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He often would ask us That, when he died, After playing so many To their last rest, If out of us any Should here abide, And it would not task us, We would with our lutes Play over him By his grave-brim The psalm he liked best - The one whose sense suits "Mount Ephraim" - And perhaps we should seem To him, in Death's dream, Like the seraphim. As soon as I knew That his spirit was gone I thought this his due, And spoke thereupon. "I think," said the vicar, "A read service quicker Than viols out-of-doors In these frosts and hoars. That old-fashioned way Requires a fine day, And it seems to me It had better not be." Hence, that afternoon, Though never knew he That his wish could not be, To get through it faster They buried the master Without any tune. But 'twas said that, when At the dead of next night The vicar looked out, There struck on his ken Thronged roundabout, Where the frost was graying The headstoned grass, A band all in white Like the saints in church-glass, Singing and playing The ancient stave By the choirmaster's grave. Such the tenor man told When he had grown old.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "The Choirmaster's Burial", appears in Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses, first published 1917 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976), "The choirmaster's burial", op. 52 no. 5 (1953), published 1954 [ high voice, piano ], from Winter words, no. 5 [sung text checked 1 time]
Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- FRE French (Français) (Christopher Park) , "L'enterrement du maître de chœur", copyright © 2022, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , David Arkell [Guest Editor]
This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 48
Word count: 206