother he got a job in a bookstore as a clerk.
And while he worked he also read alot of books and filled his head
'Til he was an authority on guns and artillery.
At twenty-one he opened up a boostore of his own.
At twenty-five enlisted to oppose the British throne. 
Big promotions cam rapidly in five months he had a colonelcy
And he was in charge of artillery small and large.
Three hundred pounds of basso profundo was Henry Knox.
A heavy, hearty, light-hearted party was Henry Knox.
Enthusiasm always in high, the kind of man who'd never say "die,"
Robust, rotund, congenial giant was Henry Knox.
At the start of the war, the British held Boston town.
And the home team didn't have half enough heavy guns to go around.
So Henry Knox and his men were sent, Ticonderoga is where they went
To see if the fort could spare the captured cannone there.
Three hundred miles of snow and thaw across the cold terrain.
But Henry Knox successfully delivered that "Noble Train."
Then up to Dorchester Heights they hauled the cannon and when they were all installed
And started to explode the British hit the road.
Three hundred pounds of basso profundo was Henry Knox.
A heavy, hearty, light-hearted party was Henry Knox.
Enthusiasm always in high, the kind of man who'd never say "die,"
Robust, rotund, congenial giant was Henry Knox.
Henry Knox was with Washington when the Delaware was crossed.
Said the General to the Colonel, "Shift your weight or all is lost!"
When Henry Knox though there should be a special kind of academy
To teach the gunners art. West Point got its start.
At Washington's farewell when he relinquished his command.
Henry Knox was the first man he approached to clasp his hand.
Full of energy, full of drive, in seventeen hundred and eighty-five
Congress picked him for Secretary of War.
Three hundred pounds of basso profundo was Henry Knox.
A heavy, hearty, light-hearted party was Henry Knox.
Enthusiasm always in high, the kind of man who'd never say "die,"
Robust, rotund, congenial giant was Henry Knox.

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"General George Washington"

D/L

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He was more than a picture on a postage stamp.
He was more than a face on a dollar bill.
He was more than the subject of a Gilbert Stuart portrait.
Not a man standing stiff, not a man standing still,
But a man of action with a job that must be done.
General George, General George Washington.
He led the British a merry chase
New York, New Jersey all over the place
With not enough men to fight
He had to stay in flight.
Cornwallis said: "We'll bag the fox,
Surround him, hound him into a box."
But that Britisher didn't know
His slyly wily foe.
He was more than a picture on a postage stamp.
He was more than a face on a dollar bill.
He was more than the subject of a Gilbert Stuart portrait.
Not a man standing stiff, not a man standing still,
But a man of action with a job that must be done.
General George, General George Washington.
He knew in order to win the race 
He had to pick the time and the place
When the odds were favoring him
But for quite a while it was dim.
Retreat, retreat was like a curse.
Defeat, defeat would be even worse
So he had to bide his time
Until his time was prime.
He was more than a picture on a postage stamp.
He was more than a face on a dollar bill.
He was more than the subject of a Gilbert Stuart portrait.
Not a man standing stiff, not a man standing still,
But a man of action with a job that must be done.
General George, General George Washington.
The spring of seventeen eighty-one
These were the words of Washington:
"Enough of turning back.
It's time that we attack."
At Yorktown when it was time to meet
Cornwallis suffered complete defeat
And ever since then
We've never retreated again.
He was more than a picture on a postage stamp.
He was more than a face on a dollar bill.
He was more than the subject of a Gilbert Stuart portrait.
Not a man standing stiff, not a man standing still,
But a man of action with a job that must be done.
General George, General George Washington.

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"John Glover"

D/L

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From Marblehead Harbor the mariners came,
Row, men, row.
To follow their captain, John Glover by name,
Row, men, row.
To do their part at the country's start
To march or saddle a horse
Or raise a jib in the first amphibious force.
Oh! Row, men; row, men;
Pull that oar and heave ho, men!
Sea or land keep a steady hand as we go. 
Heave ho!
When Washington made his Long Island retreat,
Row, men, row.
John Glover performed and impossible feat,
Row, men, row.
He had to ferry nine thousand men
With just nine hours until dawn.
He worked all night and by early light they were gone.
Oh! Row, men; row, men;
Pull that oar and heave ho, men!
Sea or land keep a steady hand as we go. 
Heave ho!
The Delaware Crossing that Washington made,
Row, men, row.
Succeeded because of John Glover's Brigade,
Row, men, row.
Two thousand men and their cannon too
Were moved 'neath the turbulent skies.
From this armada the Hessians got a surprise.
Oh! Row, men; row, men;
Pull that oar and heave ho, men!
Sea or land keep a steady hand as we go. 
Heave ho! Heave ho! Heave ho!
Heave ho! Heave ho! Heave ho! 
Heave ho!

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"General Von Steuben"

D/L

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Ein, zwei, drei, vier,
General Von Steuben was here,
Vier, drei, zwei, ein,
Now the army's lookin' fine.
Hup, zwei, drei, vier,
Hup, zwei, drei
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Von Steuben
Burst on the USA
One cold December day.
Seventeen seventy-seven was the year
And his services were badly needed here.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Von Steuben
Went down to Valley Forge
Looked around and said, "Herr George,
Seems to me your army is kaput!
Ev'rybody's marching on a diff'rent foot!"
I'd like to volunteer to put some order in your ranks
And if I'm successful Congress can appropriate some thanks.
So, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Von Steuben
Began this fearsome feat! 
To make the army neat.
Ein, zwei, drei, vier,
General Von Steuben was here,
Vier, drei, zwei, ein,
Now the army's lookin' fine.
All in line, lookin' fine.
Hup, zwei, drei, vier,
Hup, zwei, drei, vier.
He picked out one hundred soldiers and instructed them in person
Drilled morning, noon and night.
Drilled 'til they did it right.
When they mastered all that they were shown-
They were each assigned one hundred of their own.
'Cause he spoke no English he had trouble cussin' and discussin',
But he wasn't at a loss
Always got his point across.
Language diff'rence seems to diaappear-
When a man is truly honest and sincere.
His book of regulations for the order of the troops
Soon became a kind of Bible for the military groups.
What Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Von Steuben
Delcared the army goal still holds today "Ja-wohl"
Ein, zwei, drei, vier,
General Von Steuben was here,
Vier, drei, zwei, ein,
Now the army's lookin' fine.
All in line, lookin' fine, 
Shoes ashine, lookin' fine,
Hup, zwei, drei, vier,
Hup, zwei, drei, vier,
The Continental Soldier, an ordinary guy,
Woke up one day and found he was the original G.I.
The Continental Soldier had never fought before,
But there was Yankee Doodle in the middle of a war.
Not enough food to feed him, not enough clothes to wear,
Not enough funds to pay him, not enough men who care.
But enough love and freedom and enough deathless deeds
And enough of the stuff that a nation needs.
Ward, Lee, Schuyler, Putnam, Montgomery,
Thomas, Gates, Heath, Spencer, Sullivan,
Greene, Alexander, Lincoln, Howe, McDougal, Conway.
The Continental Soldier, The Continental Soldier
The Continental Soldier.

 

"Reprise"

D/L

NOTE: This section of "The Continental Soldier Suite" provides an excellent example of the virtuosity, versatility and musicianship of the choirboys of the Texas Boys' Choir under their director George Bragg. I have never heard such before. They are, in a word, "Magnificent!"

...the Webmaster

"The Continental Soldier Suite"
Words and Music by Ray Charles
Arranged and Orchestrated by Buryl Red
Directed by George Bragg - 1974

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