“Carefree highway, you seen better days”*

Today is the birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams, (1872 – 1958) English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years.

(Statue of Vaughan Williams by William Fawke, Dorking)

Vaughan Williams’s Anglican church music includes anthems; choral-orchestral works, such as Magnificat (1932), Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), and Hodie (1953); and hymn tune settings for organ. And, of course, he was music editor of the most influential British hymnal at the beginning of the twentieth century, The English Hymnal (1906), and coeditor (with Martin Shaw) of Songs of Praise (1925, 1931) and the Oxford Book of Carols (1928). He also worked intermittently on a musical treatment of John Bunyan’s allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, for forty-five years, and the 1951 “Morality” was the final result.

But you are probably more likely to be acquainted with a Fantasia on Greensleeves

…which makes me think of our May Day program of yesteryear…

…when the senior class danced around the maypole, braiding the ribbons to the harmonious music of Vaughan Williams. (I look so serious–I must have been concentrating on not stepping on anyone’s dress.)

This backward glance in turn reminds me that the wee laddie told me on Sunday that I was “really old” while we were digging in an ant hill. A couple of weeks ago he had asked me why I had white hair and I told him it was because I am old. I guess he is trying to figure out what that means. And, indeed, it is a weird concept. Sigh. Probably he was just trying to compliment me, right?

Happily, I can still be as immature as the next person. This probably explains my current obsession with watching episodes of Brooklyn 99 on Hulu.

Anyway, that is how my brain (still) works. So let’s not forget to toast Ralph Vaughan Williams tonight! And while we’re at it, blow some bubbles…

*Gordon Lightfoot