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November 11th 2020 - The Centenary of the Unknown Warrior

On the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, we offer you part of our concert, Sing Us Your Dreams.  This was a meditation on WW1 and its aftermath in music, images and local stories, which was performed in 2015 - at Earlsdon Methodist Church, Lancaster Priory, St Barbara’s Church Earlsdon and The Chapel, Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire.


This is a recording of The Unknown Warrior, sung by Spires' sopranos and altos with soloists Abigail Rhodes, Leslie Blezard, Penny Turnbull and Janis Raishbrook and piano accordion accompanist Hilary Minns.  It commemorates the cortège’s long and moving journey from France and the burial of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey, November 11th 1920. The music was composed by Mike Torbe and the poet is Avril Newey.  


Here is the recording:

https://u.pcloud.link/publink/show?code=XZMjDzXZ2qKS3LyegBXUHIy7zeyb2QYs4SyX


To listen, copy and paste the link into your internet browser and then click on “download” - you don’t need P Cloud.


The text, adapted from Avril Newey’s poem, is below.


THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR

For four and ninety years you've lain

beneath the Abbey's pious floor

as monarchs gave you deference, bowed,

the world's folk streamed in through the door.

So, were you born in deer-parked hall,

on cobbled street, to workhouse shame,

Did field, fen, fell, sliced slate, brick, stone

carve out your shape, give you your name?

Lest we forget! Remember then,

they laid you down to muffled drums.

A blackbird trilled on Runnymede,

a million mothers wept for their sons.


What gusts blew down your child-lit path

pushing and pitching you to this end,

Did you shrink the clout of a father's hand,

how many fellows called you friend?

Did you march, head high, from north or south,

from east or west to face your fate?

What town or village, hamlet, farm

hung out its flags, left wide its gates?

Lest we forget! the simplest then,

they laid you down to muffled drums.

A blackbird trilled on Runnymede,

a million mothers shrouded their sons.


You chased adventure, fought and earned

ten thousand times your shilling pay,

embraced the truest brotherhood,

woke from each night to dreadful day;

and burrowed deep in clod-hung filth,

with pencil and a Cambrai postcard

you wrote to your Spring-blossomed girl,

saying you loved her, found it hard

without her voice, her nest of hair,

those secret walks when, smile to smile,

you hid in snickets, bee-hung grass

and plotted lives stretched mile on mile.


So long ago now, in twilight seen

on flickering film in pixels' gaze

your flat-capped world, an enigma now,

those truths you died for crumbling, mazed.

Lest we forget! the simplest then,

they laid you down to muffled drums.

A blackbird trilled on Runnymede,

a million mothers buried their sons.


Avril Newey



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