LYRICS: Choral Music

...a plague o' your houses

George Szirtes




‘Science for the curious’ is what it says   

on the slick caption.  The curious are pressed

tightly into a book, still hoping to be blessed.

Each bears a coffin at which someone prays.


Crosses, coffins and cowls determine them

according to the medieval scheme

of superstition, death and troubling dream.

It’s half cosmology, half stratagem.


Do smell them, Highness, as they struggle on.

The plague exhausts them.  Science moves off stage,

just one pale rider left and one bare field


To conjure with.  And soon they are all gone.

There are no options here except to yield

or else keep hoping someone turns the page.


It’s the moment words

become white noise in the mouth

that exhausts.  Not lies

but the sound lies make.

Not the lack of clarity

or transparency

But the fleeting thought

of the crystal clear moment

before white noise comes,

before the mouth starts.




The man with broad-brimmed hat and bird-mask waits

a moment before entering.  His scent

wafts by you, Highness, as presentiment

of what must follow.  Watch how he operates


in his full gown.  Observe how he inspects

the body, turning it here and there at distance

with his cane, meeting no resistance.

Note how he prods it.  He’s the bird that pecks


at corruption.  He sees the patient’s hands

are black with the usual buboes.  This is all

by the script.  It’s the very reason for his call.

The plague is spreading.  It makes strict demands.


We watch familiar birds hovering in the air.

They will not ring the bell.  Nor are we there.



After the echo

there was nothing left to say

nor could they say it.

They simply stopped dead

as if nothing had happened

since nothing much had.

Sober ministers

of state stopped giving statements.

The world continued

drunk but unsated.




Everything beings somewhere.  Everything is ‘here’.

Here is where the enemy starts his long

arduous campaign, launching the first spear.

He has no home, has no desire to belong


to just one place and so he moves about.

Two skeletons clench by a fetid pool,

and soon a table with a glass of stout

and cloudy water carry one to stool


another to feast.  You watch a man collapse

at one point on the map, one street, and soon

everyone’s falling.  Death runs from open taps


and drops from the singer’s mouth.  There are few

remaining, Highness.  We watch the sun at noon

rise ever higher, burning off late dew.



No, don’t make it clear.

Speak as through a veil.  Whisper

inaudibly.  Sigh

like a stoned lover

on an unmade bed.  Blush.  Hint.

Be ambiguous.

Don’t elucidate.

Let your thoughts not be with us

at this troubled time.

Bring dense smoke.  Bring fire.




The khaki flu.  The extra years of war

that is no war.  From country seats to huts,

from shacks to palaces.  You can’t keep score

of numbers.  State by state the country shuts


its eyes and mouth and soon begins to drown.

Its skin turns blud and within hours it’s dead.

The rest wear masks and camphor.  The whole town

is dream terrain, a dull street-plan of dread.


The cull is on, Your Highness.  World is thinning.

Let’s call it nature or divine constraint.

It is the way we’ve live since the beginning.

Cover the doors in blood or chalk or paint.


That is the age-old troubled human scene.

It’s time for better drugs and quarantine.



Somewhere in England

there are pantomime angels

taking possession

of shopping centres

and well kept civic gardens,

and here is their chief.

Hail and welcome back

Angel of Uncertainty.

Extend your wingspan

and sing as you must.




Now here we are in quarantine, our ears

sharpened to the footsteps stalking us.




We watch the passing of the empty bus

as one more phantom carrier appears

and swerves around us grinning as he goes.

[and here is their chief.

 Hail and welcome back

Angel of Uncertainty…

No, don’t make it clear.

Speak as through a veil.  Whisper




Elsewhere the poor are jammed into their rooms

to gaze from blocks that reek too much of tombs

intended for them, while the virus throws


its net across the whole estate like smoke.



[The world continued…]



Observe, Highness, how some of them remain

still poorer, and while you and I should live,


survival will be harder to forgive,

though later it might serve for a black joke,

that you, Highness, might very well explain.




[The world continued…]

introit: cantate domino

Psalm 98: v.1, 4 – 6 (KJV)

O sing unto the Lord a new song;                                                                                        for he hath done marvellous things:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth:                                                          make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Sing unto the Lord with the harp;                                                                                    with the harp, and the voice of a psalm

With trumpets and sound of cornet                                                                                make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.

the traveller's carol

George Szirtes

How heavy our hearts when we left our homes,

How sad we grew with each fond farewell,

How we all trembled in our bones

As the tide reared high and we rose and fell.

