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A Quartet of Songs

Paul Archer's lyrics for this cycle of four songs take their inspiration from the lyrics of traditional folk songs in the same manner as a composer might arrange the melody of a folk song. No. 1 is in the long line of leaving songs such as ‘Santy Anno’ and ‘South Australia’ and it may well be the first song to be sung by the ship herself. No. 2 is a reworking of the words of the folk song ‘October Song’. No. 3 nods towards the traditional song ‘Black is the colour of my true love’s hair’ but completely rewrites the verses to end in a much darker place than the original. No. 4 is a loose adaption into English of the Portuguese song ‘Se essa rua fosse minha’.

The music for A Quartet of Songs was composed by Mike Watts as two duets (Nos 1 and 4) and two solos (Nos 2 and 3).

It was first performed on 2nd November 2013 at the Mike Watts 75th Anniversary Concert by Fiona Stuart-Wilson (soprano), Waltraud Mucher (mezzo soprano) and Suzanne Bradbury (piano).

1.

Oh my sails are up and the wind doth blow
And I’m sailing down the main.
With the sky above and the depths below
We’re seeking adventure again.

Away I go, away I go,
Across the ocean’s miles.
Away I go, away I go,
Through the enchanted isles.

Oh my bow doth heave and my rigging sings
And my cheek is splashed with spray.
I’ll bear my crew to whate’er luck brings
And won’t be back for many a day.

Away I go, away I go,
Across the ocean’s miles.
Away I go, away I go,
Through the enchanted isles.

2.

I’ll sing you my October song,
There is no other song than this.
Its words and tune are not my own
But all my aching sorrow is.

Beside the sea the bramble grows,
Its thorns are sharp and bare.
From the sea the salt wind blows,
Still it stands and prospers there.

The forest leaves a-jewel the ground,
They’ve learnt the art of dying.
Their scarlet hearts are strewn around,
In sunlight and shadows lying.

So I’ll sing this October song,
There is no song other than this,
For in the cold it won’t be long
Ere this song is gone from my lips.

3.

Brown is the colour of my true love’s hair.
He lost his heart and he knows not where.
His handsome face is all pale and wan,
He lowers his head and all his laughter’s gone.

I left in the spring when the leaves were green
To marry a man that I’d never seen.
But the man had money, my parents had none,
And I was caught inside the web he spun.

Now I’m living in a palace of gold,
It glitters so bright but is bare and cold.
Brown is the colour of my true love’s hair,
Black is the colour of my heart’s despair.

4.

If this street, if this street were mine,
I would pave it with pebble stones,
With pebble stones made of diamonds,
Only for my, only for my love to walk by.

If I stole, if I stole your heart,
Then this is the least I can do:

Show you the loving ways I’ll find
Of taking care, taking care of your heart for you.

If this grove, if this grove were mine,
I’d build a bower with grapes on the vine
Where a stream reflects the moonshine,
Only for my, only for my love to sleep by.

If I stole, if I stole your heart,
Then this is the least I can do:

Show you the loving ways I’ll find
Of taking care, taking care of your heart for you.

If this sea, if this sea were mine,
I’d make pearls of the minutes of time
And send the waves softly onto sand,
Only for my, only for my love to dream by.

 Lyrics
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