In the elder days of England’s past,
When Alfred was the King at last,
And Guthrum crept behind the hills,
To prey on Wessex and mock her ills,
There came a call in fen and weald,
To ‘bandon arms and flee the field.
But brave King Alfred, gift of God,
Took up the sword; his horse was shod,
Fighting now in swamp and moor,
He came upon a cottage poor,
And ‘mongst the pleasant Summer folk,
He planned to break the heathen yoke.
On princely isle he forged anew,
The sword and soul of England true,
He sallied from that marshy land,
Banner flying and spear in hand,
From shire, hundred and village small,
There came an army at Alfred’s call.
Swift they marched to Ethandune, to grassy hill,
Till dauntless came a horn call shrill,
The bitter taunt of faithless foes,
A herald as of hellish woes,
A wall of shields they builded strong,
Five men deep, a thousand long.
A heathen horde of Northmen came,
A reeking host of bearded Dane,
But Christian heart and shield held,
Thrice as many Danes were felled,
And pagan soul was much dismayed,
Their one time army; put to blade.
Good King Alfred rejoiced and drank,
A toast to sword, the Lord to thank,
And Guthrum took an oath of kin,
At Aller old he washed his sin,
All England sang of Alfred then,
The greatest now of English men.