Friday, 28 September 2012

The Soldier's Dream or Le Reve Passe

I found an old brown envelope the other day. In it were a number of clippings I'd taken many years ago from a column called The Roamer which appeared in the Belfast Newsletter.

In one clipping were the words of a song called The Soldier’s Dream or Le Reve Passe which someone had been seeking. I remember having heard part of the march sometime before and liked it so I had kept it to look into later  -- I just didn’t think it would be 20 years later.

The words as they appeared where:
Out in the plains the weary soldiers now are sleeping,
After the heat of day the cooling breezes blow:
Over the fields the scent of new-mown hay is creeping,
Only the sentinel is pacing to and fro.

Then from afar there comes the distant sound of marching.
Rhythmical beat of soldiers' feet upon the ground;
And yet nearer they come, to the roll of the drum --
Hear the trumpets sound!

See them pass by!
There they go!  What a show -- those Guardsmen.
All hearts beat high
at the sight of this grand array;
Cheers fill the air.
They are blazing a trail to glory.
Heroes are there
who will live in song and story.

But soon the soldier's dream begins to fade away.
And now it seems a storm has turned the skies to grey:
The enemy he sees from out the shadows creep,
He suddenly awakes but all around him sleep.

And in his heart the vision lingers,
Can't you hear?
Trumpets sound?
Coming near! All around!
See them pass by.
Hear the beat of their feet enthralling;
Ready to die,
When they hear their country calling.

In his dear country now the corn to gold is turning,
And in his mind he sees again the old church tower;
Here is the house where she for whom his heart is yearning.
Patiently hopes for his returning hour by hour.

But he must tell her they must wait a little longer,
And though he knows the tears will fill her eyes of blue;
With his country at war, he must leave her once again.—
Till the fighting is through

Marching along,
there they go! What a show! those Guardsmen;
Steady and strong
they must leave all the girls behind,
Give them a cheer
for they write an immortal story.
Never a fear
as they march to Death or Glory.

But now at last the dawn is breaking o'er the hill,
The foemen have with-drawn, and all the guns are still;
No more trumpets blare, the sounds of war are past,
And laughter fills the air, the world is free at last.

Sweethearts and wives, brush all your tears away,
Don't you hear? See them near! Beat the drum:
Here they come. See them pass by! They are blazing a trail to glory,
They'll never die. They will live in song and story.

I did a search for a version of this old French marching song and found many versions on YouTube  one of which I have put at the end of this post.

I did, however, find a version by the late great Josef Locke which you can hear in the video below. There is also a set of lyrics on his appreciation site which are similar to those above but with some differences and placing some of the verses in a different order.


Here are the words given as sung by Josef:
Out on the plain the weary soldiers now are sleeping,
lulled to slumber while the evening breezes blow.
From the field the smell of new mown corn is creeping
and the sentinel is pacing too and fro'

Then all at once the sky is filled with shapes of horsemen
lit up by lightning as the dying day goes down
and the famous white horse
is directing the course
to renown

See them pass on,
those hussars those dragoons and guardsmen
glorious throng, from Austerlitz meet the eagles high
braves from fair bears
from their foe a triumphant story
steel hearts are theirs, see them riding on to glory.

See them pass on (hear the guns),
those hussars, those dragoons and guardsmen (the trumpets sound)
glorious throng (towards the Hun), from Austerlitz meet the eagles high

See them pass on, our hussars, our dragoons, our glory
E'en though they die, yet they live in song and story.

Ha ha ha ha haa! Hey!!
I'm not sure where they get the line "braves from fair bears" though. If you know I'd love to hear.

Here's a version in the original French... the lyrics can be found on the YouTube page.





UPDATE:

On the web site for Ballygowan Flute Band it is stated that the music was composed by Georges Krier and Charles Helmer and the words by Armand Foucher and was originally written in 1906. These names are confirmed on a entry in the Library of Congress.

I found a similar set of lyrics to Josepf's on a site selling a CD of old time music hall
Out on the plains the weary soldiers now are sleeping
After the heat of day the cooling breezes blow
Over the fields the smell of new mown hay is creeping
Only the sentinel is passing too and fro. 
Then from afar there comes the distant sound of marching
Rhythmical beat of soldier’s feet upon the ground
And yet nearer they come, to the sound of the drum
Hear the trumpets resound-
(Chorus) 
See them pass bye, there they go, what a show those guardsmen
Steady and strong they must leave all the girls behind
Give them a cheer for they write an immortal story
Hero’s are they. They will live in song and glory.
(repeat chorus)



 

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