                Peace be to you and peace on earth.


How hard we fought for our daily bread,

For a place to live and to settle down,

How well have we fared despite our dead

In a brand new street and a brand new town.

                Peace be to you and peace on earth.

How far we have come to be standing here,

How many changes fell our way,

And so we survived from year to year,

Here we found light in our darkest day.

                Peace be to you and peace on earth.

Moths and vermin can wreck the store,

Thieves can break in and steal the grain.

Once we were few, together we’re more,

All precious links in the human chain.

                Peace be to you and peace on earth.


A birth led us on, new life was the call,

We’re born ever new from day to day.

Let peace be the journey, peace for all,

To those who are labouring on their way.

                For every step is a day of birth.

                Peace be to you and peace on earth.

...why hear'st thou music sadly? (Sonnet VIII)

William Shakespeare

Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?                                                            Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.                                                                  Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,                                                        Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?                                                                      If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,                                                                          By unions married, do offend thine ear,                                                                       They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds                                                          In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.                                                        Mark, how one string, sweet husband to another,                                                  Strikes each in each, by mutual ordering;                                                        Resembling sire and child and happy mother,                                                              Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:                                                                                             Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,                                                       Sings this to thee, – “Thou single wilt prove none.”

Folk Song Suite 

This old hammer
This old hammer killed John Henry (x3), but it won’t kill me.

Zum gali gali
Pioneers must work every day, from dawn ’til day is done. From dawn ’til day is done, there is work for everyone.

Zum gali gali gali, zum gali gali, Zum gali gali gali, zum.

Pioneers will sing and dance, dance the hora in a ring,
Dance the hora in a ring, with their best girls, dance and sing.

Zum gali gali gali, zum gali gali, Zum gali gali gali, zum.

Pioneers will work for peace, from dawn ’til day is done. From dawn ’til day is done, true peace for everyone.

Zum gali gali gali, zum gali gali, Zum gali gali gali, zum.

(repeat This old hammer)

The tinker’s Wedding
There were herrin’ heads an’ bits a bread, herrin’ heads an’ haddies, O! Herrin’ heads an’ bits a bread, to carry on the weddin’ O!

Drummer a doo a doo a day, drummer a doo a daddin’ O! Drummer a doo a doo a day, hurrah for the tinker’s weddin’ O!

They tramp it o’er the Biallach Way, Biallach Way, Biallach Way, Tramp it o’er the Biallach Way, and bracken was their beddin’ O!

Drummer a doo…

We never dwell in but an’ ben, but an’ ben, but an’ ben,
Never dwell in but an’ be, we camp where trees are spreadin’ O!

Drummer a doo…

We tightened up the tent a wee, tent a wee, tent a wee, Tightened up the tent a wee we’d bracken for our beddin’ O!

Drummer a doo…

(instrumental jigs)…

Drummer a doo a doo a day, drummer a doo a daddin’ O! Drummer a doo a doo a day, hurrah for the tinker’s weddin’ O!

Go down Moses

Ah … Ah …

When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go!

Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land.
Tell old Pharaoh, to let my people go.
Ah … Ah …

The Lord told Moses what to do, let my people go!
To lead the children of Israel through, let my people go!

Go down Moses … Ah … Ah …

Your foes shall not before you stand, let my people go! And you’ll possess fair Canaan’s land, let my people go!

Go down Moses … Ah … Ah …(x5)

Hava Nagilah
Hava nagila, hava nagila, hava nagila ve-nismekha
Hava nagilah, hava nagilah, hava nagila ve-nismekha Hava neranenah, hava neranenah, hava, hava, neranenah Hava neranenah, hava neranenah, hava, hava, neranenah

Uru, uru akhim!
Uru akhim be-lev sameakhḥ (x4) Uru akhim, uru akhim!
Be-lev sameakhḥ


Prayer & Supplication

Ave maris stella

Ave maris stella
Dei Mater alma,                                                                                                                    atque semper Virgo,                                                                                                            felix coeli porta.

Sumens illud “Ave”                                                                                                                Gabrielis ore,
funda nos in pace                                                                                                        mutans “Evae” nomen.

Solve vincla reis,                                                                                                                      profer lumen caecis,                                                                                                              mala nostra pelle,                                                                                                              bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse matrem                                                                                                  sumat per te preces,
qui pro novis natus,
tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,                                                                                                                inter omnes mitis,                                                                                                                nos culpis solutes                                                                                                                    mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,                                                                                                              Iter para tutum,
ut videntes Jesum                                                                                                                semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri                                                                                                                  Deo Patre,                                                                                                        Spiritui Sancto
Tribus honor unus.                                                                                                                    Amen.

