In Memoriam (Words and Music S Overington 2018)

This article was written for the November 2021 issue of our parish magazine.

November is a time for remembering, and this year there is a heightened poignancy to our memories of friends and family we have lost. In September we had a memorial service for those in our parish that had died during the pandemic, and who we had not been able to mourn properly at their funerals. It was a deeply emotional service. November brings All Souls Day (this year marked on 31 October), All Saints Day (also celebrated on 31 October this year) and of course Remembrance Day (11 November), and the service of remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, 14 November.

“In Memoriam” is a hauntingly simple song about time and loss. I discovered it after a Sing for Pleasure conducting weekend late in 2018, during which my set piece was “I Believe”, also by Stuart Overington, and written about elsewhere in the parish blog. Both pieces are in the publication “Build a Bridge” – a collection of Stuart’s songs – and that is where I found “In Memoriam”.

Written in the voice of the deceased, the first verse describes the cycle of time through the day, and the second verse references Shakespeare’s analogy of seasons of the year for phases of our lifetime. In the chorus, the lost person clearly states that for him, time has stopped; but for those left behind, time continues into the dawns of new days, and we should remember our loved ones with joy.

The third verse is, I think, a call to value life while we have it, to live each day with love and build memories for when we – or others – pass away.

The birds in the sky have stopped singing their song.

The breezes blow cool in the twilight.

As day turns to night I sit and watch the fading light

‘Til it’s gone, gone away.

The blossoms of spring have long passed in my life

So too the long days of summer

As autumn draws nigh soon will winter be in prime

And I’ll be gone, gone away.

So as you go into tomorrow

Let the sunrise bring a new morning.

Think on my joy, forget my sorrow

When I’m gone, gone away.

Let all who have life see the blessings they own

And live out each day to the fullest

Though seasons must pass still the memories may last

When you’re gone, gone away.

So as you go into tomorrow

Let the sunrise bring a new morning.

Think on my joy, forget my sorrow

When I’m gone, gone away.

This song is written to be sung by an unaccompanied choir of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, with the first verse sung by a solo soprano or baritone voice. In the autumn of 2020 we were of course in various stages of tiered systems of lockdown, so our pianist Tom H and I harnessed the power of technology to produce a 4-part ensemble whilst adhering to the regulations in place at the time. This recording was used in the online All Souls service for 2020.

This year our organist and pianist Tom D has agreed to sing bass. I will sing the tenor part, and as I write, the ladies of Maggie’s Music Makers are learning the alto and soprano parts. If all goes well, by the time you read this article you will have heard Maggie’s Music Makers sing this beautiful song live in church, in full 4-part harmony at this year’s All Souls service, and I hope this article helps with your memories and remembering.

Carol P

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