Forty Years On (song)

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"Forty Years On" is a song written by Edward Ernest Bowen and John Farmer in 1872.

It is the school anthem for Harrow School; is specifically about life at school; is meant to give pupils now an idea of what it will be like in forty years when they return to their old school, and to remind old boys about their school life. It is the main school song of Harrow School, and is sung there at the end of any songs (this is an occasion when old boys of the school return to hear the schools songs being sung by current pupils, or an occasion within houses for singing the same songs at the end of each term), followed by "Auld Lang Syne" and the British National Anthem ("God Save The Queen"). The "Churchill" was written to celebrate the life of the most famous Old Harrovian, Sir Winston Churchill. Traditionally, verse three is sung by Old Harrovians in attendance at School Songs. The Churchill verse is only sung once a year at a special Churchill Songs. The penultimate Follow Up! in each chorus is sung unaccompanied by the School XII, which is made up of the best singers in the top year.

The song was used in the film Young Winston.

The Lyrics[edit]

Forty years on, when afar and asunder

Parted are those who are singing today,

When you look back, and forgetfully wonder

What you were like in your work and your play,

Then, it may be, there will often come o’er you,

Glimpses of notes like the catch of a song –

Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,

Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along,

Follow up! Follow up! Follow up

Follow up! Follow up

Till the field ring again and again,

With the tramp of the twenty-two men.

Follow up! Follow up!

Routs and discomfitures, rushes and rallies,

Bases attempted, and rescued, and won,

Strife without anger and art without malice, –

How will it seem to you, forty years on?

Then, you will say, not a feverish minute

Strained the weak heart and the wavering knee,

Never the battle raged hottest, but in it.

Neither the last nor the faintest, were we!

Follow up! etc....

Oh the great days. in the distance enchanted,

Days of fresh air, in the rain and the sun,

How we rejoiced as we struggled and panted –

Hardly believable, forty years on!

How we discoursed of them, one with another,

Auguring triumph, or balancing fate,

Loved the ally with the heart of a brother,

Hated the foe with a playing at hate!

Follow up etc.

Forty years on, growing older and older,

Shorter in wind, as in memory long,

Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder,

What will it help you that once you were strong?

God give us bases to guard or beleaguer,

Games to play out, whether earnest or fun;

Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,

Twenty, and thirty, and forty years on!

Follow up etc.

The Starehe Boys' Centre and School Rendition[edit]

FORTY YEARS ON (adapted from the famous song of Harrow School, written in 1872)

Forty years on, when afar and asunder,

Parted are those who are singing today,

When we look back and forgetfully wonder

What we were like in our work and our play:

Brotherhood strong and teachers devoted,

Assembly, Chapel, the House where we grew,

Posho, Githeri, the Founders' Day dinner,

Talks in Baraza, the friendship we knew.

Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu!

Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu!

Give honour again and again,

To Starehe where we became men,

Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu!

O the great days in the distance enchanted,

Hours in the classroom and hours in the field,

In games and athletics we struggled and panted,

Learning to strive hard and never to yield,

Scouting, exploring, those long expeditions,

Fighting of fires, swimming and First Aid,

Playing of music, debating and drama,

Voluntary service – our first steps we made.

Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu! Etc.

Forty years on growing older and older,

Shorter in wind as in memory long,

Feeble of foot and rheumatic of shoulder,

What will it help us that once we were strong?

God gives us duty for us to discharge it,

Problems to face, struggle with and overcome,

Service to render and glory to covet,

Twenty and thirty and forty years on!

Lenga Juu! Lenga Juu!

Other uses[edit]

Forty Years On is the school song of the prestigious Napier Boys' High School (known to the lads as Napier Mens) in Napier, New Zealand. The "tramp of the twenty-two men" line is altered and instead is "the tramp of the thirty true men" - in reference to Rugby Union which is the national sport, also at Wellington Boys College this version is used. Also sung at the breakup ceremony at Waitaki Boys' High in the 1960s.

In Australia the song is sung at a number of schools. In the Australian state of Victoria the song is sung regularly at the prestigious Scotch College, Melbourne, being the official Old Boy anthem and at Melbourne High School's Speech Night (Graduation Night). Wynnum State high and Rockhampton Girl's Grammar School (School Song). Only the first and last verses (excluding the Winston Churchill verse) are sung. Rather than the "tramp of the twenty-two men", both Scotch College and Melbourne High School replace the line with the "tramp of the thirty-six men" in reference to Australian rules football being the dominant football code in Victoria.

In the United Kingdom: the school song of the old Brewood Grammar School for boys, Netherthorpe School, Colyton Grammar School, Dover Grammar School, Woodford County High School in Essex, Beverley Grammar School in East Yorkshire, Bolton School, Manchester Grammar School, Stand Grammar School Whitefield, High Storrs Grammar School, Sheffield, the now defunct Salford Grammar School, the former Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys, Leicester (succeeded by Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College) and Harrow School's affiliated school, The John Lyon School. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was also the school song of Clifton High School (Bristol), an all-girls school at the time!It is also the school song of Wycombe High School for girls and was also sung at the end of term in the 1980s at Wycombe Abbey School, in whose songbook it figured. It was also sung by King Edward's Grammar School for Boys, Five Ways, Birmingham, in the 1950s by all the school leavers. It was also the school song of Lawnswood (formerly Leeds Modern School) hence the title of Alan Bennet's play since he is a former pupil.

In the United States: sung at the Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (excluding the Winston Churchill verse) at the commencement ceremony.

In India: the Cathedral and John Connon School of Bombay's school song, Prima in Indus, is an adaptation of this.

In Kenya it is sung on Founders' Day at Starehe Boys' Centre and School

In South Africa: at Pretoria Boys High School, Pretoria sung at all School Valedictions and assemblies at which Old Boys are present, with certain minor adaptions. 22 good men is substituted by 30 good men. It is sung in Forty Years On, a play by Alan Bennett. It also sung at Westville Boys High School, Durban, when the matrics have their speech night and ring the Swain bell symbolizing their departure from the school and continues ties to its family. The ringing I the bell is the final act of the Matric group before the final exams.

In Thailand, at Vajiravudh College considered to be the country's best boarding school built by King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) in 1910, the "tramp of twenty two men" became "The Might of Thirty Best Men" in reference to the school's supremacy in Rugby. There is also lyric in Thai which is sung each year before the King of Thailand at the Graduation Ceremony.

In Hong Kong, the melody is used by Queen's College as its school song, with its lyrics written by Headmaster Mr. William Kay (1920). The school song of Heep Yunn School is also adapted from this song. But its lyrics are in Chinese, rather than English which Queen's College uses.

In Canada, the girls at Havergal College in Toronto also sing this.

A shortened and slightly altered version of this song is used near the beginning of the 2010 film adaptation of Never Let Me Go.

References[edit]