Psalm 102 v.1-12

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
Let my cry come to Thee!
Do not hide Thy face from me in the day of my distress!

Incline thy ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call! For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

My heart is smitten like grass, and withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning my bones cleave to my flesh.

I am like a vulture of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places;

I lie awake,
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. All the day my enemies taunt me,
those who deride me use my name for a curse.

For I eat ashes like bread,
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of thy indignation and anger,
for thou hast taken me up and thrown me away.

My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

But Thou, O Lord, art enthroned for ever; thy name endures to all generations.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
World without end. Amen.

By this will all men know

Text: J. R. Kennedy

Chorus:                                                                                                                                    Gloria Patri et filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper in secula seculorum.                                          Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy upon us.

Soprano solo:

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

(1 Cor.14 v.4)

Baritone solo:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal

(1 Cor. 13 v.1)


Kyrie eleison…. And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech

(Genesis 11 vv.1, 6-7)

Christe eleison. Christ have mercy upon us.

Hineh mah tov umah nayim
Shevet achim gam yachad.
[Behold how good and how pleasant it is                                                                             
For brethren to dwell together in unity.]

(Psalm 133 v.1)

Baritone solo:                                                                                                                Nothing is altogether soundless. Well then, if I do not know the meaning of the sound the speaker makes, his words will be gibberish to me, and mine to him.

(1 Cor. 14 v. 10-11 N.E.B.)


Hineh mah tov umah nayim
Shevet achim gam yachad.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in
one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

(Acts 2 vv.1 – 4)

The disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke of the great things God had done. Alleluia.

(A.S.B. Post communion Sentence – Pentecost)

We hear them telling in our own tongues the great things God has done. (Alleluia.) (Acts 2 v.11 N.E.B.

By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13 v. 35 RSV)

Lord have mercy upon us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever.

Soprano solo: Gloria Patri et filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

A Life to Grow

For SATB choir, brass quintet and organ

1. Brass Prelude

2. “And there were shepherds” (Luke 2: v 8-11)

And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch o’er their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.   And the angel said to them:

“Fear not! Behold, good tidings of great joy I bring to you which shall be to all mankind. Unto you this day a Saviour is born, Christ, the Lord! Unto you this day, a Saviour is born in the city of David.”

And there were shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch o’er their flocks by night.  (In the city of David unto us is born: Jesus Christ our Saviour)

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3. Psalm 100: Jubilate Deo

O be joyful in the Lord all ye lands, serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song! Be ye sure that the Lord, he is God. It is He that hath made us, made us. It is He, not ourselves, that hath made us, made us. We are His people, and the sheep of his pasture. O be joyful in the Lord all ye lands. O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and speak good of His name. For the Lord is gracious, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth from generation to generation.

Jubilate Deo!

4. A Birth Was Made
 Words by P.M. Lambert.

1. A birth was made in testament land, Realm of life, trickling sand, Familiar names, the same old song; Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby love Lord Jesus.

2. A birth was made by the Father of all. A life to grow, and then to fall. Remember’d now in pagan mood,

Lullaby love and too much food in honour of Baby Jesus.

3. A birth was made, we know the scene, Baby meek and mild;
Born for our sake, the Christmas cake, Hang cattle stalls with silver balls, And glitter the Mother and Child.

4. A birth was made, we know the scene, Baby meek and mild;
Still we praise our famous men,
But God is greatest now as then. Glory to Jesus, the child.

5. A birth was made in testament land, Realm of life, trickling sand, Familiar names, the same old song; Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby love Lord Jesus.

A life to grow, Lord Jesus, Lullaby love, lullaby Lord Jesus.

5. Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


1. Nongtongpaw
by Charles Dibdin (1745 – 1813)

1. John Bull for pastime took a prance,
Some time ago, to peep at France;
To talk of sciences and arts,
And knowledge gain’d in foreign parts. Monsieur, obsequious, heard him speak,

And answer’d John in heathen Greek: To all he ask’d, ‘bout all he saw, ‘Twas, Monsieur, je vous n’entends pas.

