Monday, October 29, 2007

Will you play for me?

Are you a pianist, and do you love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart and enjoy playing sacred song arrangements?

Narelle is interested in working with an accompanist in a service ministry in New Zealand in the Tararua District.

Email Narelle at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CONCERTO ANNULÉ, or perhaps Tissues and Issues!

The director of the November “Music Through the Ages” concert has changed his mind about including me in his program. The saddest part was that he didn’t have the courtesy to tell me–I found out through a member of the choir after two weeks of phoning him and leaving messages which he didn’t answer.

Before I knew I wasn’t wanted, I heard two things via the grapevine: the program was now being performed on two nights, a Friday and a Sunday, and these dates were three weeks earlier than I had been told back in April. This made me realized I had to decide whether I would perform on a Sunday or not, and with the next two concert options open to me being Sunday programs, it’s a good thing I worked it through. My conclusion is that I'm prepared to do a sacred program on a Sunday provided it doesn't interfere with my Sabbath study. In this case, it wasn't sacred and it would interfere, so I was prepared to tell the director I would sing on the Friday but not the Sunday.

I also realized that with three weeks less to prepare than I’d planned for, it was doubtful that I was going to be able to do “I Believe In You”, considering I was struggling to produce a reliable top A. It seemed wise to alter my selection, so I chose instead Martin Luther's hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". It's a song that seems designed for a powerhouse male choir, its plonky, definitive rhythm not suited to a light soprano, but if the Viking Choir is singing "Dona Nobis Pacem" and another Latin piece a cappella, I figured I could do just as well with the lovely tune of AMF. I studied the four stanzas from two different English translations, and with a bit of mixing and matching and a very tiny rephrase, settled on three stanzas that are reasonably easy to understand, injecting exhilaration by raising each stanza a semitone. Luther's hymn has been called “the great­est hymn of the great­est man of the great­est per­i­od of Ger­man his­to­ry”, thus creating for me an excellent progression to J. S. Bach's "My Heart Ever Faithful". =) I’ve enjoyed working on this program, but I don’t know when I’ll get to share it.

I recently purchased a CD by contemporary American soprano Kathleen Battle and was delighted to find “My Heart Ever Faithful” on it. It has a continuo accompaniment (rather than piano), which makes it supremely delicious (I love cello). The first time I sang along, I got quite a high. =) It’s also inspiring to hear such an accomplished performer sing it.

Kathleen also sings “Du Bist Bei Mir” on that recording. I’ve procured the sheet music and have started learning Charlotte Church’s sacred version, “If Thou Art Near” (does anyone know who wrote the lyrics for that?). Dad was delighted when he heard me singing it because his mother used to perform it. He hadn’t known what it was called, but the melody evoked pleasant memories for him.

“I Sit Beside the Fire” almost got chucked from my repertoire in September. My teacher didn’t have the entire book of Donald Swann’s Tolkein arrangements, so the Elvish pronunciation and translation was missing. The English lyrics were fine, so I (foolishly) took the song on trust and proceeded to learn it. But as I worked on the difficult Elvish lyrics, I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable singing something I didn’t understand. I couldn’t delete the verse from the rest of the song because it was set as an alternate melody creating the song’s climax. I mentioned this to Dad and a friend, and they suggested I look it up on the internet. I had tried that previously, but had searched for the song title, not the Elvish lyrics.

Googling the first line turned up both a pronunciation guide and the translation, which revealed the song was a hymn of worship to a star goddess! Having just seen Louie Giglio‘s “Indescribable” DVD presentation on the magnitude and magnificence of the heavens created by our God, there was no way I could give credit to anyone else. Distressed that the Elvish words now seemed well and truly stuck in my head, it was dump time for that song until Dad suggested I rewrite the Elvish part. Bless you, Dad! I didn’t get any sleep that afternoon, but I did produce a rewrite that I like so much I’m prepared to make the song a Narelle standard.

