Monday, December 11, 2017

'Whispering Hope' A Hymn And John Keats' Poem

It has been a long time since a book is mentioned within these postings of singers and songs.

I love John Keats' (1795-1821) To Hope, from his collection of poems under, Keats: Truth and Imagination. It's a book from my home library. He was well-known for poems like The Eve of St. Agnes, Ode To A Grecian Urn and othersHe died at the very young age of 25.

The hymn, Whispering Hope, another favourite of mine, was playing on YouTube and I was listening to the Haley Westenra's rendition. It was one of a number of songs composed by Septimus Winner (1827-1902). Jim Reeves made it famous in 1958.

Both poem and hymn have similar themes, except that the feeling of hope is expressed differently. But they agree on one point, that it is Sweet, fill the sky with silver glitterings and has the voice of an angel:

So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed... (Keats)

When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day... (Winner)

The 19th Century is still around today with its poetry and music. Perhaps you may have read the poem and is familiar with the song? Pray tell.
Portrait of 'Hope' by George Frederick Watts 1886 (2nd Version) is featured in the Keats' book that I mentioned.

To Hope
by John Keats (composed 1816)

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my "mind's eye" flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Whene'er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moonbeams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof!

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!

Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Should e'er unhappy love my bosom pain,
From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
O let me think it is not quite in vain
To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,
Let me not see our country's honour fade:
O let me see our land retain her soul,
Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom's shade.
From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed---
Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

Let me not see the patriot's high bequest,
Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!
With the base purple of a court oppress'd,
Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head!

From Illustrated Poetry Anthology (1996: Brockhampton Press).

Haley Westenra sings 'Whispering Hope': Video Haley Westenra. Thank You.

Whispering Hope
by Septimus Winner - (Composed 1868)

Soft as the voice of an angel,
  1. Breathing a lesson unheard,
    Hope with a gentle persuasion
    Whispers her comforting word:
    Wait till the darkness is over,
    Wait till the tempest is done,
    Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
    After the shower is gone.
    • Refrain:
      Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
      Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
  2. If, in the dusk of the twilight,
    Dim be the region afar,
    Will not the deepening darkness
    Brighten the glimmering star?
    Then when the night is upon us,
    Why should the heart sink away?
    When the dark midnight is over,
    Watch for the breaking of day.
  3. Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
    Rends the dark veil for the soul,
    Whither the Master has entered,
    Robbing the grave of its goal;
    Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
    Come to my sad weary heart;
    Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
    Never, oh, never depart.

Images: Google

Christmas joy is here 
More postings soon
For everyone's cheer...



Hi Andy,
I learnt to sing WHISPERING HOPE at a very young age. Lovely song. In fact, I could sing a handful of hymns way back then. Learnt those hymns from both my sisters who attended S.M.S.

JIT LOA said...

What a beautiful combination of senior male voices and Westerna's voice. It's a joy to hear such as this performance.


Perhaps this poem is much deeper than personal despair; perhaps this poem really is about the speaker's lament for his country's welfare. He wants his country to still have its pride, freedom and honour.

Henk Madrotter said...

This is lovely Andy :) I love Keats but always have been more of a Yeats man myself, even if it was only for these two lines:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Big lover of the works of A. E. Housman too myself :)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you, Jimmy and Henk, for both your interest in the posting. Appreciate that both the poem and song brought back images in the mind's eye.

"Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast..."


Greetings all, hope you are all well and in good spirit. So, I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and hope that I'll be better at keeping in touch.



This is one from way back when we were growing up. Never fail to bring a tear to the eye. Still, love it. Beats all those new era songs.


Whispering good night n sweet sweet dreams my friend ..bye bye !!!!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Sui Pang, Richard Rajoo, JollyGreenP and Robert Suriya for visiting.


Have you ever heard of Sissel? She is Norwegian, and an international star for 25 years. She has an exquisite voice, stunning personal beauty and a wonderful stage presence. I see Hayley as a young Sissel, with a beautifully clear and pure soprano voice, and perhaps destined to become as great a star as Sissel!