2. John, to the Palace Royal come,
Its splendour almost struck him dumb. ‘I say, whose house is that there here?’ ‘House! Je vous n’entends pas, Monsieur.’
‘What, Nongtongpaw again!’ cries John;
‘This fellow is some mighty Don:
No doubt he’s plenty for the maw,
I’ll breakfast with this Nongtongpaw.’

3. John saw Versailles from Marli’s height,
And cried, astonish’d at the sight, ‘Whose fine estate is that there here?’ ‘State! Je vous n’entends pas, Monsieur.’
‘His? What! The land and houses too? The fellow’s richer than a Jew:

On everything he lays his claw!
I should like to dine with Nongtongpaw.’

4. Next tripping came a courtly fair,
John cried, enchanted with her air, ‘What lovely wench is that there here?’
‘Ventch! Je vous n’entends pas, Monsieur.’
‘What, he again? Upon my life!
A palace, lands and then a wife
Sir Joshua might delight to draw:
I should like to sup with Nongtongpaw.’

5. ‘But hold! Whose funeral’s that?’ cries John.
‘Je vous n’entends pas’ – ‘What, is he gone?
Wealth, fame and beauty could not save

Poor Nongtongpaw then from his grave!
His race is run, his game is up –
I’d with him breakfast, dine and sup; But since he chooses to withdraw, Good night t’ye, Mounseer Nongtongpaw!’

by Dr. James Ball Naylor (b. 1860)

King David and King Solomon led merry merry lives
With many many lady friends and many many wives.
But when old age crept over them with many many qualms King Solomon wrote Proverbs and King David wrote the Psalms.

Respire, Aspire, Suspire

There was a young girl in the choir
Whose voice arose higher and higher
Till one Sunday night
It rose quite out of sight
And they found it next day on the spire.

2. A Dutchman’s Dog Story
by J. T. Brown

1. Dere vhas a leedle vomans once
Who keept a leedle shtore,
Und had a leedle puppy dog
Dot shtoodt pefore der door.
Und evfery dime der peoples coom
He opened vide him’s jaw.
Schip! Schnap! shoost so,
Und bite dem.

2. Vun day anoder puppy dog Cooms runnin’ down der shtreet,
Oudt of Herr Schneider’s sausage-shop,
Vhere he had shtoled some meat;
Und after him der Schneider man –
Der vhind vhas not more fleet.
Whir-r-r! Whist! shoost so,
Like vinkin’!

3. Der leedle voman’s puppy dog
Vhas lookin’ at der fun,
He barkit at der Schneider man, Und right pefore him run;
Den fell him down, dot Schneider man,
Like shooted mit a gun.
Bang! Crash! shoost so,
Und voorser.

4. Der puppy dog dot shtoled der meat,
Roon’d on und got avhay;
Der leedle voman’s puppy dog Der Schneider man did slay, Und make him indo sausages – Dot’s vot der peoples say.
Chip! Chop! shoost so,
Und sell him.

Der Moral

5. Der moral is, don’t interfere Vhen droubles is around;
Der man dot’s in der fightin’ crowd
Vhill get hurt I’ll be pound.
Mind your own peesness, dot is pest, In life she vhill be found.
Yaw! Yaw! shoost so,
I pet you.

3. Song by Rogero, in the Rovers
by George Canning (1770 – 1827)

1. Whene’er with haggard eyes I view
This Dungeon, that I’m rotting in,
I think of those Companions true
Who studied with me at the U–NIVERSITY of Gottingen,
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen.

2. Sweet kerchief, check’d with heavn’ly blue,
Which once my love sat knotting in! –
Alas! MATILDA then was true! –
At least I thought so at the U-
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen –
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen.

3. Barbs! Barbs! Alas! How swift you flew
Her neat Post-Waggon trotting in!
Ye bore MATILDA from my view.
Forlon I languish’s at the U-
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen –
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen.

4. This faded form! This pallid hue!
This blood my veins is clotting in.
My years are many – They were few
When first I entered at the U-
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen –
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen.

5. There first for thee my passion grew,
Thou wast the daughter of my TU-
-TOR, Law Professor at the U-
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen! –
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen!

6. Sun, moon, and thou vain world, adieu,
That kings and priests are plotting in:
Here doom’d to starve on water-gru-el, never shall I see the U-
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen –
-NIVERSITY of Gottingen.

B. Frederick Twitchell
(Departed June 11, 1811, Aged 24 years, 5 mos.)

Here lie the bones of Lazy Fred
Who wasted precious time in bed.
Some plaster fell down on his head
And thanks be praised Our Freddie’s dead.

