Ten Ham Commandments

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While in the process of trying to pull together a reflective piece on Hamilton as public history, my friend Sarah H. had a dream where she saw me rewriting the lyrics to “Ten Duel Commandments.”

Challenge accepted.

What follows is the first of three completely different posts on the musical. You should be aware I wrote “Ten Ham Commandments” on a five-hour bus ride between DC and Newark, and in doing so I now have a reinforced appreciation for Lin Manuel Miranda’s skills. Seven was ridiculously hard to re-write (internal rhymes!), and refers to a response Miranda gave during his recent interview at the National Museum of American History about what he wanted his own legacy to be. You can listen and read the original lyrics here – with annotations. Thanks to Sarah H. for helping me edit. In the end this parody is really about how much Hamilton connects with a more inclusive view of the past.

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Ten Ham Commandments

[FULL COMPANY]
It’s the Ten Ham Commandments

Number one!

[LAURENS]
A history: starting a reaction
On a Founding Father, quickly gaining traction

[COMPANY]
Number two!

[LAURENS]
Just (you) wait, cast against, that’s your weapon

[HAMILTON]
No stereotype, A not-white Hamilton, wait a second

[COMPANY]
Number three!

[LEE]
Sing the stories, that often books erase

[BURR]
Navigate the time

[HAMILTON]
And navigate our time and place

[BURR]
This isn’t commonplace, ‘specially for some groups

[COMPANY]
“This is not for me,” not our roots

Number four

[LAURENS]
But Ham connects, and sparks a light
By making history ours and not just white

[HAMILTON]
For there are many angles here, and not just pity

[BURR]
More than who’s around, who rise up with ability

[COMPANY]
Five!

[LEE]
Let the women we see really fly

[COMPANY]
Tell us where she does so much more than sigh

Number six!

[HAMILTON]
Add a note to take a stand
Lend a helping hand. We’re running out of time on land

[COMPANY]
Seven!

[LEE]
Write it all down. So at the moment you’ll be gone you don’t wish that you had done it.

[COMPANY]
Number eight!

[LAURENS/LEE/HAMILTON/BURR]
Remind us a little bit on fate
See Ham and Burr talk du-els at an early date…

[BURR]
Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Aaron Burr, Sir

[BURR]
Can we agree that duels are dumb and immature?

[HAMILTON]
Sure
But your man has to answer for his words, Burr

[BURR]
With his life? We both know that’s absurd, sir.

[HAMILTON]
Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced and ruinous?

[BURR]
Okay, so we’re doin’ this

[COMPANY]
Number nine!

[HAMILTON]
Have us holler fie, aim so higher
Gather all the his’try, we desire
Then count

[MEN]
One two three four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five six seven eight nine

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Number

[COMPANY]
Ten paces

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Fire

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