Praise be! Here comes Old “Glory Allelujurum” Purefoy
U 14.886-8: I must acquaint you, said Mr Crotthers, clapping on the table so as to evoke a resonant comment of emphasis, old Glory Allelujurum was round again today, an elderly man with dundrearies.
Don Gifford (Ulysses Annotated) annotates “Glory Allelujurum”, as a “mocking name for Purefoy” turning “on the ejaculation “Glory Hallelujah” with which excited members of an American revivalist congregation would punctuate a sermon.
The expression “Glory Allelujurum” raises a number of questions:
- How can we explain the development from “Glory Alleluia” or “Glory Hallelujah” to “Glory Allelujurum”?
- Where does the expression come from?
- In what contexts was it used? Is it recorded as a personal epithet
- How did Joyce come across it?
Joyce includes “Glory Allelujeram oo-oojeram” in his Ulysses notebooks. This suggests that the expression was already in circulation before Joyce decided to weave it into his novel.
The origins of “Glory Hallelujah”
Sources from around 1850 refer to “Glory Alleluia Baptists” in America, and there is plenty of documentation, as Don Gifford implies, for the use of “Glory Alleluia” (or more often “Glory Hallelujah”) as a spontaneous outpouring of praise, especially in American Revivalist meetings, from the mid nineteenth century onwards.
In order to document the change from “alleluia” or “hallelujah” isn’t necessary to establish a form of the word in which the [j] was sounded as in “jolly”, rather than as in “year”.
The variant American regional spelling “hallelujer” perhaps indicates this pronunciation:
As may the form “halleloojah” (here in a
American Black English hymn):
The final stage of development calls for an explanation of the nonsense ending –um, turning “Hallelujer” or “Halleloojah” or any of their many spelling variants into “Hallelujerum”.
The appearance of the final –um in the transcription of Southern folk
songs and especially in Black folk rhymes is not hard to find, sometimes as an
additional syllable and sometimes just replacing an existing one. The New
York Evening Press for 15 February 1876 offers:
John F. Lacey: memorial volume (1915, p. 398) published by the Iowa
Conservation Association contains this verse:
William Visscher’s Poems of the South and other verse (1911, p. 270) provides further
evidence of the termination, in a religious context:
If Joyce didn’t invent the expression, how old can it be?
The earliest records of “Glory Hallelujeram”
and variants date from the 1860s. The song The
“Telligent Contraband (an Original Song and Dance By Charlie Pettengill) dates
from 1865, and contains this chorus, repeated after every verse:
In the following year George Sala used the
word in his Trip
to Barbary by a Roundabout Route:
Further examples include this one describing part of a Revivalist meeting:
another which had found itself way over as a curiosity to an Australian
There is plenty of documentary evidence for its continued use, mainly in American Regional or Black English, into the twentieth century. Allan Pinkerton cites snatches from “plantation melodies”, including “Glory, glory, glory hallelujerum!”, in his Spy of the Rebellion (1883 , ch. 20 p. 319).
The London Sporting Times (16 October 1886) – quoting the Daily News - plants the expression in the context of General Booth
and the Salvation Army:
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (“Q.”) slipped it
into his Delectable Duchy (1893, p.
Back in the early days the praise-speaking nature of the expression seems to be associated with optimistic Black responses to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, when southern Blacks looked to the Union army in the north to free them from their enslavement. Even the Pettengill song mentioned earlier refers to the “glorious proclamation”. Abraham Lincoln was often referred to as “Lincum” or “Linkum”, with a terminal –um, in contemporaneous representations of southern Black speech.
Was the expression used as a personal epithet?
Joyce calls Purefoy the Methodist “old Glory Allelujurum”. This use as a personal
epithet is documented elsewhere. The New
York Times of 13 November 1894 carries a version of an undistinguished poem
then doing the rounds, called “Glory Hallelujerum Jones”:
How did Joyce come across the expression?
Joyce’s source has not yet been identified. His notebook version “Glory Allelujerum, oo-oojerum!” feels closer to the original than does the version found in Ulysses. But Black and Regional American usage systematically prefers the aspirated form, of the type “Hallelujerum”. This suggests that Joyce may have come across it in an English or Irish context.
It seems possible that Joyce encountered the term at one of the blackface minstrel shows that were popular entertainments at the time in Dublin and elsewhere. Some of these were American groups, but others were Irish ensembles, such as the Ohio Minstrels, who performed in Dublin in the 1890s (see A perfect cretic floating down the O-hi-O). Alternatively, “Glory Hallelujerum” had clearly made its way into popular literature and journalism outside America, and so perhaps we need to look no further than that for the link.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that the expression “Glory Hallelujerum” and all of its variants predated Joyce by some years, arising in the southern States of America around the time of the Civil War and persisting in praise-singing and in other contexts into the twentieth century. Although we do not yet know the mechanism by which Joyce acquired the expression, it is possible to imagine that he encountered it on the Dublin musical stage or through the popular literature and journalism of the day.
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