The Rash Lady of Ryde

There was an old lady of Ryde
Who ate some green apples and died.
The apples (fermented inside the lamented)
Made cider inside ‘er inside.

Limerick – Epitaph

There was an old man who averred
He had learned how to fly like a bird.
Cheered by thousands of people
He leapt from the steeple….
This tomb states the date it occurred.

4. On the Motor Bus
by A. D. Godley

What is this that roareth thus? Can it be a Motor Bus?
Yes, the smell and hideous hum Indicat Motorem Bum!
Implet in the Corn and High Terror me Motoris Bi:
Bo Motori clamitabo
Ne Motore caedar a Bo – Dative be or Ablative
So thou only let us live: – Whither shall thy victims flee? Spare us, spare us, Motor Be! Thus I sang; and still anigh Came in hordes Motores Bi,
Et complebat omne forum Copia Motorum Borum.
How shall wretches live like us Cincti Bis Motoribus?
Domine, defende nos
Contra hos Motores Bos!

C. The Tired Woman’s Epitaph

Here lies a poor woman who always was tired.
She lived in a house where help was not hired.
Her last words on earth were: ‘Dear friends, I am going
Where washing ain’t done nor sweeping nor sewing;

But everything there is exact to my wishes;
For where they don’t eat there’s no washing of dishes. I’ll be where loud anthems will always be ringing,
But, having no voice, I’ll be clear of the singing.
Don’t mourn for me now; don’t mourn for me never – I’m going to do nothing for ever and ever.’

5. Two Old Crows
by Vachel Lindsay (1879 – 1931)

Two old crows sat on a fence rail.
Two old crows sat on a fence rail,
Thinking of effect and cause,
Of weeds and flowers,
And nature’s laws.
One of them muttered, one of them stuttered,
One of them stuttered, one of them muttered.
Each of them thought far more than he uttered.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle:
The muttering crow
Asked the stuttering crow,
‘Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?
Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?’
‘Bee-cause,’ said the other crow,
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause.’
Just then a bee flew close to their rail: – ‘Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.’
And those two black crows
Turned pale,
And away those crows did sail.
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause.
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause. ‘Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.’


Psalm 145 v. 1-7/21

I will extol thee, my God, O King and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts and I will declare thy greatness.

They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness and shall sing of thy righteousness.

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever, Amen.


anon. 15th century

Adam lay ybounden,                                                                                                    Bounden in a bond;                                                                                                            Four thousand winter                                                                                               Thought he not too long.

And all was for an apple,                                                                                                    An apple that he took,                                                                                                            As clerkes finden                                                                                                                      Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been,                                                                                              The apple taken been,                                                                                                            Ne had never our lady                                                                                                          A-been hevene queen.

Blessed be the time                                                                                                          That apple taken was.                                                                                            Therefore we moun singen,                                                                                                Deo gracias!


Introit: Venite exultemus
verses 1-3 of Psalm 95, from The Book of Common Prayer

O come let us sing unto the Lord.
Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods. Amen.



Verses 1-7, 13-14 from the Alternative Service Book 1980

1. As a deer longs for the running brooks: so longs my soul for you, O God.

2. My soul is thirsty for God, thirsty for the living God: when shall I come and see his face?

3. My tears have been my food day and night: while they ask me all day long, where now is your God?

4. As I pour out my soul by myself, I remember this:
how I went to the house of the Mighty One into the temple of God,

5. to the shouts and songs of thanksgiving: a multitude keeping high festival.

6. Why are you so full of heaviness, my soul: and why so unquiet within me?

7. O put your trust in God:
for I will praise him yet who is my deliverer and my God.

10. Surely the Lord will grant his loving mercy in the daytime
and in the night his song will be with me, a pray’r to the God of my life.

13. Why are you so full of heaviness, my soul: and why so unquiet within me?

14. O put your trust in God: for I will praise him yet who is my deliverer and my God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be: world without end.



I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

Because he hath inclined his ear to me, therefore will I call upon him, as long as I live.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me:

I found trouble and sorrow.

Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord I beseech thee, deliver my soul.”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?

I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.

In the courts of the Lord`s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.

O praise the Lord! (Our God is merciful and righteous.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; I will take up the cup of salvation, O praise the Lord!)


A prayer by St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)- text taken from ‘Daily Prayer’ (OUP London) compiled by Eric Milner-white and G.W. Briggs

Lord, make us instruments of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon;

Lord, make us instruments of thy peace; where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;

Lord, make us instruments of thy peace. Where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light,
where there is sadness, joy;

Lord, make us instruments of thy peace, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake. Amen.


