A work in progress. A well-known poem of 1889 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. A ‘moaning’ noise is characteristic of a harbour sandbar when the tide is low and the water may too turbulent for a boat to put out to sea across it in safety. Kingsley’s ‘Three Fishers’ – set to music by John Hullah as recorded by Joan Baez and many others – uses the image of the moaning of the harbour shoal to represent danger. Tennyson’s poem uses it as the starting point for describing the final passing from life into death. It’s reported that before his death three years later he asked his son Hallam to have the poem placed at the end of all future editions of his verse.
Since then, the poem has been a popular choice for funerals, whether as a reading or in a musical setting such as the one by Sir Hubert Parry, the choral setting by Ian Assersohn, or the very popular folkier tune by Rani Arbo. In fact, I read it at my own mother’s funeral in 2018, but always felt that I wanted to set it to music myself for an ongoing project. This is the second draft of my setting, and it’s sounding nearer to what I wanted.