When Winds Breathe Soft

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by Samuel Webbe 1740 - 1816
A majestic choral classic, and a firm favourite with choral societies and audiences alike, this song is an audio seascape masterpiece with an intense nautical flavour, ranging from flat calm to storm force ten, Finisterre or Biscay style. A dramatic and beautiful song, capturing the ever changing mood of the sea with magical poetic words and well defined musical dynamics, which has featured prominently as a challenging test piece at choral competitions and festivals over several decades.
       Born in Minorca but brought up in London its composer Samuel Webbe was apprenticed to a cabinet maker where his aptitude for music was discovered after he was overheard playing the harpsichord he was repairing. After studying music he became one of the first organists at St Georges Church Liverpool and later in London at the Sardinian and Portuguese Embassy Chapels. He was a prolific composer of songs, and liturgical music including many motets and his opera "The Speechless Wife" was premiered at Covent Garden in 1794. "Jehovah, God of Gods, in pleasing accents speaks his sovereign will, and bids the waters and the winds be still" are typical of his fine poetic skills so well applied in his choral works and very reminiscent of Kipling making 'When Winds Breathe Soft' the perfect blend of words and music. Long may it continue retain its place as a popular item in the choral repertoire and stir the emotions with its powerful and awesome majesty.

When Winds Breathe Soft

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When winds breathe soft, along the silent deep,
The waters curl, the peaceful billows sleep:
A stronger gale the troubled waves awakes;
The surface roughens, and the ocean shakes.

More dreadful still, when furious storms arise,
The mounting billows bellow to the skies;
On liquid rocks the tott'ring vessels toss'd,
Unnumber'd surges lash the foaming coast:
The raging waves, excited by the blast,
Whiten with wrath, and split the sturdy mast.

When, in an instant, He who rules the floods,
Earth, air, and fire, Jehovah God of gods!
In pleading accents speaks his sovereign will,
And bids the waters and the winds be still.
Hush'd are the winds, the waters cease to roar;
Safe are the seas, and silent as the shore.

Now say, what joy elates the sailors breast,
With prosp'rous gale so unexpected blest!
What ease, what transport in each face is seen!
The heavens look bright, the air and sea serene:
For ev'ry 'plaint we hear a joyful strain
To Him, whose power unbounded rules the main.

Palfreyman - January 2022


Further Reading

Richmond Hill Dairies - Pemberton - These pages contain some personal memories from my youth and my association with Richmond Hill Dairies, a local business I grew up with and remember with some affection. A well known and important feature of the local community in its day and part of the heritage of Pemberton, this is my attempt to commit some small snapshot of its history to print, I hope these pages paint a worthy picture.

Mind Your Language - A humorous poem by "the bard of Haydock" George Anderton, inspired by memories of a trip to Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart Germany with the Haydock Male Voice Choir in 1975. This publication will bring a smile to the faces of not only those members who were there at the time and know the people involved but the wider population of Haydock as well who speak the language.

Wigan and the American Civil War - Wigan Coal and Iron Company, The Right Honourable John Lancaster MP for Wigan, the Confederate Raider Alabama, USS Kearsarge, Cherbourg and the yacht Deerhound all feature in the last great sea battle of the American Civil War.

Wigan Old Bank 1792 - A tragic boating accident on Windermere and a surprising journey through the social history of Wigan during the reign of Queen Victoria, highlighting the relationships between four families who played an important part in the commercial development of the town.

The Brocklebank LineDaniel Brocklebank (1741-1801), shipbuilder and mariner, a brief biography, and some background detail of his family and the shipping line he founded.

Little Ships at ZeebruggeAn account of a heroic attempt to block the port of Zeebrugge during the first World War, to protect supply routes into the UK by denying enemy submarines based there access to the open sea.

A Cricket Calypso - A short biopic of cricketer Cyril Washbrook and a snapshot of his career including his role in the West Indies tour of 1950 recorded in the lyrics of the Cricket Calypso.

Not Much of a Warrior - Wigan RLFC in the fifties and sixties, through rose coloured glasses. A golden age of legendary players and memorable moments, along with some personal memories.

picFarthingale Publications:... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general nature as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page.

picLocal Interest: Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster Wigan MP; Thomas Aspinwall Miners Agent; Thomas Aspinwall Obituary; Upholland Telephone Exchange; Thomas Linacre School Wigan; Scot Lane School Wigan; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God's Fair Earth; The Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It's a Funny Life; Private Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts 1674 - 1748; Wigan Old Bank 1792; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom 1692 - 1793; The Holy City Liverpool; Jubilee Park Memorial, Ashton in Makerfield; Little Ships at War 1918; A Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior; Peveril of the Peak.
Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Lineaer Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).
Words & Poetry: The Heart of Midlothian; The Family Man; The Pickwick Papers; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; The Wreck of the Hesperus; God Bless these Poor Wimmen that's Childer; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; The Antiquary; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth's dialect poetry; Martyrs of the Arena; Th' Coartin' Neet; Boat Song; Toddlin Whoam; A Lancashire Mon.
Wallgate Chronicles: Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; The Marriage of Figaro; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin.


picLyme Hall, Disley, CheshireFurther Links:
Wigan Advertisements - 1960
Vulcan Foundry;  Trustee Savings Bank;  Battye & Sons;  Walker Brothers;  Bradley's Schoolwear;  Pendlebury's/Wiend Press;  Starrs/Jackson and Smith;  James Lowe;  JJB Sports;  Bridge and Sons;  Worsley Mesnes Ironworks;  Sutcliffe Speakman - Leigh.

Richmond Hill Dairies
Introduction;  Site;  People;  Production;  Cleaning;  Deliveries;  Contributions 1;  Contributions 2;  Contributions 3;  Contributions 4;  Epilogue.