Text from The Oxford Book of Carols, 1928

1. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day:
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, O my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.

2. Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance;
Thus was I knit to man’s nature,
To call my true love to my dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, O my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.

3. In a manger laid and wrapped I was,
So very poor, this was my chance,
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,
To call my true love to my dance,
To call my true love to my dance.

4. Then afterwards baptised I was
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above
To call my true love to my dance.

5. Into the desert I was led;
Where I fasted without substance:
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love’s dance.

6. The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, O my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.

7. For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance;
‘Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold,’
The same is he shall lead the dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, O my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.

8. Before Pilate the Jews are brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance.

9. Then on the cross hangèd I was
Where a spear to my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance;

My true love, to call my true love to my dance.

10. Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love’s deliverance,
And rose again, rose again, rose again,
Rose on the third day, my true love and the dance.

11. Then up to heav’n I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God,
That man may come unto the gen’ral dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, O my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.


Robert Herrick (`Hesperides` 1647)

What sweeter music can we bring Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King? Awake the voice! Awake the string!

We see him come, and know him ours, Who with his sunshine and his showers Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

Dark and dull night, fly hence away, And give the honour to this day, That sees December turned to May, If we may ask the reason, say:

We see him come, and know him ours, Who with his sunshine and his showers Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

The darling of the world is come, And fit it is we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part Of all the house here is the heart:

We see him come, and know him ours, Who with his sunshine and his showers Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

Which we will give him, and bequeath This holly and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour who’s our King, And Lord of all this revelling:

We see him come, and know him ours, Who with his sunshine and his showers Turns all the patient ground to flowers.



Panis angelicus fit panis hominum; dat panis coelicus figuris terminum: O res mirabilis! manducat Dominum, Pauper, servus et humilis.

Te trina Deitas unaque poscimus:
sic nos tu visita, sicut te colimus;
per tuas semitas duc nos quo tendimus, ad lucem quam inhabitas.
(O res mirabilis; man ducat Dominum, pauper servus humilis. Amen.)

(translation):                                                                                                                        Bread of the Angels
Is made bread for mankind;
Gifted bread of Heaven
Of all imaginings the end;
Oh, thing miraculous!
This body of God will nourish
the poor, the servile, and the humble.

Thee Triune God,
We beseech;
Do us Thou visit,
Just as Thee we worship. By Thy ways,

lead us where we are heading, to the light Thou dwellest in. Amen.


Sing to me, sing to me, sing Through the noise and the din Insinuate Perpetuate
The truths of old.

Sing to me, sing to me, soft Through the hurry, and the haste Illuminate Communicate
The bliss foretold.

Through this broken world, a sigh Through the void, an angel`s cry For we sinners,
Christ within us,
The Light is come.

Sing to me, sing to me, clear Through the anger, through the fear Commemorate
And celebrate
His blessed love.

Sing to me, sing to me, loud Through the rushing, pushing crowd Regenerate
That perfect love.

Stop the shouts!, stop the cries! Search the Heavens Search the skies.

Hush! So listen. Hush! Can you hear? Hush! Listen. Soft and clear.


Through this broken world, a sigh Through the void, an angel`s cry For we sinners,
Christ within us,
The Light is come.

Christ is with us, Christ is here! The Truth, His holy Word, is near The Peace of God
Is all around
The peace of God
The only sound,
The Peace, the Peace.
The Peace that brings
Our ease, our calm.

His blessed Peace.

Sing to me, sing to me, sing Through the anger, through the fear Sing to me, sing to me, sing
Of His blessed Peace.

Hilary Spiers, 2009


The Jackdaw sat on the Cardinal’s chair!                                                                            Bishop, and abbot, and prior were there;                                                                                 Many a monk and many a friar,                                                                                             Many a knight and many a squire,                                                                                    With a great many more of lesser degree, –                                                                    In sooth a goodly company;                                                                                                  And they served the Lord Primate on bended knee.                                                                      Never, I ween,                                                                                                                            Was a prouder seen,                                                                                                        Read of in books, or dreamt of in dreams,                                                                          Than the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims!

