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I Wish to Tune my Quivering Lyre
Translated from Anacreon by Lord Byron.
Composed for, and sung by Mr. Santley
at the Gloucester Music Festival, 1868.
Published by Boosey & Co., 1868.


Karaoke File

Of this song and its performance at the 1868 Gloucester Musical Festival, The Times (September 12, 1868) wrote:

"In a strictly musical sense a still more interesting feature of the second part was a third new song by Mr. A. Sullivan – a setting of Byron’s translation from Anacreon (“I wish to tune my quivering lyre”), with orchestral accompaniments. This song is on a more ambitious scale than the others, which are in ballad form. Mr. Sullivan, however, has the requisite stuff in him to adopt any form with success, and he may fairly be complimented on his most recent vocal contribution to the concert-room. A more spirited composition of its order has not very recently appeared. The instrumentation, too, is masterly. The song was given by Mr. Santley con amore – with a warmth and enthusiasm, indeed, that declared how pleased he was to sing it. His enthusiasm was caught by the audience, and both the singer and the composer (who had conducted his own work) on retiring from the orchestra were called back amid unanimous applause."


Music cover
I wish to tune my quiv'ring lyre
To deeds of fame and notes of fire;
To echo from its rising swell
How heroes fought and nations fell,
How heroes fought and nations fell.
When Atreus' sons advanced to war,
Or Tyrian Cadmus rov'd afar:
When Atreus' sons advanced to war.
But still to martial strains unknown
My lyre recurs to love alone.
My lyre recurs to love alone.

Fired with the hope of future fame,
I seek some nobler hero's name;
The dying chords are strung anew,
To war, to war, to war, my harp is due.
With glowing strings, the epic strain
To Jove's great son I raise again;
With glowing strings, the epic strain
To Jove's great son I raise again;
Alcides and his glorious deeds,
Beneath whose arm the Hydra bleeds.
Alcides and his glorious deeds,
Beneath whose arm the Hydra bleeds.
All, all in vain my wayward lyre
Wakes silver notes of soft desire,
Wakes silver notes of soft desire.

Adieu! ye chiefs renown'd in arms!
Adieu! the clang of war's alarms!
To other deeds my soul is strung,
And sweeter notes shall now be sung.
Adieu! ye chiefs renown'd in arms!
Adieu! the clang of war's alarms!
To other deeds my soul is strung,
And sweeter notes shall now be sung.
My harp shall all its pow'rs reveal,
To tell the tale my heart must feel,
My harp shall all its pow'rs reveal,
To tell the tale,
To tell the tale my heart must feel.
Love, love alone, my lyre shall claim,
In songs of bliss and sighs of flame.
Love, love alone, my lyre shall claim,
In songs of bliss and sighs of flame.
Love, love alone.
Love, alone, my lyre shall claim,
In songs of bliss,
In songs of bliss and sighs of flame.
In songs of bliss and sighs, and sighs of flame.

Charles Santley
Santley

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