or Lilli-Bullero and Bullen-a-lah. Said to
have been the words of distinction used by the Irish Papists in their
massacres of the Protestants in 1641. A song with the refrain of
bullen-a-la!” was written by Lord Wharton, which had a more
powerful effect than the philippics of either Demosthenes or Cicero,
and contributed not a little to the great revolution of 1688. Burnet
says, “It made an impression on the [king's] army that cannot be
imagined. ... The whole army, and at last the people, both in city and
country, were singing it perpetually ... never had so slight a thing so
great an effect.” The song is in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English
Poetry, series ii. bk. 3. (See
Lilli bullero, lilli bullero bullen a la, Lero lero, lilli bullero, lero lero bullen a la, Lero lero, lilli bullero, lero lero bullen a la.
Mr. Chappell attributes the air to Henry Purcell.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894