• Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Chorus: SATB with semi-chorus of trebles
  • Instrumentation: Piano OR Small string orchestra
  • Published by: Hawes Music

The Land was written for the South Holland Choral Project in Lincolnshire and was commissioned by the South Holland District Council to celebrate the changing seasons in that area.  It was first performed at St Mary Magdalene Church, Gedney on April 29th, 1995.

Whilst the four-part choir relates the original poetry, the semi-chorus provides the folk melodies.  For much of the work they exist as separate units but there are occasions when they come together.  The string orchestra also serves to compliment the two choral groups and provide the opportunity for rich textures and antiphonal effects.  The only ‘season’ which is independent of the semi-chorus is Winter.  This is very much an introduction to the succeeding movements which, with their folk-song flavour, rely heavily on dance rhythms and a typically ‘English’ harmonic style.

The celebration of beauty was one of the main elements of writing the poems.  The landscape, once dubbed ‘the factory floor of England’ is unique with wide and deep skies, tantalising skylines; patterns of colours on a panoramic scale.  Except for Winter, the poems are in strophic form, bound to the metre of the folk song which is the musical base to each movement.  In Summer, a liberty is taken in the creation of a new text for the refrain of ‘Bring Fair’.

The work is dedicated to the memory of Liz Busby, Patrick’s friend, who was tragically killed at the time the work was being composed.

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Orchestral Parts available on hire Email: andyberry@hawesmusic.com Tel: +44 (0)7879 645 621

I. Winter

like snow
lie thick on Drove End Marsh.
The leaden
fill-dyke sky
makes Gedney’s church tower

There is no winter
though peat-black soil
and silt still sleep.
In villages of glass
the sun caresses
growth of green
on slender goose-necked

There is no winter
though empty, silent days
pass by.
Each hand,
Each eye,
Each mind,
Each heart
for the ever-dawning

There is no winter
but only growing.
This land defies
the dark.
Three seasons only:
every day
a harvest.

II. Spring

As I woke one May morning, one May morning so early,
I overtook a pretty fair maid just as the sun was dawning.
With my rue rum ray, fother diddle ay, wok fol air did-dle ido!

 Sharp spinning steel renews the ground.
The harrow runs to the seagulls’ sound.
The dark clouds part for the waxing sun.
The land is alive – a new season’s begun.

In soft deep silt, fresh patterns weave
the ridge and furrow of potato fields.
Winter wheat deepens to rich shining greens
and moves to the touch of a warming breeze.

The spring showers wash the brightening sky.
Vans and lorries on muddy lanes fly.
The skyline is dinted by machines and men;
their lights crawl late on marsh and fen.

These are the days when the best work is done.
When land is fit and machine’s on song.
These are the hours that must not be missed;
when the earth and the weather for a brief moment kiss.

When the gates are shut and the tools washed down,
there is a silent growing in the dark moist ground,
till hour by hour in the fields spreads a blaze,
with the crackling of colour that is louder each day.

See rich gold of daffodils by Moulton’s tall spire!
See pink of the pipe flowers where marshes spread far!
See rainbow of colours where bulb fields burst!
See brightest of rape from the blackest of earth!

When Holbeach and Whaplode towers Easter peels ring,
The land with its own resurrection hymn sings!
Through fields and through church yards, from altar to pew,
teems a torrent of colour the whole county through!

III. Summer

There is beauty in each season,
There is beauty in each sky,
There is beauty as the land unfolds
all colours to the eye.

In winter there is waiting.
In spring there is new hope.
And autumn sings thanksgiving
for all that summer’s wrought.
Yet only in the summer
the sky lark rises high,
and fills the fields with song
from a brilliant, cloudless sky.

Long lanes stretch far-shimmering –
By the dry brown dykes;
poplar avenues stand crowned
by crystal clear sunlight.
There is a gentle murmuring
Among the fruiting gangs.
Where they stack the trays for market,
A rich, sweet fragrance hangs.

The corn is white perfection
and ripples like the sea;
through it ploughs the combine
showering plumes of dust like spray.
The blades beat out a rhythm,
the well-tuned engine hums;
man, land machine in harmony,
a new harvest has begun.

Through villages and hamlets
the corn carts rumble by;
the procession keeps on moving –
while the night sky in dry.
And in the sheds the driers
give out a mighty roar
as the mountains of pure gold
climb higher from the floor.

There is a summer landscape
where a tractor’s seldom seen,
where the air is stung with salt
and silt mingles with the sea.
Here the samphire yields its harvest,
and the mullet swims each tide,
and villages of seals meet
on sun-warmed sand to dry.

IV. Autumn
(incorporating the traditional English folksong, The Lincolnshire Poacher)


When I was bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire,
Full well I served my master for more than seven year,
Till I took up to poaching, as you will quickly hear;
Oh, ‘tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year!

Delight! Delight!
The land delights!
Sky is bright
with harvest moon.

Delight! Delight!
The land delights!
Joyful shouts bring
harvest home.

Delight! Delight!
Each farm delights!
Orchard boughs
hang heavy now.

Delight! Delight!
Each farm delights!
Land turns dark
behind the plough.

Delight! Delight!
Machines delight!
Empty earth eats
this year’s seed.

Delight! Delight!
Machines delight!
Turning steel meets
hunger’s need.


As me an’ my companion were setting off a snare,
‘Twas then we spied the game keeper, for him we did not care,
For we can wrestle and fight, my boys, and jump out anywhere,
Oh, ‘tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year!

As me an’ my companion were setting four or five,
And, taking on ‘en up again, we caught a hare alive,
We took the hare alive, my boys, and though the woods did steer;
Oh, ‘tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year!

Delight! Delight!
Daylight delights!
Church fills up
with apples’ smell.

Delight! Delight!
Daylight delights!
Harvest hymns
God’s goodness tell.

Delight! Delight!
The moon delights!
Settling earth
its rest begins.

Delight! Delight!
The moon delights!
Fields grow quiet
as night draws in.


I threw him on my shoulder and we trudged home,
We took him to a neighbour’s house and sold him for a crown,
We sold him for a crown, my boys, but I did not tell you where;
Oh, ‘tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year!

Delight! Delight!
Our hearts delights!
Dance sounds rise
from village hall.

Delight! Delight!
Our hearts delights!
Priest says grace
for groaning board.

Success to every gentleman who lives in Lincolnshire,
Success to every poacher who wants to sell a hare,
Bad luck to every game keeper that will not sell his deer;
Oh, ‘tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year!

Delight! Delight!
The land delights!
All is safely
gathered in.

Delight! Delight!
The land delights!
The earth is in its
fullness crowned.

Words: Andrew Hawes (1954 –   )