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Lilliburlero, also known as The Protestant Boys, is a march that sets the doggerel lyrics of a ballad generally attributed to Lord Thomas Wharton to music by Henry Purcell.

The original lyrics refer to the Glorious Revolution, an episode in the history of the United Kingdom in which King James II abdicated and fled, and William I was invited by Parliament to the throne. James II then tried to reclaim the crown with the assistance of France; his invasion of Ireland was thwarted at the Battle of the Boyne. The original lyrics themselves are cast in the form of a satirical speech put in the mouth of Irish nationalist rebels. They include these words and the chorus:

But if dispense do come from de Pope,
Lilliburlero, bullen a la,
We'll hang Magna Carta and dem in a rope.
Lilliburlero, bullen a la.
. . . .

Who in all France have taken a swear,
Lilliburlero, bullen a la,
Dat they will have no Protestant heir,
Lilliburlero, bullen a la.

Lero, lero, lilliburlero,
Lilliburlero, bullen a la.
Lero, lero, lilliburlero,
Lilliburlero, bullen a la.

The meaning of the chorus and the refrain are also obscure, but they have been interpreted as a garbled version of the Irish words an lile ba léir é ba linn an lá, "the lily was clear, the day was ours." The lily may be the fleur de lis of France.

Purcell's music, without these lyrics, is used as theme music by the international broadcasting service of the BBC.

Other words have been set to the tune. Of these words, the most well known, or notorious, is The Protestant Boys, an Ulster Protestant folk lyric which is sung and played by the Orange Order during its parades, which have been made the subject of controversy during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These lyrics begin:

The Protestant Boys are loyal and true
Stout hearted in battle and stout-handed too
The Protestant Boys are true to the last
And faithful and peaceful when danger has passed
And Oh! they bear and proudly wear
The colours that floated o'er many a fray
Where cannons were flashing
And sabers were clashing
The Protestant Boys still carried the day.

See also: The Boyne Water; Croppies Lie Down

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