What are the lyrics to Parry's Songs of Farewell?
Read the words Hubert Parry put to his legendary wartime choral work
When and why did Hubert Parry compose is six Songs of Farewell?
Hubert Parry wrote his six Songs of Farewell between 1916 and 1918 as a nostalgic reflection on a life filled with music. But these majestic choral works are not just a goodbye to life. They are also a nostalgic eulogy to the England of his youth, which, by the time the motets were completed in 1915, had been irrevocably lost to the scourge of World War One.
What are the lyrics to Parry's Songs of Farewell
My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skilful in the wars:
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles
And One, born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And, O my soul, awake!
Did in pure love descend
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of Peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure
But One who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)
I know my soul hath power to know all things,
Yet she is blind and ignorant in all:
I know I’m one of Nature’s little kings,
Yet to the least and vilest things am thrall.
I know my life’s a pain and but a span;
I know my sense is mock’d in ev’rything;
And, to conclude, I know myself a Man,
Which is a proud and yet a wretched thing.
John Davies (1569-1626)
Never weather-beaten sail more willing bent to shore.
Never tired pilgrim’s limbs affected slumber more,
Than my wearied spite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast:
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest.
Ever blooming are the joys of Heaven’s high Paradise.
Cold age deafs not there our ears nor vapour dims our eyes:
Glory there the sun outshines whose beams the blessed only see:
O come quickly, glorious Lord, and raise my sprite to thee!
Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
There is an old belief,
That on some solemn shore,
Beyond the sphere of grief
Dear friends shall meet once more.
Beyond the sphere of Time and Sin
And Fate’s control,
Serene in changeless prime
Of body and of soul.
That creed I fain would keep
That hope I’ll ne’er forgo,
Eternal be the sleep,
If not to waken so.
John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854)
At the round earth’s imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls and to your scattered bodies go!
All whom the flood did, and fire shall overthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and who whose eyes
Shall behold God and never taste death’s woe;
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if Thou’dst sealed my pardon with Thy blood.
John Donne (1572-1631)
Lord, let me know mine end and the number of my days,
That I may be certified how long I have to live.
Thou has made my days as it were a span long;
And mine age is as nothing in respect of Thee,
And verily, ev’ry man living is altogether vanity,
For man walketh in a vain shadow
And disquieteth himself in vain,
He heapeth up riches and cannot tell who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what is my hope?
Truly my hope is even in Thee.
Deliver me from all mine offences
And make me not a rebuke to the foolish.
I became dumb and opened not my mouth
For it was Thy doing.
Take Thy plague away from me,
I am even consumed by means of Thy heavy hand.
When Thou with rebukes dost chasten man for sin
Thou makest his beauty to consume away
Like as it were a moth fretting a garment;
Ev’ry man therefore is but vanity.
Hear my pray’r, O Lord
And with Thine ears consider my calling,
Hold not Thy peace at my tears!
For I am a stranger with Thee and a sojourner
As all my fathers were.
O spare me a little, that I may recover my strength before I go hence
And be no more seen.
Psalm 39, verses 5-15
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.