The Water King (John Wall Callcott)

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  • (Posted 2008-06-06)  CPDL #17095:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Jonathan Goodliffe (submitted 2008-06-06).   Score information: A4, 11 pages, 101 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: The original score from which this edition is derived (published by William Horsley after the composer's death) uses a text of Lewis' poem which slightly departs from the original at a number of points. The reasons for this seem to have been non-musical. Examples include "and dressed him" for "she formed him" in bar 22 and "full oft" for "three times" in bar 175. In bar 135 "for God’s sake" was changed to "for heav'n's sake", which may have been more "respectable" in the 1820s. The text of Lewis' original has been restored in this edition. A change in tempo seems to be intended at bar 142 – this edition suggests a return to the first time.

General Information

Title: The Water King
Composer: John Wall Callcott
Lyricist: Matthew Lewiscreate page

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicings: SSB or TTB
Genre: SecularGlee

Language: English
Instruments: a cappella (A piano accompaniment was added by William Horsley)

First published:
Description: Callcott only set 10 of the 20 stanzas of Lewis' poem to music. This leaves a few obvious gaps in the "story". He may possibly have intended that some of the other stanzas be sung by way of repeats.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text



By Matthew Lewis (1775-1818) a poem
within his gothic novel "The Monk"

[With gentle murmur flowed the Tide,
While by the fragrant flowery side
The lovely Maid with carols gay
To Mary's Church pursued her way.

The Water-Fiend's malignant eye
Along the Banks beheld her hie;
Straight to his Mother-witch He sped,
And thus in suppliant accents said:]

'Oh! Mother! Mother! now advise,
How I may yonder Maid surprize:
Oh! Mother! Mother! Now explain,
How I may yonder Maid obtain.'

The Witch She gave him armour white;
She formed him like a gallant Knight;
Of water clear next made her hand
A Steed, whose housings were of sand.

The Water-King then swift He went;
To Mary's Church his steps He bent:
He bound his Courser to the Door,
And paced the Church-yard three times four.

[His Courser to the door bound He,
And paced the Church-yard four time three:
Then hastened up the Aisle, where all
The People flocked, both great and small.]

The Priest said, as the Knight drew near,
'And wherefore comes the white Chief here?'
The lovely Maid She smiled aside;
'Oh! would I were the white Chief's Bride!'

[He stept o'er Benches one and two;
'Oh! lovely Maid, I die for You!'
He stept o'er Benches two and three;
'Oh! lovely Maiden, go with me!'

Then sweet She smiled, the lovely Maid,
And while She gave her hand, She said,
'Betide me joy, betide me woe,
O'er Hill, o'er dale, with thee I go.'

The Priest their hands together joins:
They dance, while clear the moon-beam shines;
And little thinks the Maiden bright,
Her Partner is the Water-spright.]

Oh! had some spirit deigned to sing,
'Your Partner is the Water-King!'
The Maid had fear and hate confest,
And cursed the hand which then She prest.

But nothing giving cause to think,
How near She strayed to danger's brink,
Still on She went, and hand in hand
The Lovers reached the yellow sand.

'Ascend this Steed with me, my Dear;
We needs must cross the streamlet here;
Ride boldly in; It is not deep;
The winds are hushed, the billows sleep.'

[Thus spoke the Water-King. The Maid
Her Traitor-Bride-groom's wish obeyed:
And soon She saw the Courser lave
Delighted in his parent wave.]

'Stop! Stop! my Love! The waters blue
E'en now my shrinking foot bedew!'
'Oh! lay aside your fears, sweet Heart!
We now have reached the deepest part.'

['Stop! Stop! my Love! For now I see
The waters rise above my knee.'
'Oh! lay aside your fears, sweet Heart!
We now have reached the deepest part.']

'Stop! Stop! for God's sake, stop! For Oh!
The waters o'er my bosom flow!'
Scarce was the word pronounced, when Knight
And Courser vanished from her sight.

She shrieks, but shrieks in vain; for high
The wild winds rising dull the cry;
The Fiend exults; The Billows dash,
And o'er their hapless Victim wash.

Three times while struggling with the stream,
The lovely Maid was heard to scream;
But when the Tempest's rage was o'er,
The lovely Maid was seen no more.

[Warned by this Tale, ye Damsels fair,
To whom you give your love beware!
Believe not every handsome Knight,
And dance not with the Water-Spright!]

Note: stanzas not set to the music are enclosed in brackets.