The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Ça ira
ÇA IRA, sä ē-rạ, a popular song of the great French Revolution. The origin and date of this song are both uncertain, and there are various versions of the words claiming to be original. The words are generally supposed to have been written by Ladre, a street singer, and the melody was originally a popular carillon by Bécourt, and a favorite air of Marie Antoinette. In all probability it dates from May or June 1790. French writers say that Benjamin Franklin, in speaking of the American Revolution, frequently used the expression “Ça ira” (“it will succeed”). The French republicans caught up the phrase, and “consecrated” it to their own revolution in a popular hymn. The refrain of one version runs thus: —
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
referring to the rain which fell during the taking of the Bastile. In 1797 the song was banned by the Directory.