Thomas Arne

Rule, Britannia, for orchestra/band (with voice and/or chorus ad lib)

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778) was the son of a well-to-do artisan from Covent Garden in London. The future composer received legal training and began to practice that profession, but found that he preferred music instead. He started studying and attending musical events in disguise and managed enough early success to survive the explosion that came when his father found out.

    Arne had his breakout year as a composer in 1740 with two major state-sponsored hits. The first was his musical setting of a masque written by Congreve, The Judgment of Paris. The success of this work led to Arne's being engaged by Frederick, Prince of Wales, to write music for a new masque, Alfred, that the Prince wished to stage to honor the accession of his father, King George I, to the British throne and to celebrate the birthday of Princess Augusta. Alfred was performed at Cliveden House in Maidenhead, the residence of Prince Frederick, in 1740. "Rule, Britannia!" was the stirring finale of the masque, and it was acclaimed from the start. The text was written by James Thompson (1700-1748).

    "Rule, Britannia!" was not heard in London until 1745, but from its first performance there it became nearly universally known and loved. The Jacobite opponents of the Hanoverian dynasty even attempted to co-opt the song by writing their own words to its infectious, Handelian tune. In practice, the song is known primarily through its rousing refrain -- the part that actually begins with the words "Rule, Britannia!" The late Peter Pears once recorded the whole melody with all its several verses, revealing that in toto this famous song is actually pretty tedious.

    But the good bits are still beloved by patriotic Britons who like to remember when the Royal Navy really did rule the waves. "Rule, Britannia!" still maintains its status as the favorite patriotic air of the British people and as an unofficial second national anthem.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Harmonia Mundi SP 150DI
    2019 Harmonia Mundi HMM 902628
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 ABC Classics
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music 88985301152
    2016 ABC Classics 4812424
    2016 ABC Classics
    2016 Classic FM / Decca CFMD 47
    2016 Resonus Classics RES 10179
    2016 Sony Classical 88985357942
    2015 ABC Classics 4811143
    2015 Crimson CRIMRA 01
    2014 Sony Classical 88843087292
    2014 Carl Davis Collection CDC 025
    2013 K-Tel 82464
    2012 Warner Classics 665475
    2012 Spectrum Music SPEC 2104
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099944030
    2012 Memory Lane GLMY 54
    2012 Warner Music
    2012 London Philharmonic Orchestra / LPO LPO 0063
    2011 Sony Classical 88697898632
    2011 Decca
    2011 Royal Philharmonic Masterworks RPM 28740
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4805207
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca CFMD 21
    2011 Regis / Regis Records RRC 1337
    2011 Altissimo 61372
    2010 Spectrum Music SPEC 2046
    2010 ABC Classics 4764061
    2008 Silva America SILCD 4172
    2008 Decca 4800476
    2008 The Gift of Music 1053
    2008 The Gift of Music CDG1126
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 283792
    2007 Warner Music 2564 69893-1
    2007 Philips
    2005 Warner Music 4619562
    2005 Crimson Productions 350
    2004 Castle Pulse PBXCD 566
    2004 Dmg Tv DMGTV 007
    2003 K-Tel Distribution 3816
    2002 Soundline / Soundline Band SLB 4004
    2002 Soundline 4015
    2002 Decca 470382
    2002 K-Tel Distribution ECD 3764
    2000 Pearl GEM 0081
    2000 Bandleader 8005
    2000 Herald Records 232
    2000 Discom / Disky 997402
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 69606
    1999 Polygram 466075
    1999 Intersound 2874
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 72433
    1998 EMI Music Distribution CD-CFP6063
    1997 Sony Classical 63154
    1996 Vanguard Classics 51
    1996 Philips 4541722
    1995 Saydisc CDSDL 400
    1994 Teldec 97868
    1993 Classics for Pleasure / EMI Music Distribution CDCFP-4611
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 62932
    1993 Bandleader 5047
    1992 CBS Records / Sony Classical 48473
    1987 Bandleader 5015
    Doyen 079
    IBS 1033
    Sony Music Distribution 46709
    Pickwick 7025
    BBC Music 580
    In Classical Mood 12010
    BBC Music Magazine 72
    CBS Records Masterworks 45734
    Musketeer Records 5008
    RCA 60243
    Rainbow Media OMP 5362
    EMI Music Distribution 4567
    Carlton Classics 5691912