I turned the Elvish verse into something more meaningful, managing to match Tolkein’s style and theme fairly well. Donald Swann’s arrangement actually blends two different Tolkein poems, so dropping the Elvish hasn’t created any great Tolkein heresy. It works really well for me now. The lyrics are so emotive and the melody supports them so well. I would happily sing it a cappella. Actually, I don’t like Swann’s finale, so I’d probably close a cappella anyway.

Interestingly, placing clean new lyrics over the bad ones is what has enabled me to get rid of the Elvish from my head. As I type this post, I can’t remember even the first line. I’ll leave it forgotten. =)

As it turned out, the director didn’t want to talk to me, so I didn’t have to talk to him. My preparations weren't a useless exercise, though, because I learned some important lessons. I hope you, too, have learned something from reading this. = )


A Mighty Fortress is our God

Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, who is this? Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabbath Lord, and there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

His word above all earthly powers, no thanks to devils bideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

My Heart Ever Faithful

J. S. Bach

My heart ever faithful
Sing praises, be joyful,
Thy Jesus is near;
Away with complaining,
Away with complaining,
Faith ever maintaining,
My Jesus is here;
My heart ever faithful
Sing praises, be joyful,
Sing praises, be joyful,
Thy Jesus is here.

Etcetera, variously put together through nine pages.

I Sit Beside the Fire

J. R. R. Tolkein/Donald Swann/Narelle Worboys

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
With morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.
For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
In every wood in every spring there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
And people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.

Oh, who will sing my song with me? and walk this path along with me?
To see the flowers and feel the wind, to smell the sky and taste the rain,
To join our hands with tenderness and hearts with loving-kindnesses,
To speak the tears and sing the joys, and sing the joys.

I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.

You gotta hear those last two lines with the music…utterly haunting and gorgeous to sing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Carolyn Ballinger LYRICS & Sheet Music

Carolyn returned to Australia at the end of July and is settling back into home and church life. If you like her songs as much as I do, you'll be wanting the sheet music. You can order them from her at or write to 3 Anaba Street, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia.

The lyrics for her songs are printed below.


You left your rightful place as king
to dwell with undeserving man.
Your humble birth in a quiet stall
was part of God’s redeeming plan.

Only you, only you care this much for me,
Lord Jesus, no one else but you,
And if I were the only one on earth,
Only you would have done it all just for me.

You were falsely charged and condemned to die,
yet the words you spoke were few.
Your only plea was to God in heav’n:
“Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

When you died, your body was laid in a tomb
and many thought it was the end.
But on the third day you conquered death;
you rose never to die again.


So many questions, so many fears, there’s nowhere left to hide.
So many doubts and countless tears there’s no more peace inside.
But you can be released, you can leave them all behind.
Just come unto Me and you’ll forever be My child.

I’ve loved you from the beginning of time.
I love you, even now I’m by your side,
And nothing will, or ever can separate you from My love.
You will forever be My child.

There may be storms and times of darkness, but you don’t need to fear.
There may be times of grief and pain that seem too hard to bear.
But you can come to Me, My arms are always open wide.
No matter what comes, you will forever be My child.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Operation Christmas Child 2007

The busy season is in full swing, with Operation Christmas Child 2007 presentations running around the country-side. See the following post for more details of our part in the jog. Our territory is from Pahiatua to Waipawa, and our aim is for 400 boxes. Last year Dannevirke alone managed 80. Here's a photo of Dad and me with those 80 before we shipped them off to the Auckland warehouse.

If you'd like to fill a shoebox or volunteer at a packing station, check out or if you're in New Zealand, freephone 0800 684 300.


A report on the results of the 2007 mission in this region may be found at Look for Mount Shoebox. Ed.

My Child in a Shoebox

My Dad and I have done two Operation Christmas Child (2007) presentations this month, with other bookings to local churches/schools/clubs flooding in. I am so enjoying working with my Dad. Due to my chronic illness, it's been more than decade since I was involved in any family ministry. There's just me at home now (I have 4 siblings) and it's really important to me to be involved in what my parents are doing, particularly my Dad.

