The Voice of the Bard

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word,
That walk’d among the ancient trees…
(William Blake)

A Bard is the one in a noble house who sings its history, a voice that connects us to our fathers and God.

  1. The Minstrel-Boy
  2. Will Ye No Come Back Again?
  3. The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond
  4. Heart of Wisdom (Ishmael Wallace)
  5. March for piano (Ishmael Wallace)
  6. Arioso for piano (Ishmael Wallace)
  7. Andante for piano (Ishmael Wallace)
  8. Amazing Grace
  9. Pipers for piano (Ishmael Wallace)
  10. El Novio de la Muerte (The Bridegroom of Death)
  11. A Full Heart (Ishmael Wallace)
  12. Sonnenuntergang (Hölderlin/Cornelius)
  13. Forward (March for piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  14. Into the Light (March for piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  15. Gute Nacht (Good Night)
  16. By the Grave for piano (Ishmael Wallace)
  17. Lifting Up the Banner (March for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  18. Sugar Cane (Vals Venezolano for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  19. Sweet Beulah Land (Squire Enos Parsons Jr.)
  20. Coming Home (Waltz for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  21. Persephone (Waltz for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  22. At Dusk (March for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  23. A Keepsake (for piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  24. To __ (Waltz for Piano) (Ishmael Wallace)
  25. March of the Frogs (Ishmael Wallace)
  26. Warm Heart Polka (Ishmael Wallace)

1. The Minstrel-Boy

Words: Thomas Moore (1779 — 1852) from Irish Melodies; Music: The Moreen, old Irish song

The Minstrel-Boy to the war is gone, 

In the ranks of death you’ll find him; 

His father’s sword he has girded on, 

And his wild harp slung behind him. 

“Land of song!” said the warrior-bard, 

“Though all the world betrays thee, 

One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard, 

One faithful harp shall praise thee!” 

The Minstrel fell! — but the foeman’s chain 

Could not bring his proud soul under; 

The harp he loved ne’er spoke again, 

For he tore its chords asunder; 

And said, “No chains shall sully thee, 

Thou soul of love and bravery! 

Thy songs were made for the pure and free, 

They shall never sound in slavery.” 

The Minstrel-Boy is poet, musician, and warrior in one. In this, he touches an archetype; the Greek god Apollo is god not only of archery but music and poetry. Music and war are aspects of heroic life.

He’s joined “the ranks of death”, an ordering of men above which Death broods; he goes to war wearing “his father’s sword” — no longer an individual, but the representative of generations. His harp is “wild” because it gives voice to Nature: a harp is touched directly by the fingers (unlike a piano string), and may be sounded by a breeze. 

The harp is a heart: the heart of a nation. The nation exists in the songs of poets. It is like the Christ: not of the world; abandoned by all… But the Minstrel-Boy will stay by its side. This battle is not about utility, but principle. 

The boy falls; he lies dead on the earth, unmoving. But his “proud soul” is free. His soul, in a way a musician will understand, WAS his harp, and he takes the harp with him into death. 

A soul that is ruled by the external is not “pure”. It’s better to flee —even to flee the body — than to live beneath an alien chain.

The song of the soul must not be caught by the world.

2. Will Ye No Come Back Again?

As C.S. Lewis suggests in Mere Christianity, this world is God’s, but under enemy occupation. I must be loyal, as the Jacobites to their King across the water:

Bonnie Chairlie’s noo awa’,
Safely ower the friendly main;
Mony a heart will break in twa,
Should he ne’er come back again.
Will ye no come back again?
Will ye no come back again?
Better lo’ed ye canna be,
Will ye no come back again?

Ye trusted in your Hielan’ men,
They trusted you dear Chairlie.
They kent your hidin’ in the glen,
Death or exile bravin’.

We watched thee in the gloamin’ hour,
We watched thee in the mornin’ grey.
Tho’ thirty thousand pounds they gie,
O there is nane that wad betray.

