Boosey & Hawkes

Old Joe Has Gone Fishing

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Benjamin Britten
Round for SATB chorus and piano

Extract (much arranged from both chorus and solo parts) from Act 1 scene 2 of Peter Grimes.

This arrangement published 1947/48, arranger unknown

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

Difficulty level: 2-3

The lively nature of this wonderfully exuberant piece makes a perfect foil for the Song of the Fishermen described above. It is much more challenging to sing but is well worth the effort of learning it. Choirs lap it up because it is such fun. It is a round, and the first challenge is the 7/4 time signature - effectively 1/2; 1/2; 1/2/3. There are four melodies with their associated words. The first is 'Old Joe has gone fishing and Young Joe has gone fishing and You Know has gone fishing and found them a shoal'. The second - completely different - is 'Pull them in in han'fuls and in canfuls and in panfuls' with long notes. The third is a fragmented phrase: 'Bring them in sweetly/Gut them completely/Pack them up neatly/Sell them discreetly'. Lastly comes the most difficult of the four: 'O haul away!' This is given a rising scale after a tie and a long held note after which the scale falls again. The timing over the ties can cause problems. When all four melodies are put together it is a real tour-de-force and the final page with the top sopranos sailing up to a long top Bb and the basses right up on an Eb gives it a terrific 'wow' factor. The divisi sopranos on the last page is the only time parts divide in the piece.

Duration: 2 minutes

Paul Spicer, Lichfield, 2011