Sunday morning we did a double-service marathon at a local church. Dad did the early service and Mum and I joined him for the 2nd, at which Dad and I alternated speaking, and I gave the closing comments and sang "My Child," accompanied by Mum. It appears that that song, combined with OCC's Good Samaritan approach to helping impoverished children, moves folk to tears every time. We gave out around 40 empty shoeboxes to be filled, and the minister's wife took a pile of extras in anticipation of further interest.

When we got home, I collapsed on the couch while Mum and Dad ate lunch and we all decompressed. I was on sensory overload! -- so many people, so many conversations, so much happening, so much noise -- the hardest part was the youth group being permitted carte blanche with the music equipment in the 'sanctuary' after the service, competing with each other to see who could make the most noise, even playing different songs at the same time. Talk about a rock party. There's a speaker in the foyer, so despite the soundproof glass doors, it wasn't possible to get away from the noise.

I treasure a comment Dad made as we wound down. He said that as he got to the end of his 1st service speel, he realized he hadn't figured out how to draw it to a conclusion because I usually do that. He missed me! And he said he really likes the way I sing. It means a huge amount to know that he values me, that I'm useful to him. The joy of working together in harmony is a blessing without price.

I'm always astonished at how I can produce a nice sound during performance/under pressure even though my rehearsals may be less than marvellous. Do microphones enhance the voice? I had the benefit of excellent accoustics at the Town Hall, but I'm not sure you could say that for the church. Sorry, I didn't get that videoed -- although there's sure to be a tape of the service. I did record my final rehearsal with Mum on Saturday night. Here's the video link:

Dad's been invited to do his OCC presentation for the Youth Group on Friday night. I'm not invited because the youth group leaders don't think the teenagers will appreciate my music. That's okay -- I deserve a rest. = ) Ironically, song leader Moala Withey, of rock band "mana3" fame, liked what I did so much that she invited me to take the lead microphone for the closing hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness".

Later, after the crowds around our OCC booth had dissipated somewhat and I had a chance to sit down and eat some breakfast (at 12 noon!), I met youth group member Sarah, whom I'm guessing is about 14 years old. She came to sit beside me for a chat. Her reason was a bright orange notebook in her hand. She gave this to me, confiding that she'd written a song. I read through this and offered encouragement to find a way to persevere with her music studies (she quit piano after a year because she didn't get on with the teacher...I understood perfectly, having had the same teacher) and figure out a melody to put to the lyrics. Sarah was delighted when she heard that I'm doing the OCC presentation for the Girls Brigade this Wednesday, saying her sister and friends would also be very happy to hear that news.

I was specifically invited to do the whole GB presentation, "because you're a girl", they said, but I asked that Dad come along, because he's as much part of this as I am. We're a team, we work well together, and I like us working well together. = ) So I get two days rest, then a wind up to perform again, hopefully not complicated by a visit to the dentist a few hours beforehand!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Music Week with Tessa and Emma McGeorge

August 12th to 18th, 2007

The McGeorges describe the week with numerous adjectives...productive, wonderful, brimming with fun, fellowship, laughter, tutoring, recording, downloading, and of course singing.

I add a few more to that: intense, stimulating, exhausting. But I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a challenge to retain my prestige as the "real" singer when I was so busy focusing on them that I didn't warm up or rehearse my part properly. It was a great learning experience for me as a teacher. Not knowing what skill level the girls had, I'd decided to wing it rather than plan all the lessons, which to my surprise worked well (it takes some effort to smother my perfectionist nature ;). It was also a great preparation for my performance on Sunday, seeing as other commitments had diverted me from my music for a few weeks.

We used both audio and video recordings to study our progress. The girls weren't at all happy about viewing themselves, but quickly saw what a valuable asset it was. We had a huge amount of ground to cover, as they needed the basics of support, breathing, projection, stage presence, etc. I pushed them fairly steadily, using "Dona Nobis Pacem" as a training tool and each of them working on one of Carolyn Ballinger's songs. We're all pleased with the progress they made. Here's the link to a video of our best effort:

The three of us producing a smooth end note to each verse is quite significant, and I am so proud of Tessa for keeping her eyes from flitting to window and ceiling and a multitude of other places and remembering to smile.