Sweet the laverock’s note and lang,
Liltin’ wildly up the glen.
But aye tae me he sings ae sang,
Will ye no’ come back again?

gloamin’ = twilight
laverock = skylark

3. The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

‘Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen,
By the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond,
Where deep in purple hue, the Hieland hills we view,
And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

Bonnie = pretty; braes = hills; Loch Lomond: a lake in Scotland; gae = walk; high road = main road; low road = death; Ben Lomond = a mountain on the eastern shore of the Loch; Hieland = Highland, upcountry; gloamin’ = twilight

4. Heart of Wisdom

Words from the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, Heart of Perfect Wisdom; music by Ishmael Wallace

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form: the Mystery of Incarnation. Gone, gone, crossed over, all crossed over, awakened — hail!

5. March for piano

By Ishmael Wallace

6. Arioso for piano

By Ishmael Wallace

7. Andante for piano

By Ishmael Wallace

8. Amazing Grace

Words by John Newton; music by William Walker

9. Pipers for piano

By Ishmael Wallace

10. El Novio de la Muerte (The Bridegroom of Death)

The unofficial hymn of La Legión Española. Words by Fidel Prado Duque, music by Juan Costa Casals. A synopsis:

“None knew his story, but the regiment guessed a pain gnawed at his heart. If asked, he’d reply reluctantly, ‘I am a man struck by the paw of Fortune; I am bridegroom of Death…’

Where the enemy’s fire was fiercest, he advanced, and died retrieving the Flag.

When at last they recovered his body, on his chest they found a letter and the portrait of a woman divinely beautiful. She wrote in the letter, ‘If God calls you, save a place for me; I will come right away’, and bade him a last farewell.

To be at your side, I became the bridegroom of Death…”

11. A Full Heart

For piano; by Ishmael Wallace

12. Sonnenuntergang

Poem by Friedrich Hölderlin, music by Peter Cornelius


Where are you? Drunk on all your joys,
My soul goes into night; for a moment ago
I listened, as, full of golden
Tones, the lovely Sun Youth

Played his song of evening on a heavenly lyre;
It resounded all around the woods and hills.
But he’s gone far away, to pious
Peoples who still give him honor.

(translation by Ishmael Wallace)


Wo bist du? trunken dämmert die Seele mir
Von all deinen Wonnen; denn eben ist’s,
Daß ich gelauscht, wie goldner Töne
Voll der entzückende Sonnenjüngling

Sein Abendlied auf himmlischer Leier spielt’;
Es tönten rings die Wälder und Hügel nach.
Doch fern ist er zu frommen Völkern,
Die ihn noch ehren, hinweggegangen.

13. Forward! (March for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

14. Into the Light (March for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

15. Gute Nacht (Good Night)

Poem by Wilhelm Müller, music by Franz Schubert. First song in the cycle Winterreise, Winter Journey.

A translation by Ishmael Wallace:

Good Night

A stranger, I came,
A stranger, I go.
The May-time was gracious,
With many a pretty posy.
The girl spoke of love,
The mother, even marriage;
Now the world is dark,
The way veiled in snow.

I cannot choose the hour
Of my departure,
Must grope in this darkness
For my own way.
For companion, a shadow
Cast by the Moon,
I search the white moors
For wild things’ tracks.

Why should I wait
To be tossed out?
Let stray dogs howl
Outside their house!
Love likes to wander —
God has made it so —
From one to another;
My darling, good night!

It would be a shame
To disturb your dreams —
You shall not hear my step.
I gently close the door.
In going out, I’ll write
On the gate, “Good night”,
So you may see I’d thought
Of you.

16. By the Grave for piano

By Ishmael Wallace

17. Lifting Up the Banner (March for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

18. Sugar Cane (Vals Venezolano for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

19. Sweet Beulah Land

By Squire Enos Parsons, Jr.

20. Coming Home (Waltz for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

21. Persephone (Waltz for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

22. At Dusk (March for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

23. A Keepsake (for piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

24. To __ (Waltz for Piano)

By Ishmael Wallace

25. March of the Frogs

By Ishmael Wallace

26. Warm Heart Polka

By Ishmael Wallace

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