Scored for: A cappella SSAATTBB
Duration: 6 mins
Other Info: Before Action is an a cappella setting for SSAATTBB which was commissioned and premiered by the BBC Singers in 2006. The poem Before Action was written while William Noel Hodgson's unit moved up to the front in the final days before the commencement of The Battle of The Somme in July 1916. The final lines of this poem 'Help me to die O Lord' are particularly poignant as Noel Hodgson was killed on the first morning of the battle.
Before Action, was premiered on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 16 November 2006 as part of BBC Radio 3's Wilfred Owen season. The programme, A Farewell to Arms, introduced music and readings connected with war and reconciliation and included music by Maurice Ravel and Ivor Gurney from the period of the First World War, Richard Rodney Bennett's A Farewell to Arms and new BBC Radio 3 commissions by Will Todd and Paul Ayres.
By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of all man's hopes and fears
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; -
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.
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Music is available as a hard copy or a downloadable PDF with a license to make a single copy.
Vocal Score ISMN 9790570701674, Catalogue number TP701674