We didn't have any lessons on Friday, using the day to just hang out together, going shopping (I believe 4 music disks were purchased!) and watching a movie (guest favourite, "A Walk to Remember").

That evening I took the opportunity to do some serious study with Mum on our presentation of "My Child". I did record a few takes of that which turned out to be a bit of a giggle, but I decided you'd think better of me if I uploaded a 'correct' version. = ) See MY CHILD IN A SHOEBOX post.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Songuine Swinging Again

I've been rehearsing 2 songs by Carolyn Ballinger for my Operation Christmas Child program -- "My Child" and "Only You". Carolyn is a 22-year-old Australian, a former homeschooler with a degree in piano performance, who has been touring with CTI Music Ministries (USA) for the past year. See Her summer outreach in Singapore is about to conclude and then she'll be returning home. I love Carolyn's songs -- lyrics that reach all the way to that deep, needy spot, sweet melodies, and gorgeous accompaniments. I hope she keeps composing!

I've started work on my program for "Music Through the Ages" in November. I will be singing "My Heart Ever Faithful" by J. S. Bach; "I Sit Beside the Fire", a poem by J. R. R. Tolkein which Donald Swann set to music circa 1967 (see "The Road Goes Ever On" at, quite delightful; and "I Believe in You", an Il Divo/Celine Dion piece. I learned last year how important it is to regularly reassure the people we love that we believe in them and support them in their endeavours. It's not necessary that I sing a modern song (there will be plenty of recent music on the program, I'm sure), and I'm very happy exploring Bach and Handel, but I really wanted to sing it as soon as I heard it, and the show director already knew the song and wanted me to sing it, too. It's important to me that I not just tickle people's ears with a pleasant sound, but that I lodge a purpose to my singing that will give them something to think about.

I'm gearing up for my teaching debut in August, a live-in week of coaching with Emma and Tessa McGeorge. I know from past experience that if you want to learn something well and quickly or refine and define a certain skill, teach it! Having had just 6 sessions with a voice professional, I'm going to encapsulate what I've learned by passing it on. I know it's going to be a fun week -- and it won't just be the students who learn heaps!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Zealand, My Homeland -- ANZAC rehearsal

ANZAC Day is tomorrow, and yesterday we rehearsed for the ANZAC concert at the Fountain Theatre in Dannevirke.

ANZAC Day is a public holiday in New Zealand, a day set aside to commemorate the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who died during the Gallipoli landings in Turkey in 1915 during the First World War. See and for further details.

Every New Zealand city and country village has a cenotaph inscribed with the names of the fallen from their community, and on ANZAC Day those names, and the names of soldiers from subsequent wars, are honoured by a public parade and wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph. New Zealand’s defense forces are kept busy providing uniformed personnel for fly-overs and as escorts, guards, and guest speakers.

In recent years, the Dawn Service (5:15am) and 9am Parade and Wreath-Laying Ceremony, traditionally attended by representatives of community clubs, associations, and schools, have become extremely popular for families and young people to attend. Rather than letting it fade into oblivion, the public have declared it is fashionable to remember the past. As an old soldier said, "A new generation are taking an interest in the battles that helped shape New Zealand's sense of nationhood." Long may we remember, for he who refuses to study the past is condemned to relive it.

The motto of the day is “Lest We Forget”, and the emblem is the red poppy. For the week before April 25th, members of the Returned Servicemen’s Association are out on the streets selling this fabric lapel pin to raise funds for the RSA. The poppy is a reference to the famous poem by Canadian John McCrae titled “In Flanders Fields.” See for text of poem.

My contribution to helping people remember not to forget is two brackets of songs in the afternoon concert. After my success at the Irish concert six weeks ago, I was given carte blanche on my choice and length of program.

