Songs of the English

Song Cycle by Rutland Boughton (1878 - 1960)

Word count: 941

1. Fair is our lot [sung text checked 1 time]

Fair is our lot -- O goodly is our heritage! 
(Humble ye, my people, and be fearful in your mirth!)
  For the Lord our God Most High
  He hath made the deep as dry,
He hath smote for us a pathway to the ends of all the Earth!

Yea, though we sinned -- and our rulers went from righteousness --
Deep in all dishonour tho' we stained our garments' hem.
  Oh be ye not dismayed,
  Though we stumbled and we strayed,
We were led by evil counsellors -- the Lord shall deal with them!

Hold ye the Faith -- the Faith our Fathers sealèd us;
Whoring not with visions -- overwise and overstale.
  Except ye pay the Lord
  Single heart and single sword,
Of their children in their bondage shall He ask them treble-tale!

Keep ye the Law -- be swift in all obedience --
Clear the land of evil, drive the road and bridge the ford.
  Make ye sure to each his own
  That he reap where he hath sown;
By the peace among Our peoples let men know we serve the Lord!
let men know we serve the Lord!

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The coastwise lights  [sung text checked 1 time]

Our brows are bound with spindrift and the weed is on our knees;
Our loins are battered 'neath us by the swinging, smoking seas.
From rock and reef and skerry -- over headland, ness, and voe --
The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!

Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors;
Thro' the yelling Channel tempest when the siren hoots and roars --
By day the dipping house-flag, by night the rocket's trail. --
As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.

We bridge across the dark, and bid the helmsman have a care,
The flash that wheeling inward wakes his sleeping wife to prayer;
From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains
The lover from the sea-rim drawn -- his love in English lanes.

Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates;
Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights!
Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek,
The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak!

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The Price of the Admiralty [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]

II
We have fed our sea for a thousand years
And she calls us, still unfed,
Though there's never a wave of all her waves
But marks our English dead:
We have strawed our best to the weed's unrest,
To the shark and the sheering gull.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' paid in full!

There's never a flood goes shoreward now
But lifts a keel we manned;
There's never an ebb goes seaward now
But drops our dead on the sand --
But slinks our dead on the sands forlore,
From the Ducies to the Swin.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' paid it in!

We must feed our sea for a thousand years,
For that is our doom and pride,
As it was when they sailed with the Golden Hind,
Or the wreck that struck last tide --
Or the wreck that lies on the spouting reef
Where the ghastly blue-lights flare.
If blood be tbe price of admiralty,
If blood be tbe price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' bought it fair!

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View original text (without footnotes)
First published in English Illustrated Magazine, May 1893
1 omitted by Ives.
2 Ives: "In"
3 Ives: "snow"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]