In and out                                                                                                                                  Through the motley rout,                                                                                                That little Jackdaw kept hopping about;                                                                                      Here and there                                                                                                                         Like a dog in a fair,                                                                                                                   Over comfits and cates,                                                                                                           And dishes and plates,                                                                                                  Cowl and cope, and rochet and pall,                                                                                    Mitre and crosier! he hopped upon all!                                                                                          With saucy air,                                                                                                                           He perched on the chair                                                                                    Where, in state, the great Lord Cardinal sat                                                                      In the great Lord Cardinal’s great red hat;                                                                                     And he peered in the face                                                                                                     Of his Lordship’s Grace,                                                                                                With a satisfied look, as if he would say,                                                                            ‘We two are the greatest folks here to-day!’                                                                                And the priests with awe,                                                                                                        As such freaks they saw,                                                                                        Said, ‘The Devil must be in that little Jackdaw!’

The feast was over, the board was cleared,                                                                        The flawns and the custards had all disappeared,                                                            And six little Singing-boy, – dear little souls!                                                                      In nice clean faces, and nice white stoles,                                                                                      Came in order due,                                                                                                                  Two by two,                                                                                                                    Marching that grand refectory through!                                                                            A nice little boy held a golden ewer,                                                                 Embossed and filled with water, as pure                                                                        As any that flows between Rheims and Namur,                                                                Which a nice little boy stood ready to catch                                                                    In a fine golden hand-basin made to match.                                                                      Two nice little boys, rather more grown,                                                                    Carried lavender-water, and eau de Cologne;                                                              And a nice little boy had a nice cake of soap,                                                                  Worthy of washing the hands of the Pope.                                                                                       One little boy more                                                                                                                 A napkin bore,                                                                                                            Of the best white diaper, fringed with pink,                                                                        And a Cardinal’s Hat marked in ‘permanent ink’.

The great Lord Cardinal turns at the sight                                                                        Of these nice little boys dressed all in white:                                                             From his finger he draws                                                                                                                      His costly turquoise;                                                                                                And, not thinking at all about little jackdaws,                                                                                    Deposits it straight                                                                                                                  By the side of his plate,                                                                                          While the nice little boys on his Eminence wait;                                                              Till, when nobody’s dreaming of any such thing,                                                              That little Jackdaw hops off with the ring!

There’s a cry and a shout ,                                                                                                      And a deuce of a rout,                                                                                                        And nobody seems to know what they’re about,                                                            But the Monks have their pockets all turned inside out.                                                                 The Friars are kneeling,                                                                                                            And hunting and feeling                                                                                        The carpet, the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling.                                                                       The Cardinal drew                                                                                                                   Off each plum-coloured shoe,                                                                             And left his red stockings exposed to the view;                                                                               He peeps and he feels                                                                                                           In the toes and the heels;                                                                                        They turn up the dishes, – they turn up the plates, –                                                        They take up the poker and poke out the grates,                                                                             They turn up the rugs,                                                                                                              Examine the mugs: –                                                                                                                But no! – no such thing; –                                                                                                        They can’t find THE RING!

The Cardinal rose with a dignified look,                                                                          He called for his candle, his, bell, and his book!                                                                                In holy anger, and pious grief                                                                                                He solemnly cursed that rascally thief!                                                                                He cursed him at board, he cursed him in bed;                                                                  From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head;                                                            He cursed him in sleeping, that every night                                                                        He should dream of the devil, and wake in a fright;                                                          He cursed him in eating, he cursed him drinking,                                                              He cursed him in coughing, in sneezing, in winking;                                                        He cursed him in sitting, in standing, in lying;                                                                    He cursed him in walking, in riding, in fling,                                                                        He cursed him in living, he cursed him in dying! –                                            Never was heard such a terrible curse!!                                                                                              But what gave rise                                                                                                                    To no little surprise                                                                                              Nobody seemed one penny the worse!                                                                                              The day was gone,                                                                                                                  The night came on                                                                                                  The Monks and Friars they searched till dawn;                                                                                 When the Sacristan saw,                                                                                                          On crumpled claw,                                                                                                  Coming liming a poor little lame Jackdaw!                                                                        His head was as bald as the palm of your hand;                                                                                His eye so dim,                                                                                                                          So wasted each limb,                                                                                          …they all cried ‘THAT’S HIM –                                                                                         That’s the thief that has got my Lord Cardinal’s Ring!’                                                                      The poor little Jackdaw                                                                                          Feebly gave vent to the ghost of a caw;                                                                            And turned his bald head, as much as to say,                                                            ‘Pray be so good as to walk this way!’                                                                                                 Slower and slower                                                                                                                   He limped on before,                                                                                                Till they came to the back of the belfry door,                                                                                   Where the first thing they saw,                                                                                             Midst the sticks and the straw,                                                                                Was the RING in the nest of that little Jackdaw!

