King Witlaf's drinking horn (John Liptrot Hatton)
- Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2019-10-07). Score information: A4, 9 pages, 148 kB Copyright: CPDL
- Edition notes:
Title: King Witlaf's drinking horn
Composer: John Liptrot Hatton
Lyricist: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Number of voices: 4vv Voicing: ATTB
Genre: Secular, Partsong
First published: 1874 in Novello's Part-Song Book (2nd series), Vol. 7, no. 227
Original text and translations
1 Witlaf, a King of the Saxons,
Ere yet his last he breathed,
To the merry monks of Croyland
His drinking horn bequeathed,
That, whenever they sat at their revels,
And drank from the golden bowl,
They might remember the donor,
And breathe a prayer for his soul.
So sat they once at Christmas,
And bade the goblet pass;
In their beards the red wine glistened
Like dewdrops in the grass.
2 They drank to the saints and martyrs,
Of the dismal days of yore,
And as soon as the horn was empty,
They remembered one saint more,
And the reader droned from the pulpit,
Like the murmur of many bees,
The legend of good Saint Guthlac,
And Saint Basil's homilies,
Till the great bells of the Convent
From their prison in the tower.
Guthlac and Bartholomaeus
Proclaimed the midnight hour.
3 And the yule-log cracked in the chimney,
And the Abbot bowed his head,
And the flamelets flapped and flickered,
But the Abbot was stark and dead;
Yet still in his pallid fingers
He clutched the golden bowl,
In which, like a pearl dissolving,
Had sunk and dissolved his soul.
But not for this their revels
The jovial monks forbore;
For they cried, "Fill high the goblet!
We must drink to one saint more."