National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) is delighted to release a new recording of the popular World War II song, ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’, to mark the occasion of the 77th anniversary of D-day and the Battle of Normandy, on 6 June 2021.

‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ was written by celebrated Welsh composer Ivor Novello in the 1940s as World War II was coming to an end. He wrote the piece for the musical romance ‘Perchance to Dream’ which ran in West End theatres from 1945-1948. This new piece is arranged and conducted by Ben Parry and performed by the impressive voices of NYCGB Fellowship’s Michael McCartan, Benedict Goodall, Shivani Rattan and Elizabeth Leather, along with 2020 Fellow James Botcher. 

A song about unity, it talks about the separation brought about by wartime and has a more recent resonance with the separation and sense of isolation experienced by families and communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lyrics describe the yearning of couples parted during the war, soon to be reunited and is evocative of the joy they will feel when together again. It also captures the simple beauty of the English countryside in spring with its lilac blossom.

Although you’re far away and life is sad and grey, we’ll learn to love anew, the simple joys we knew.

We’ll soon forget our care and pain, and find such lovely things to share again.

Continuing the theme of unity and coming together, the release of the piece comes a few days ahead of the G7 summit held in Cornwall in the UK from 11-13th June 2021, which seeks to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future for all.

NYCGB is also marking the occasion by re-sharing its’ moving recording of Hymn to the Fallen, the iconic opener to the 'Saving Private Ryan' soundtrack suite by John Williams. This arrangement for concert band and voices was recorded in Summer 2019 by the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and Central Band of the RAF.

Ben Parry Said:

We wanted to mark the occasion with these two pieces. ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ speaks of the joy of being reunited with loved ones, a theme that many will relate to at the current time. We also remember those who gave their lives for the next generation through the moving ‘Hymn to the Fallen’. We hope that these pieces serve to look back in honour to generations past, and forward to brighter times ahead.

Listen to We'll Gather Lilacs

Listen to Hymn to the Fallen