Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ursula Wood

Letter No.: 
[March 1943]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

My Dear

Here is all about Böhme.
I have found a translation of von Himmel hoch which I will send you the last 2 verses (but one) are obviously the same as “O my dear heart”.
- I still feel rather like getting you to add two verses to that poem.
- The German verse I quote is not very inspiring!1 
I am to see a private show of my Land for the People film2 at 5A Upper St Martin's Lane at 11.30 on Thursday - wd you like to come?

easy 3 part songs3
Breathe ye soft winds. Whittaker
Winds gently whisper (Novello 160 Wardour St)
Hark how the Drum.  Donizetti (Novello)

more advanced
Soldiers chorus (Faust) Gounod (Novello)
Sound the trumpet (2 parts) Purcell (Augener)

My Dear - It will be lovely to see you tomorrow. I hope it will be weather for the green frock & the silk stockings & the high heeled shoes - But you cd always travel in the clodhoppers & change here?4
Love RVW


Franz M Böhme
Altdeutsches Liederbuch
Leipsig 1877

No 524 Kinderwiegenlied

Lasst uns das Kindlein wiegen
Das Herz zum kripplein biegen

Lasst uns in Geist erfreuen
Das Kindlein venereien
O Jesulein süss

[Let us rock the little child
Let us bow our hearts to the little crib
Let us rejoice in spirit
to bless the little child
O sweet little Jesus


Paderborn song book  1609
Constance   "        "      1613
Cologne      "        "      1619
Mainz          "        "      1628
Carver         "        "      1625 (1631)
Speier         "         "      1631
Rheinfels    "         "      1666
Wurzburg   1677"         "      1649
Munster     "         "      
von Haxthausen (1850 Paderborn)
"Geistlicher Volkslieder (No 60)
Hoffman (von Fellersleben?)  No 279.

1. Ursula did write two verses for ‘O my dear heart’ which VW set using the German carol tune ‘Lasst uns das Kindlein wiegen’ as he planned. The manuscript only came to light in 2008 in private possession and was published by Oxford University Press with Ursula's text in 2009.
2. The People's Land, a film dealing with the work of the National Trust. First shown 17 March 1943. Catalogue of Works 1943/3.
3. Note from UVW: she must have been asking about partsongs on behalf of someone else. The references to German songbooks must also be in response to an enquiry now unknown.
4. UVW noted that VW hated flat shoes except for country walks and gardening, a sentiment she shared.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/13, ff. 42-43
General notes: 

Written on the reverse of a circular from the Bristol Philharmonic Society dated 10th September 1941. The private screening of the The People's Land did not take place until 17 March 1943 (which wasn't a Thursday) - see Catalogue of Works. It clearly belongs with VWL1840. Note in the hand of UVW confirms 1943 as the year.

Original database number: