Tuesday, 29 July 2014

For the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War: George Butterworth - 'The lads in their hundreds..'

As we mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War over the next few days, this is George Butterworth's setting of A. E. Housman's 'The Lads in their Hundreds' from 'A Shropshire Lad,' a song given added poignancy as Butterworth himself was one of those who would 'die in their glory and never be old.'
It is sung here by Roderick Williams, baritone, with Ian Burnside, piano.

The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan;
And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.

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