The result:

First Half:
For Anzac Day (by E.D.T.)
Finlandia (by Jean Sibelius)
The Last Farewell (by Randy Sparks)

Second Half:
New Zealand! My Homeland! (by Robert J. Pope)
Recessional, or Lest We Forget (by Rudyard Kipling and Reginald de Koven)

I will place the lyrics and program notes in the concert post.

The first bracket is very hard to sing because it’s in a low register and very broad, particularly “Finlandia”. I haven’t found the secret yet for ensuring “Finlandia” is turned on full (my warm-up takes 30 minutes already). The director was delighted with my first bracket, but I knew I could do a lot better.

I stumbled through the song introductions with retired Naval officer Bill Ingram. He was almost word perfect (so far he’s been unable to get his tongue around Jean Sibelius, and keeps referring to me as Nerrily), but as he said to me later, he gets to read it all, while I’m doing it by memory. I’d better have it right by sing time, though! The singing has been my focus, so the speaking part has gained far less attention than it deserved. At least I’ve got a reasonable grip on the tone (you’ll be glad to hear that, Sarah! And thanks so much for working on it with me!). We’re not using microphones but everyone could hear us perfectly, and I didn’t feel any strain from projecting.

The strain and stress of the past month and the voice problems of the last week culminated in a stunning presentation (incl. lyric memory loss at the start of the fourth verse, for which Wendy kindly paused and gave me a prompt) of the Kipling “Recessional”. As I was singing I sensed the rustle and murmur of the venue go totally still. I had them and I knew it. A powerful feeling.

When I took my bow, the awed applause was rounded off by voices acknowledging that for those three minutes I had held them in the palm of my hand. Director Dave Murdoch climbed the platform steps to tell me as much, and as the next performers crowded onto the stage and Dad called after me that I had forgotten to collect my mp3 recorder from the front of the stage, Alan Holmes said with wink in his voice, “What’s that, then? Were you miming?!”

It's strange, though. When I listen to the recording, I'm not sure why they were impressed. Perhaps that’s something to do with my listening apparatus being inside the head that’s making the noise.

Yes, Katrina, I love your shirt, but I’ve decided after studying these pictures that it really is too big for me. For on-stage events, sparkle is good, so I’ll just have to get myself another shirt for rehearsals. Once I earn some money, that is. =/ And concert gowns entering the New Creation list shall be subjected to the sparkle test.

Hey! The above phrase, which I’ve just capitalized, would be a good label for my designs, don't you think? Narelle Elizabeth Worboys and her aims for Boutique Narelle...

ANZAC Day Variety Concert

Dannevirke Fountain Theatre
Wednesday, 25 April, 2007

Compered by LT CDR Bill Ingram (retired)

The theatre was full, a nod to the organizers altering the time from a 7pm to a 4pm start. (The majority of this event’s patrons are at an age when they do not like to leave their cosy homes after dark.)

It was an honour to stand under that flag and sing for my country, and it was even more rewarding to sing God-honouring songs in a theatre where respect for righteousness is conspicuously absent and the name of God is regularly blasphemed.

Bill and I rambled through our introductions in fine style, although Bill is probably embarrassed that there were murmurs from the audience at his interesting rendition of “Jean Sibelius”, but at least he realized that his first effort at my name wasn’t right and managed to find the correct version on the third try, while the audience chuckled and I stood there grinning. I was delighted that after his stilted rehearsal readings (which had me fretting about my speech-writing), he came to life for the real thing and helped me play the audience for some good laughs.

It went thus:


