My Beloved Spake       Patrick Hadley

My beloved spake, and said unto me,

‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over

and gone; the flowers appear on the earth;

the time of the singing of birds is come,

and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

the fig tree putteth forth her green figs

and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.'

Song of Solomon, Ch 10, vv 10-13

This is an extravagant little miniature, setting beautiful words from the Song of Solomon. Little known, it is full of rich harmony, and a natural ebb and flow of musical tension is present from bar 1 to the very end. A brief a cappella section in the middle gives way to a reprise of the strong and sensual opening harmonic progression before the music subsides into a calm and delicious progression of final cadences, teasing the listener as to when the very end is actually going to arrive. Textually, it has been argued that the piece uses a sequence of connected metaphors linking the physical and seasonal spring time with spiritual and sacred re-birth in a subtle way: ‘The winter is past…’ etc., to mean the end of spiritual troubles arising from the guilt of original sin; ‘the flowers appear on the earth….’ etc., to represent the appearance of God’s grace and his many gifts of creation to us; and the ‘good smell of the grapes’ being the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The piece is particularly suitable for use at a wedding, or as an anthem during springtime or at Pentecost.

Patrick Hadley was a scholar at Winchester College before studying music at Pembroke College, Cambridge and the RCM. Here he studied composition with Vaughan Williams (who fired him with a love of English folk song) and conducting with Adrian Boult and Malcolm Sargent. His education was interrupted by the First World War, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. During the final weeks of the war, he suffered an injury which resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee. After graduating, he joined the teaching staff of the RCM in 1925 and also took a fellowship at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. During the Second World War he deputised for Boris Ord, Organist and Master of Music at King’s College, who was called up for military service, and in 1946, on Ord’s return, Hadley was elected to the Chair of Music at Cambridge, from which he retired in 1962. He had a broad appreciation of different musical styles; he formed the Cambridge University Gilbert and Sullivan Society, which is still going strong today and, along with Thomas Beecham, he also championed the works of Delius. There is much evidence of Delius’ style in his own music, particularly in his harmonic language. Hadley was more prominent as a teacher of composition than as a composer, but his output, although small, contains a number of gems. He retired to Norfolk where he set about continuing Vaughan Willams’ work in collecting and preserving British folk song. This work was cut short when he contracted throat cancer in 1972.