Blow, Blow, thou Winter Wind

Blow, blow, thou winter wind. This poem, from Act II Scene 7 of Shakespeare's As You Like it, is a very popular setting for musical compositions. Stephen Chatman's version premiered in 1992, but was first published in 1995. Written for mixed voice chorus and piano, it was commissioned by the Choral Music Association of Calgary for the Mount Royal Youth Choir. Harry Freedman's work for unaccompanied choir was composed in 1974, commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts. Alfred Kunz wrote his version in 1981 for mixed chorus.

The Canadian composers above are in good company, as many others world wide have set this Shakespeare text, among them: John Rutter (born 1945); Emma Lou Diemer (born 1927); Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), composer of "I Was Glad," the bride's processional for the 2011 royal wedding of Kate and William; Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957); and the American Horatio Parker (1863-1919) - who should not be confused with the Canadian author/journalist Sir Horatio Gilbert George Parker (1862-1932).

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:

Most friendship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,

That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

See also Winter.