Soft and safe though lowly grave (John Wall Callcott)

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  • (Posted 2008-04-19)  CPDL #16695:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Jonathan Goodliffe (submitted 2008-04-19).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 86 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Soft and safe though lowly grave
Composer: John Wall Callcott

Number of voices: 6vv   Voicing: SSATBB
Genre: SecularGlee

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella (originally). Piano accompaniment added by William Horsley (1774-1858).

First published:
Description: A 6 part glee

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

From "Julia", an anonymous poem included by Thomas Evans in his "Old ballads, historical and narrative", published 1810.

[To the graves where sleep the dead,
Hapless Julia took her way;
Sighs to heave, and tears to shed
O’er the spot where Damon lay,
Many a blooming flower she bore,
O’er the green grass turf to throw
And while fast her tears did pour,
Thus she sang to soothe her woe.]

Soft and safe, though lowly, grave,
Fast o'er thee my tears shall flow,
Only hope the hapless have,
Only refuge left for woe.
Constant love and grief sincere,
Shall thy hallowed turf pervade,
And many a heartfelt sigh and tear,
Hapless youth shall soothe thy shade.

Lighted by the moon's pale shine,
See me to thy mem’ry true;
Lowly bending at thy shrine,
Many a votive flow'r to strew.
But how little do these flow'rs,
Prove my love and constancy!
Yet a few sad fleeting hours,
And dear youth I'll follow thee.

[Rose replete with scent and hue,
Sweetest flow’r that nature blows,
Damon flourished once like you;
Now o’er him the green grass grows,
Rose, go deck his hallowed grave,
Lily, o’er the green turf twine;
Honour meet that turf should have,
Beauty’s bed, and virtue’s shrine.

Primrose pale, and violet blue,
Jasmine sweet, and eglantine,
Nightly here thy sweets I strew,
Proud to deck my true love’s shrine.
Like you my Damon bloomed a day,
He did die and so must you,
But such charms can you display,
Half so virtuous, half so true?]

No sweet flow'rets, no such charms,
No such virtues can You boast;
Yet he's torn from my fond arms,
Yet my faithful love is crossed!
But a radiant morn shall rise,
(Loit'ring moments faster flow,)
Till with Him I tread the skies,
Smile at death and laugh at woe.”

[Thus she sung and strewed the flow’r,
Beat her breast, and wept, and sighed;
And, when toll’d the midnight hour,
On the green turf grave she died.
Many a nightingale forlorn,
Sung her knell, while breezes sighed:
Haughty grandeur heard with scorn,
How so poor a maiden died.]

Note: Bracketed text not part of the musical setting