My Boy Jack

This poignant song was written in an equally sombre atmosphere: that of the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. I wrote it for the tenor Alex White, and is a setting of the Rudyard Kipling Poem "My Boy Jack".


Although the poem itself was commissioned to commemorate the Battle of Jutland and the memory of Jack Cornwell (a sixteen year old sailor who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery), a lot of personal grief went into the work's creation. Kipling had, of course, lost his own son John, who was killed in the Battle of Loos in 1915.


To paraphrase Wilfred Owen, my subject is the pity of war. Thus, this setting is quite dark. It also references another casualty of the war: the composer George Butterworth, who also has no known grave. I reference a melody from his "A Shropshire Lad" at the beginning and end of the song to give the music a sense of place, and also to bring to mind the crushing trauma and loss that was felt throughout the world after a war.


Duration: Circa 4 Minutes

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High Voice

Medium Voice

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Low Voice