Joy of Living
a cappella SATB – words Ewan MacColl, traditional Sicilian tune – arr. Peter Amidon
In the Amidons’ book & CD ‘Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir‘. Sung here by the Hallowell hospice singers. Scottish folksinger Ewan MacColl (hosband to “love Call Me Home” composer Peggy Seeger) wrote this towards the end of his life as a farewell to his loved ones and his mountains. We recorded only the first two verses; all four verses are on the sheet music and below. Here is the song sung by Ewan MacColl, with his wife Peggy Seeger on harmony.
Joy of Living
by Ewan MacColl
Farewell, you northern hills, you mountains all goodbye,
Moorlands and stony ridges, crags and peaks, goodbye,
Glyder Fach farewell, cold big Scafell, cloud-bearing Suilven,
Sun-warmed rocks and the cold of Bleaklow’s frozen sea,
The snow and the wind and the rain of hills and mountains,
Days in the sun and the tempered wind and the air like wine
And you drink and you drink till you’re drunk on the joy of living.
Farewell to you, my love, my time is almost done,
Lie in my arms once more until the darkness comes.
You filled all my days, held the night at bay, dearest companion.
Years pass by and they’re gone with the speed of birds in flight
Our lives like the verse of a song heard in the mountains.
Give me your hand and love and join your voice with mine,
And we’ll sing of the hurt and the pain and the joy of living.
Farewell to you, my chicks, soon you must fly alone;
Flesh of my flesh, my future life, bone of my bone.
May your wings be strong may your days be long.
Safe be your journey.
Each of you bears inside of you the gift of love,
May it bring you light and warmth and the pleasure of giving.
Eagerly savour each new day and the taste of its mouth
Never lose sight of the thrill and the joy of living.
Take me to some high place of heather, rock and ling,
Scatter my dust and ashes, feed me to the wind,
So that I may be part of all you see, the air you are breathing.
I’ll be part of the curlew’s cry and the soaring hawk,
The blue milkwort and the sundew hung with diamonds,
I’ll be riding the gentle breeze as it blows through your hair
Reminding you how we shared in the joy of living.