An iconic and growing tradition in the life of Southend High School for Boys is its School Song. Nowadays, it is sung both at important formal occasions of School life such as prizegivings and end of term assemblies, and also increasingly on trips and excursions at home and abroad by the students.
What follows is a brief account of its existence, making reference to articles and comments from various issues of the Old Southendian Magazine, a full copy of which may be found on the Old Southendian website here.
In 2017-18, then School Organist, Thomas Stanford (Sparta 2011-18), prepared the School Song for publication, with the assistance of OSOS Committee members. This is now available to download for free here!
It is hoped to continue to extend this account with recordings and original sources in the near future for all to enjoy!
Prior to about 1923, the School Song was not how many remember it today. Rather than the bespoke music and words that are currently employed, the School used Harrow's Forty Years On.
As seen in the 1956 Old Southendian Magazine, Senior Prefect Lionel Elvin (Tuscany, 1917-24) was a little dissatisfied with singing a song written for a different school. Encouraged by history master J.F. Nichols, Elvin thus set about writing new words to suit, and the result was the three verses in use today plus two verses that did not survive the test of time!
Copied below (with the omitted second and fourth verses in italics) is the full five verse version of Elvin's work.
When our ship shall leave the river bank,
Its timbers brave the main,
Our port shall gleam through mists of time,
And beckon back again,
Then each adventurer shall feel,
As onward strains the eager keel,
From the School beside the church and sea
The speeding wind of memory,
And he who takes the long white road
Beyond the sloping down,
Shall proudly bear, for all to see,
The token of his town.
For him who toils alone and long,
For him swept forward by the throng,
There nothing difficult shall be
Through strength of ancient memory.
And some shall picture pounding ball
On turf of sodden field,
And some the fight on fiery pitch
When grit refused to yield;
And some shall think of desk and pen,
And organ-voices heard again,
And laughter ringing merrily
Adown the aisles of memory.
And a cry shall wake the sleeping years,
A shout "shoot hard for goal!"
The strain of the race shall steal the breath,
The thrill shall seize the soul.
And the voice of one shall sound to all
As it sounded oft through crowded Hall,
And then the least of us shall be
The nobler for the memory.
Here make we then, as old time men,
The pledge our souls demands:
To build as they, the best we may
The house not made with hands.
So, one with Future and with Past,
Our work in School shall live and last,
And through the centuries to be
Our School shall grow in memory.
Initially, Elvin's words were set to a tune written by the music master of the time, Mr P Small (although Elvin commented in the 1956 magazine article that he thought the 18th Century tune 'The Lass that Loves a Sailor' could have worked...).
But then, probably in 1939, Arthur Hutchings, the new music master and later Professor of music at Durham University, composed the tune that is known today.
A copy of Huchings' music appeared in the 1961 Old Southendian issue - as pictured.
See below a recording from the early noughties, which features Gerald Usher at the organ with a small group of sixth form student singers.
It is hoped to be able to add further recordings (both old and new) in the future, so do check back, or get in contact if you have a recording to share!