Bill: (Escorts Narelle on stage.) Please welcome Narelle Worboys.
Narelle: Last time we were together I was wearing that uniform you have on!
B: It almost fitted you, too. [Audience laughs.] That was for a couple of nautical songs at a few retirement gatherings. Today you’re going to sing the first three songs as a medley. Why don’t you tell us something about them.
N: I discovered “For Anzac Day” in a Dominion Songbook dating back to my mother’s intermediate school music classes in the 60s.
B: So the book has been around for a while, and the song even longer.
N: If you know anything about its history, please tell me.
B: [Points to self incredulously.] Can’t help you there, sorry. [Audience chuckles.] “Finlandia” is a famous anthem written by Jean Sibelius in 1899.
N: A prayer from a much-divided, fought-over piece of land.
B: “The Last Farewell” has quite a history with you, doesn’t it?
N: Yes, and it’s allowed me to meet some rather famous people. Have you heard of the New Christy Minstrels?
B: Yes, a popular band of the 60s, still performing and recording today.
N: Have you heard of Barry McGuire?
B: His song “Eve of Destruction” knocked the Beatles off the #1 spot in 1965.
N: Twenty years ago he sang “The Last Farewell” at the Dannevirke Town Hall. Captured by its haunting theme, I went home to write the lyrics in my poetry book.
B: And when you wanted to sing it at this concert, you decided to try and locate the source.
N: I’d been trying to find the music for quite a while, actually, but hadn’t thought to do a general internet search for the songwriter, whose name I knew was Randy Sparks.
B: Randy still sings with the New Christy Minstrels, and so does Barry.
N: I’ve been swapping emails with both of them about the song’s history and what they’re up to now. You will be able to hear the New Christy Minstrels’ version of “The Last Farewell” on their Greatest Hits CD which is being released in the next few weeks. [Murmur from audience.]

The marcasite bracelet I’m wearing belongs to Isabel Worboys (my mum). It was given to her on her 21st birthday. It looked good with the outfit, but I liked the sentimental value of it, too.


For Anzac Day

E. D. T.

Honour we the true and brave,
Who, their lives for us unsparing,
Danger daring, sorrow sharing,
All for King and Country gave.

May we loyal comrades prove,
Bravely for the right contending,
Truth defending, gladly lending
Life to win the world for Love.


Jean Sibelius

This is my song, O God of all the nations,A song of peace for lands afar and mine.This is my home, the country where my heart is.Here are my hopes and dreams, my holy shrine.But other hearts in other lands are beatingWith hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover,And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,A song of peace for their land and for mine.

The Last Farewell

Lyrics by Randy Sparks
Music: The Water is Wide

I’m going away at eventide
Across the wild and windy sea.
I bid you stay, stay here by my side
And share a last farewell with me.

Through snowclad mountains proud and tall
Or a thousand miles ‘cross the burning sand,
Our last farewell then will I recall
When I’m alone in a far off land.

A wandering song is all I know,
Yet I love you more, more than words can tell.
I hear the call and I’m bound to go.
I leave you now with a last farewell.

Click here to view "The Last Farewell" from the ANZAC Medley:

To my horror, there are a couple of points in the medley where I sound off key, which has reminded me of the last concert I attended at this venue when acclaimed soprano Jenna Baxter was on the verge of being off key, and young pop singer Anna Sinclair was very badly off key for a sustained fortissimo. They were both singing to a recorded soundtrack, and I supposed at the time that the foldback speakers weren’t arranged so they could hear properly. I had a live accompanist, but I still managed to sound less than accurate – at least, in the video recording from a camera which, while being less than excellent in its visuals, has so far provided reasonably faithful sound. This is a mystery into which I shall explore more purposefully before I’m asked to sing at that venue again! I do a better job recording with my mp3 player in my lounge. Please do listen to the Town Hall recordings for a more faithful representation of my sound than the Anzac clips provide.

Another interesting facet of that venue’s mechanical attributes is that despite a rehearsal with two technicians present in the lighting box, they let me walk out of the lights during “The Last Farewell.” When they didn’t fix it, I backtracked, but on the video I reckon I look like I’ve momentarily forgotten which concert I’m at and have slipped into an Irish jig. This is, of course, my perfectionist opinion which the passage of time may mellow.

Rebecca Gowan, who was operating the camera for me, came backstage and worked a major hair job on me between acts (big thanks for both those services, Rebecca!). Here’s the picture she took on our practice run the day before. Having had my hair cut short before the Irish concert, I didn’t have any long tresses to wind into anything close to 1890s style, so I was going for an 1850s look, a blend of a young Queen Victoria and the Swedish soprano, Jenny Lind, with the assistance of a $2 Shop hair piece to provide the shape and bulk.


