Do Not Stand by My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of far-off birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in every flower that blooms,
I am in still and empty rooms.
I am the child that yearns to sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there – I did not die.

[Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-) modified by Howard Goodall]

“Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” is a poem written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye.  It was beautifully set to music by Howard Goodall as part of his Requiem: Eternal Light.

“Do not stand” forms the Lacrymosa.  There is a reasonable performance on Youtube but you really need to listen to the original  recording by the Christ Church Cathedral Choir (Oxford).  You can hear this version (or at least the Lacrymosa) on Spotify.

You can buy the original recording an Amazon:

I do love the music and was lucky enough to perform it for Howard Goodall recently, as part of a small choir. He was kind enough to express enthusiasm for the performance but then he is probably just very polite. I am sure he says the same to everyone who performs his works, however badly.

Goodall is an excellent presenter and has recorded some wonderful programs on music,which are well worth listening too.

He has composed much music for films and television.

If I were to have any adverse comments at all on Eternal Light, it does perhaps come across as slightly “commercial”, slightly “popular” in the  Lloyd Webber sense.

Nonetheless it is beautiful music and wonderful to sing.  The peoems he sets to music are superb.

My favourite is the poem he uses for his Dies Irae:

Dies irae, dies illa.
Calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.
That day, the day of wrath, calamity and wretchedness
That great and bitter day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

[John McCrae 1872-1918]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s