& THE SCHOOL CHOIR
“The school hymn (before “Shadowy The Throng” became the school song) was “A Safe Stronghold our God is Still”, and I still thrill to hear it in church.” Hilary Steeple ’44-’51
Some time ago, I managed to get hold of the words to the school song; thanks to Rosemary Jordan for that. A little while later, Maggie Cobbett was able to supply the music, courtesy of Vicky Duxbury.
Miss Clayton and Mrs. Dove wrote the school song for the 1954 Centenary. From then on, it was taught to new girls during their first term at school and performed at various school functions — Speech Day, the carol concert, etc., etc. The School Song was an important and integral part of school life. As far as I’m aware, it was in use until Lawnswood High School ceased to exist in 1971. To hear a performance of the song, click on the link below the verses.
If you have any memories of the School Song, please get in touch. Click on email@example.com
words by Mrs. Constance Dove, music by Miss Agnes Clayton
Shadowy the throng
Yet thousands strong
The loyal hearts who built this School.
Let us now raise
For a century's faithful, loving toil.
For those who served in days long gone,
Who brought to work a youthful zest,
Who gave themselves with cheerful heart
Unstintedly, nor sought for rest,
Until the firm resolve in every breast
Beat high to seek the best,
We praise Thy name, O Lord.
Grant us that we
May worthy be
And cherish that tradition,
That Lawnswood's name
Be known with fame
For grace, for scholarship and faith,
In every generation.
CLICK HERE to remind yourself of what our school song sounded like. Or, if you're pre-1954, you'll be able to hear it for the first time.
This recording was made on the Wednesday 5th November 2003 at Shadwell Methodist Church. The performance is by The Lawnswood Singers under the direction of Old Girl Brenda Hawer. The pianist is Peter Reasbeck (not an Old Girl!). I came across Brenda a few months earlier and she agreed to ask the choir to rehearse the song.
Miss Clayton formed The Lawnswood Singers just after she left teaching. Brenda was one of the original members and, when Miss Clayton left Leeds, she metaphorically handed her bâton to Brenda. Many of the ladies of the choir are Old Girls, although that’s no longer a criterion for joining. About half-a-dozen of the voices you hear performing the song learnt it at school from Miss Clayton. As the school song is not part of The Lawnswood Singers usual repertoire, I’m especially grateful to them for giving up their precious rehearsal time to learn, rehearse and perform this for us.
If you’d like to know more about The Lawnswood Singers, please have a look at their website at http://www.lawnswoodsingers.co.uk.
As far as I know, this is the only recording of ‘Shadowy The Throng’. It’s probably the only recording there ever will be. So, although our school has gone, the echo of those majestic piano chords and young girls’ voices filling the assembly hall, comes down to us through the years. I hope Miss Clayton approves!
[Techie stuff: you'll need a sound card and speakers (obviously). This is a RealAudio recording in ‘streaming audio’. It should play without any breaks, but if the Internet is running slowly you may find that there are pauses whilst it reloads. If this happens, try again at a quieter time.]
If you’d like to see the original music, click here. The image may take a few seconds to download - this was taken from a very old copy and may well be written in Miss Clayton's own hand!
“I can remember standing on the risers in Leeds Town Hall singing ‘Shadowy the throng yet thousands strong the loyal hearts who built this School...’” Susan Moon ’65-’71
“The opening bars of the school song were very similar if not identical to the opening bars of Mahler's 3rd symphony. Was Miss Clayton unaware of this or was it plagiarism?! We shall never know.” Margaret Bradbrook ’59-’66
“It brought back to me what we used to do (secretly) at the start of the second verse, where the music sounded like the Egyptian Sand Dance, and involved lots of horizontal hand postures and head thrusting.” Janet China ’65-’70
“‘Shadowy the Throng’; I left Lawnswood in the summer of ’71 just before the merger in the autumn and I can remember it being sung right up until I left.” Carol Hazelwood ’66-’71
“To tell the truth, the only School Song I remember is the one sung at the Leavers’ concert each year, which went to the tune of ‘Land of hope and glory’. I can't remember much of it, but it began: ‘Nunquam non paratus, never not prepared’ and ended up with a foray into the boys’ school field. Anyone remember it?” Elizabeth Moore ’58-’64
THE CHOIR was Miss Clayton’s pride and joy. As well as performing at school events such as Speech Day, the Choir occasionally entered music competitions.
"In my first year Miss Froggatt was Head of Music but after her Miss Clayton arrived and revolutionised the music, insisting we only sang for others when we really knew every note and inflection of the songs, and performed it to her high standards. I wonder if anyone remembers the special choir Miss Clayton formed to take part in the Ilkley Festival. We made a record, (very novel in those days), of the two songs we sang. We rehearsed a lot as the composer of one of the songs was on the panel. We were all very excited because we won. We sang 'Daffodils' and 'This is the key of the Kingdom' but I don't know which year; sometime between 1945-1950. I know we were all excited travelling to Ilkley. (Petrol was still rationed and only people with influence or a special job could run a car. We sang in the building opposite the railway station (the Town Hall?) and felt very important. The composer of 'This is the Key of the Kingdom' was there too."“ Mavis Gray ’45-’50I have contacted Ilkley Library regarding the Festival. They’ve replied as follows:
“The Wharfedale Competitive Musical Festival held at the Kings Hall and the Programme of Friday, June 17th 1949 does indeed show an entry from the Lawnswood High School in the class for Secondary School Choirs open class, juniors, 30 to 40 voices. The conductor was Miss Clayton and the section was split into song a) 'The Key of the Kingdom' by Herbert Howells and section b) 'I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud' by Thiman. The programme does not of course give the winners but it does state that the winners in Section A will hold for one year the Ackeroyd Cup. (Sir Frederick A. Ackeroyd was the President of the Festival) You are right: Dr. Herbert Howells, Hon. A.R.C.M. was one of the 2 adjudicators!”(‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ is the first line of Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Daffodils’. SEM)
Click here to see the 1949 Ilkley Festival programme, and here to see newspaper reviews of the competition. Reviews of the 1951 Horsforth and Ilkley Festivals can be found here.
“Has anyone mentioned the junior choir led by Mrs Smith? I can remember going to Brunswick Chapel to perform in the Sunday evening service on a couple of occasions.” Sheila Galbraith ’60-’67There are some audio recordings of Miss Clayton putting the choir through their paces. I don’t know when they date from, and the quality isn’t very good. The total running time is about 30 minutes, so it’s too big to add to the website. Click here to hear about 8 minutes of the rehearsal. If you’d like the whole lot, please get in touch. Gilly Marshall has listened to them and has commented as follows:
“Don’t know the exact date but possibly around 1963/4 we were on television in a BBC Sunday morning service from St Chad’s to celebrate Education Sunday. We sang and some of the staff/students from the college were involved in the service. My mum and dad sat glued to the tele at home for a glimpse of us.” Sheila Galbraith ’60-’67
“I remember a Witches song too that we were taught for a schools choir competition under the baton of Miss Ruth Buzzing if my memory is correct.
‘Up on their brooms the Witches stream, crooked and black in the crescent’s gleam;
One foot high and one foot low,
Bearded, cloaked and cowled they go.’” Miriam Lewis ’66-’71
“We sang The Prickety Bush for a competition (Let The People Sing - Home service if my memory serves me right). The Splendour Falls was for a school Speech Day & I think it was Wendy Caton who stood on the balcony at the back of the school hall to do the 'echo' effect.” Gilly Marshall ’55-’62