B: (Escorts Narelle on stage.) Please welcome again Narelle Worboys. Narelle is going to sing “New Zealand, My Homeland.” Another Dominion Songbook piece, this song brings to mind New Zealand of a century ago.
N: My friend, the late John Meacheam, who was born in 1921, loved to tell me about his boyhood when Te Rehunga was covered in thick bush [murmur of recognition from audience]. The birds were so numerous that the fella standing next to him had to shout to be heard.
B: That’s a lot of birds. [Audience agrees.] This is the New Zealand that thousands of soldiers left to defend and never came back to.

New Zealand, My Homeland

Robert J. Pope

New Zealand! New Zealand! My fondly loved homeland,
Thy mountains and forests are dear to my heart.
I roam with delight o’er thy hills stern and craggy
Whose mantle of manuka perfumes the breeze.

New Zealand! New Zealand! My heart yearns towards thee.
I love thy cool glades and thy fern-shaded streams,
Thy evergreen forests, majestic and silent,
With rata’s red blossoms and clematis crowned.

New Zealand! New Zealand! May fate ne’er compel me
To long for thy charms under alien skies,
But life’s journey ended, the hope of my heart is
To mingle my earth, dear New Zealand, with thine.

[Note: I cut out the third verse which has some archaic language in it. Having it in would have threatened the piece with tedium, especially seeing as the accompaniment was very basic.]

Click here to view "New Zealand, My Homeland":

B: Narelle’s next song is called “Recessional”. Rudyard Kipling, the author of “Jungle Book”, wrote this Recessional during Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, a time that celebrated the great power of the British Empire.
N: But Kipling chose not to celebrate. He wrote a lament to the pride that births and fuels war, and a warning that while pride is near so is war. It was a prophecy of what was to come, and the song of a heart pleading with that haunting phrase…
B: “Lest We Forget.”

Recessional (Lest We Forget)

Words by Rudyard Kipling
Music by Reginald de Koven

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, Lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies,
The Captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget! Lest we forget, forget!

Far-call’d our navies melt away.
On dune and headland sinks the fire.
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, Lest we forget!

If drunk with sight of pow’r we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boasting as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the law,
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget! Lest we forget, forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!


Click here to view "Recessional":

For the finale, I joined the rest of the cast on stage singing “Now is the Hour” with the Lions Pride, opening up at the end for Gary Mitchelmore, former Army dentist, to play “Last Post” on his cornet. The curtains came together on the last notes, and we were marshaled by the stage director to move forward to take a bow, something he hadn’t told us to do at the rehearsal. By the time we were reassembled and the curtain opened again, the audience were halfway to the door! Dave started the bow anyway, and when a few noticed the curtains had opened again and the cast were doing, er, what? they dropped their coats and handbags and offered a smattering of applause. The curtains were promptly closed again, covering my giggles.

I managed the actual vocals without any hiccups, although while waiting backstage with sore, dry throat, there was no certainty of that. What is noticeable is that my body language got disconnected from the songs, making some look like an afterthought. A bit like those old movies that got out of sync with the picture. My head was there, but the rest of me seemed to have decided its job was done and it could go home.

Home and quiet is what I need for a while. A bit of hibernation. It always takes me six weeks to recover from a big project. My next concert is scheduled for the end of November. Until I start preparations for that, I’ll be focused on catering for the blossoming interest in, conducting into reality, rectifying my winter wardrobe situation, and making Operation Christmas Child – the fill-a-shoebox mission – happen in this district. Perhaps I will also find the time to prepare some music manuscripts for sale on Songuine.

Auf Wiedersehen, friends!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Town Hall Debut as Soloist

On March 19th, 2007, the Dannevirke News featured on its front page a quarter-page review of the St. Patrick's Day Irish concert at Dannevirke's recently renovated Art Deco theatre. The article was artistically written -- they have a new reporter who seems to have a reasonable grip on language and logic -- and the tenth paragraph declared:

"Narelle Worboys made her Dannevirke Town Hall debut with an effortless performance of "The Quest". Her crystal-clear voice soared easily to the back of the audience during this beautiful rendition and was appreciatively received."

