Two Shakespeare Songs

For Soprano and Piano
(2014) 5 minutes

Commissioned by Caroline MacPhie for her debut album, Love Said to Me. Premiered by Caroline MacPhie (soprano) and Joseph Middleton (piano) at a private concert in London on 9th December 2013.

N.B. Two Shakespeare Songs are also available at a lower pitch for mezzo soprano and piano. 

Programme note

Cheryl Frances-Hoad (b.1980) studied music at the Yehudi Menuhin School and won the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996 at the age of 15. Her compositions have won numerous prizes, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in 2007, and many of her works have been premiered in such prestigious venues as the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room. Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day and They bore him barefaced on the bierset two of Ophelia’s songs from Hamlet that have attracted many composers, including both Brahms and Richard Strauss. A characteristic of these powerful songs is the way in which Ophelia’s madness is rendered by music of unexpected sobriety.

© Richard Stokes


Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window
To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose and donned his clothes,
And dupped the chamber door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do’t if they come to’t.
By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.’
He answers:
‘So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,
An’ thou hadst not come to my bed.’

They Bore him Barefaced on the Bier

They bore him barefaced on the bier, 
Hey non nonny nonny, hey nonny, 
And in his grave rained many a tear – 
Fare you well, my dove!

And will ‘a not come again? 
And will ‘a not come again? 
No, no he is dead.
Go to thy deathbed.
He never will come again.

His beard was as white as snow, 
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan.
God ‘a’ mercy on his soul!

William Shakespeare


"Frances-Hoad's Two Shakespeare Songs set two of Ophelia's songs, Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day and They bore him barefaced on the bier. The first has the underlying sense of a popular song, but with disturbing elements in vocal line and a glittery piano part. The second is hauntingly eerie with slow, slightly folk-sounding vocals."

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Performance history (post-premiere)

26th August 2019 - Elizabeth Cragg and Siwan Rhys at St. Andrew's Church, Presteigne, Wales, UK - part of the Presteigne Festival

19th June 2019 - Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton at the Wigmore Hall, London, UK (2nd song only)

22nd March 2019 - Caroline MacPhie and Justine Eckhaut at The Eglise Réformée, Lyon, France

8th March 2019 - Caroline MacPhie and Nicholas Jouve at Foyer Campra, Opéra Toulon, France

24th January 2019 - Caroline MacPhie and Will Vann at Blyth Music Centre, Imperial College, London, UK

5th October 2018 - Carris Jones and Libby Burgess at The Foundling Museum, London, UK

15th August 2016 - Carris Jones and Libby Burgess at Djanogly Recital Hall, Nottingham, UK

9th July 2016 - Clare McCaldin and Libby Burgess at Ashmansworth Church, Basingstoke, UK

8th March 2016 - Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton at the Southbank Centre, London, UK as part of a live BBC Radio 3 live In Tune broadcast for International Women's Day (second song only)

11th December 2013 - Caroline Macphie and Joseph Middleton at St. Olave's Church, City of London, UK


Buy Love Said to Me, Caroline MacPhie's CD featuring Two Shakespeare Songs

Download from iTunes

Stream on Spotify

Look ​

Watch a performance of the second song, They Bore Him Barefaced on the Bier on YouTube