Then the great Lord Cardinal called for his book,                                                              And off that terrible curse he took;                                                                                                       The mute expression                                                                                                               Served in lieu of confession,                                                                              And, being thus coupled with full restitution,                                                                  The Jackdaw got plenary absolution!                                                                                               – When these words were heard,                                                                                            That poor little bird                                                                                                 Was so changed in a moment, ’twas really absurd.                                                                         He grew sleek, and fat;                                                                                                           In addition to that,                                                                                                    A fresh crop of feathers came thick as a mat!                                                            While many remarked, as his manners they saw,                                                      That they ‘never had known such a pious Jackdaw.’                                                                         He long lived the pride                                                                                                           Of that country side,                                                                                                And at last in the odour of sanctity died;                                                                                             When, as words were too faint                                                                                             His merits to paint,                                                                                                 The Conclave determined to make him a Saint!


Words: 15th century English

Lullay, lullay my dear son,
Lullay, lullay my sweeting,
My own dear dearing.

I saw a maiden sitting and sing,
She lulled her child, a little lording.

This very Lord, he made all things,
And this very God, the King of all kings.

There was sweet music at this child’s birth,
And heaven filled with angels, making much mirth.

Heaven’s angels sang to welcome the child
Now born of a maid, all undefiled.

Pray we and sing on this festal day,
That peace may dwell with us alway.


Lyrics: Hilary Spiers

Wind skips along the pavement in the dying hours of night;
the waking city stirs itself, in milky morning light.
And dreams dissolve as sun breaks through,
and warms the tears I weep for you.

I watch the busy crowds as they hurry heedless by,
and scan each face that passes
for a shadow of your smile.
But all I see are empty eyes,
no trace of you beneath these skies.

I clutch your letters to my aching heart,
I learn each precious word you write.
For here is peace, and here is ease,
your words a whisper on the breeze.

So many miles apart, so many sleepless nights and tears.
So many dangers faced,
So many secret, hidden fears.
But my smile is always bright,
I save my sorrows for the night.

I clutch each letter like a drowning soul,
each line a testament to hope.
And here is peace, and here is ease,
Through winter’s chill to summer’s breeze.

I send my loving thought across the deserts and the seas.
I picture you beneath the stars
that both of us can see.
‘Til my return I count the days,
Rehearse that moment many ways.

We place the letters in a mem’ry box,
A ribbon serves as a lock.
Now here is peace, and here is ease,
Safe home at last we need no keys.


Another Island lyrics: Pam Lambert (1976)

Bow your head and close your eyes,
It’s time to realise you love me.
Let yourself be taken to the land beyond the waterfall
Where everything is spring, forever green and lovely.

Bow your head and go to sleep,
Dreams will keep you from reflecting,
Can you picture us together,
Hand in hand towards the land,
Where everything is spring, forever green and lovely.

Every day has meaning in the context of my life,
If I say what bothers my mind, if I try to think things out.
And today I’m dreaming of a place where we can be,
Where we can see a rainbow showing us tomorrow.

Bow your head don`t turn around,
Hold your thoughts of our tomorrow,
On another island we can live another way of life, Where everything is spring, forever green and lovely.

Every day has meaning …


A Choral Ode for SATB, baritone solo, organ and piano


We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.
To Thee all angels cry aloud, the heav’ns, and all the pow’rs therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!
Heav’n and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.

(Te Deum laudamus)

Baritone solo:
… And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth;

(William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) from ‘Tintern Abbey’)

The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee,
the Father of an infinite majesty.
Thine honourable , true, and only Son,
also the Holy Ghost, the comforter.

Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

(William Wordsworth: from ‘Ode – Intimations of Immortality)

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ,
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

You think it horrible that lust and rage
Should dance attention upon my old age:
They were not such a plague when I was young;
What else have I to spur me into song?

(W.B.Yeats (1865 – 1939) ‘The Spur’ from New Poems, 1938)

We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray Thee: help Thy servants,
Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up forever.

God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;

From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?

I pray – for fashion’s word is out
And prayer comes round again –
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

(W.B Yeats ‘A Prayer for Old Age’ from ‘A Full Moon in March’ (1935)

Chorus and baritone:
Day by day we magnify Thee; 
and we worship Thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us (have mercy upon us).