View "The Impossible Dream":

The gown I wore for "The Impossible Dream" -- referred to as "The Quest" in the program -- was created for me by Deb Watkins. After 5 or 6 years of dreaming about it, I now have a Dress.

In the second half of the program (for which the reporters did not stay), I sang "The Mists of Islay", a soaring, melancholy melody which my teacher Ileana Otto-Johansen says suits my voice perfectly. The accompaniment is very pretty, and I loved the eerie, echoing quality I got from singing in the expanse of the Town Hall.

View "Mists of Islay":

I was amused to hear the compere, a high school geography teacher masquerading as Liam the Leprechaun, comment on the song's Irish charm, and asked him just how Irish does he think the Hebride Islands are? The song can't be considered purely Scottish, though, because the songwriter, Wishart Campbell, was Canadian.

I later explained to those in the audience of Scottish birth that I felt having an Irish-born great-grandmother whose daughter married my Scottish-born grandfather permitted me a certain amount of license when selecting my program.

For this Celtic lament I made a gown of pale green fabric embroidered with shamrocks, layered with a delicate crocheted shawl with long wispy fringe drooping over my fingertips. I was going for a misty look (dry ice is something that sensible singers avoid). Ileana said it made her think of fairies. Someone else said they thought of an angel with droopy wings (the strong lights made the dress look white). When I emerged from the wings, Mum heard an audible intake of breath from the two ladies seated next to her in the balcony, which she interpreted as surprised pleasure.

My outfits are distinctly different to the usual soloist garb of slinky, revealing dresses, so while I aim to match the theme of my music, I'm also making a statement for a web project that is being incubated by friends Genevieve, B'Ethel, and I -- Boutique Narelle, an internet helpline and resource for modelling modesty, the how-to of dressing with stylish practicality and feminine modesty.

The Bush Telegraph declared my performance was achieved with "no sign of nervousness", so I won't tell any secrets there. They seemed under the impression that I hadn't sung in public before. While I do have extensive performing experience with my siblings, it is quite a different thing to be alone on a large stage, faced with a large and unknown audience and solely responsible for the sound they will hear.

To give you an idea of the magnificence of our Town Hall, here are some photos of the interior taken during rehearsals. This blog doesn't accommodate sound bites, nor does my video camera do the acoustics justice. Suffice to say that the hall attracts bookings from nationally-recognized producers because it has a reputation for having the best acoustics outside of a main centre in New Zealand.

I was quite overwhelmed by the response to my singing. So many people came up to speak to me. Strangers shook my hand. People gave me hugs (thankfully that lot weren't strangers). And my Dad told me he cried when I sang "The Impossible Dream". I was very happy with what I achieved, and that people liked it so much. And I was very, very tired.

After the show, I came across all that was left of Liam the Leprechaun...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lyrics for Irish Concert

The Impossible Dream

Music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion.

In this song, Don Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it. In doing so, he captures the essence of the play and its philosophical underpinnings.

To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong,
To love pure and chaste from afar,
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!

This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far;
To fight for the right without question or pause,
To be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause!

And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest,
And the world will be better for this;
That one girl, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with her last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars.

The Mists of Islay

Music and lyrics by Wishart Campbell

Lost in the mists of Islay.

Through a veil of bygone years;
Through the exile's hidden tears;
One dear vision oft appears,
Out of the mists of Islay.

Waters break on rocky shore;
Sea winds sighing as of yore;
Sea birds crying as they soar
Over the mists of Islay.

Isle mem'ry home to me,
Nevermore thy hills I'll see.
Evermore my heart will be
Lost in the mists of Islay.

Lost in the mists of Islay.

Maestro Baby

This is my nephew Joshua in the winter of 2006.
His mother's piano is one of his favourite toys.
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