Crossing the Bar
Artist & Tune
About the Song
This poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson has been set to music many times. The musical setting in Rise Again is by Rani Arbo. This setting was first recorded in 2013 by the band Salamander Crossing on their Bottleneck Dreams CD.
She wrote: “Scott’s grandmother, Elizabeth May, inspired this setting of Tennyson’s famous poem, which he wrote at age 81. The first words of the poem were the last words she spoke, at age 97, in her beloved home overlooking the Potomac River Valley.
I am overjoyed that this song has found its way to the hospice choir movement, thanks in part to Peter Amidon’s beautiful choral arrangement.” ("Scott" is her husband Scott Kessel, who now performs with her in the band Daisy Mayhem.)
Richard Thompson wrote a post about the song on Bluegrass Today.
Peter Amidon created a choral arrangement of the Arbo's musical setting, which is available in his wonderful Twenty-five anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs collection. It can also be purchased from Peter & Mary Alice's website as individual sheet music.
"Rani Arbo wrote this setting for Crossing the Bar after keeping vigil while her husband’s grandmother, Elizabeth May, was dying peacefully at home at age 97. During the last two days of her life, Mrs. May was still and quiet, but in an unexpected lucid moment she—a lifelong poetry lover—opened her eyes and clearly said, 'Sunset and evening star.' Rani and her husband Scott looked up the verse and discovered this beautiful poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson about a soul putting out to sea, and Rani composed the perfect setting for the poem. Kathy Leo, head of the Hallowell hospice choir, had given Rani’s Some Bright Morning CD to Peter Amidon and said 'Arrange Crossing the Bar!'."
Amidon's choral arrangement has been sung and recorded by countless hospice and church choirs.
The first choral video below was recorded at St. Martin in the Fields, in London, as part of their "Great Sacred Music - The Day of the Seafarer" program on June 24, 2021.