Jaqui's Daily Blog

High Germany - Or The Story of Harry and Polly

Christine has brought along a small drum with which to accompany our choir’s rendition of High Germany.  I think it adds a certain atmosphere to the piece but Mr B is doubtful. Still, as I tell him constantly, we don’t need to agree on absolutely everything. Which, all things considered, is probably A Good Thing.


High Germany is just one of the songs we will be singing when we perform tomorrow at a special event at Brighton University, celebrating Sussex and the South Downs.  You may be struggling to work out the connection between a song titled High Germany and the county of Sussex but our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, has no such doubt in her mind. As far as she is concerned it fits in perfectly with Sweet Polly Oliver, who dressed up as a soldier to follow her love to war and ended up nursing him back to health (aw, bless!) when the army doctor had given him up for dead.  Also with The Girl I Left Behind Me as sung by a soldier boy sent to Brighton Camp (please note the Sussex reference) and pining after his girl Sally who had vowed her love for him in the silvery light of the stars. Poetic types, these Men of Sussex.


Someone in the choir said it might not be very appropriate to sing High Germany, given that Germany would be playing Argentina in the World Cup Final on Sunday.  While always prepared to allow for other people’s opinions, I did find it a trifle difficult to fathom what conceivable difference our performance could make to events playing out in Brazil. It seems very unlikely that Mueller and Co will be taking time out from their last-minute preparations to check out what’s happening in the Asa Briggs Theatre at Brighton University at 11.30 a.m. tomorrow. They’ll be too busy, won’t they?


High Germany is quite a funny song. It’s not meant to be funny (I don’t think) but it makes me laugh. In the first verse, the soldier boy Harry, entreats his dear wife, Polly, to get dressed up in all her finery and head off with him to the “cruel wars” in – you’ve guessed it – High Germany.  As invitations go, I think I’d prefer a trip to Nando’s.  Dear Polly isn’t daft, she has an excuse all ready. Her feet are far too tender for such an excursion, she complains.  She will have to let Harry go off to the cruel wars all on his own, she sings (somewhat merrily.) Harry, however, has an answer for everything – he will buy Polly a dapple grey horse so that she will not need to put her tender feet to the test. It will be his heart’s delight, he carols, winningly, to ride along by her side through the moors and high mountains of High Germany.


Polly has to think quickly, on her tender feet, you might say.  In verse four she comes up with a killer argument – she has children at home, she reminds her husband dear, she cannot leave them. You’d think she might have thought of the kids first, wouldn’t you, rather than use verse 2 to moan about the state of her feet? Anyway it seems poor Harry has no answer to this but will have to trot off to High Germany without his love.


The chaps in our choir are going to sing Harry’s verses and We Girls (sopranos and altos combined) are going to play Polly.  Christine, having banged her drum enthusiastically through every verse, has been asked by the Redoubtable Muriel to confine herself to the verses when the chaps are singing. This makes perfect sense to me but Christine looks a little miffed.  


When we get home, I carefully type out all the songs we will be singing and insert the sheets into our red files.  Mr B says he will need to go through every song carefully to make sure he sings when he is supposed to be singing.  As in, when the chaps are singing. He doesn’t want to risk finding himself a Polly.  Heaven forfend!


Because only 25 of us can make tomorrow’s event, Muriel is swelling our numbers by the introduction of a dozen members of another choir she conducts.  We will be wearing our red shirts and black skirts or trousers but I don’t know what the members of the other choir will be wearing. Presumably Muriel will have taken them through exactly the same paces as us so they will know when to sing softly and when to belt out the words.


Indeed, so long as they know their Harries from their Pollies, we should get along just fine. 

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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