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"Forty Years On" is a song written by Edward Ernest Bowen and John Farmer in 1872. It is the school anthem for Harrow School and was adopted by WGHS as well as Woodford County High School for Girls to serve as their School Song.

It is specifically about life at school and is meant to make present pupils think of what what it will be like in forty years when they return to their old school, and to remind 'Old Boys' (obviously a problem there!) about their school life.

Forty years on, when afar and asunder

Parted are those who are singing today,

When you look back, and forgetfully wonder

What you were like in your work and your play,

Then, it may be, there will often come o’er you,

Glimpses of notes like the catch of a song –

Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,

Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along,

Follow up! Follow up! Follow up

Follow up! Follow up

Till the field ring again and again,

With the tramp of the twenty-two men.

Follow up! Follow up!

Routs and discomfitures, rushes and rallies,

Bases attempted, and rescued, and won,

Strife without anger and art without malice, –

How will it seem to you, forty years on?

Then, you will say, not a feverish minute

Strained the weak heart and the wavering knee,

Never the battle raged hottest, but in it.

Neither the last nor the faintest, were we!

Follow up! etc....

Oh the great days. in the distance enchanted,

Days of fresh air, in the rain and the sun,

How we rejoiced as we struggled and panted –

Hardly believable, forty years on!

How we discoursed of them, one with another,

Auguring triumph, or balancing fate,

Loved the ally with the heart of a brother,

Hated the foe with a playing at hate!

Follow up etc.

Forty years on, growing older and older,

Shorter in wind, as in memory long,

Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder,

What will it help you that once you were strong?

God give us bases to guard or beleaguer,

Games to play out, whether earnest or fun;

Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,

Twenty, and thirty, and forty years on!

Follow up etc.

As early as 1916 it was felt that the school needed an original School Song of its own, and so a competition was launched, with a prize offered for the pupil or Old Girl whose poem was adopted for this purpose. Unfortunately nothing was submitted which was deemed to be of a sufficiently high standard by the leadership team and so renditions of "Forty Years On" continued.

Miss de Zouche had never seemed to think it inappropriate that the song had been written for a boys' public school and was, according to Mary Kille (nee Mackay), "patently oblivious to our giggles as we sang 'visions of boyhood floating before us'!"

Miss Scargill, however, was very aware of the sniggering and changed the anthem in her first week at the school to something much less exciting to the adolescent schoolgirl mind. The words chosen were those of the Athenian oath of fidelity to the city state, a copy of which was always given to each Prefect when she took office.

The music was composed by Margaret Deans, with help from her form. Speech Day on 18th July 1957 opened with the singing of this new school song for the very first time.

Since that time various Head Teachers have moved to change the School Song, but we love it, don't we??

It is not only sung at the end of every term, Carol Service and Speech Day, but also on every coach trip.... the stamping being a vital part....

We will never bring disgrace to this our city

By any act of dishonesty or cowardice,

Nor ever desert our suffring comrades in the ranks.

We will fight for the ideals and the sacred things of our city both alone and with many.

We will revere and obey the city's laws

And do our best to incite a like reverence

And respect to those around us

Who are prone to anul them and set them at naught.

We will strive unceasingly to quicken a public sense of civic duty.

Thus in all these ways, we will transmit out city.

Not only, not less, but to a great extent better

And more beautiful than it was transmitted to us!

Ludus Supra Praemium

The words of our school song are the words of the Athenian Oath. The Athenian Oath was recited by the citizens of Athens, Greece over 2,000 years ago. It is frequently referenced by civic leaders in modern times as a timeless code of civic responsibility.

 

 

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Disclaimer: The information given on this website is believed to be accurate. However the webmistress is human, and mistakes can be made... just let me know if you spot one. Accuracy of information in articles that have been submitted for publication are the reponsibilty of the author, they are reproduced in good faith. The opinions expressed in them are those of the individuals concerned and do not in any way represent policies of the school or OGU.