A Birthday Hansel

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A Birthday Hansel, Op. 92, is a song cycle for 'high voice' and harp composed by Benjamin Britten and set to texts by Robert Burns.[1] The last song cycle that Britten wrote, it was composed in honour of the Queen Mother's 75th birthday, at the request of her daughter, Elizabeth II.[2][3]

Composed in March 1975, the piece was given its debut performance in January 1976 by Britten's life partner Peter Pears and harpist Osian Ellis.[2]

In recognition of the Queen Mother's Scottish ancestry Britten chose seven poems by Burns, sung in the Scots language, and performed without a break. 'Hansel' is a Scots word meaning welcome gift or present. At Britten's request Colin Matthews arranged four of the songs for voice and piano, these were published separately as Four Burns Songs in 1978.[2]


  1. "Birthday Song"
  2. "My Early Walk"
  3. "Wee Willie Gray"
  4. "My Hoggie"
  5. "Afton Water"
  6. "The Winter"
  7. "Leezie Lindsay"