Love is and was my Lord and King


8th February 2015 | For Chen Wang
Photograph by Caroline Allard

What is it?

Love is and was my Lord and King is a setting of the poem by the same name, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It takes the form of a delightful minuet lasting a mere 1'17" and is available in two versions. The first is for solo soprano and piano. The second is for mixed choir (SATB) and piano. Light and airy, with more than a hint of the modal harmonies and dance rhythms of the Renaissance period, it also features modulations that would not be out of place in the late works of Richard Strauss.


Love is and was my Lord and King,
And in his presence I attend
To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.

Love is and was my King and Lord,
And will be, tho' as yet I keep
Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompass'd by his faithful guard,

And hear at times a sentinel
Who moves about from place to place,
And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.


Solo version

played on flute and piano

Choral version

played as an instrumental



A summer's evening in Hanoi

Love is and was is one of a very small number of works that I have composed almost entirely while working abroad and without access to my keyboard. In this particular case I was working for a few weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, and this music was written while sitting at the desk in room 703 of the De Syloia Hotel. From the outset I envisaged it almost as a whispered courtly dance of the Renaissance period.

Of all the forty-four countries in which I have worked, Vietnam is the one with which I fell most instantly in love. Hanoi is noisy, chaotic, dirty in places and linguistically fascinating: Vietnamese was the first tonal language that I ever made a serious effort to learn. So the video above gives you a little bit of Vietnam!

This song puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. It’s beautifully tender and slightly cheeky (a bit like Vietnam, I guess), as if God is saying, “Why are you worried about things? I love you and I’m in absolute control. All is well. Go to sleep and don’t worry!”


Bún riêu cua (a delicious rice noodle soup with crab)
as served by Quán ăn ngon, Hanoi, Vietnam

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