Joseph Rebman

Harpist and Composer

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Above recording includes Lauren Hughes, flute, Cassie Keogh, clarinet, Abraham Wallace, piano, Catherine Rinderknecht, violin, and Paula SantaCruz, cello, conducted by Mervin Tay. Mark Billy was the baritone soloist. Recorded live from "Joseph Rebman MM composition recital". March 31st, 2015.

Above live recording from "In Their Own Words", a production by The Secret Opera on April 23rd, 2016 of staged song-cycles. Being a staged production, some sounds from the staging are heard in the recording.

Instrumentation: flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet in A, violin, cello, piano, and baritone voice soloist.

Written: Summer 2014 while in residence at the Rocky Ridge Music Center, Estes Park, CO.

Duration: 14-15 min

Premiere: Premiered by the RRMC Faculty Ensemble in recital on July 25th, 2014, with Thomas Erik Angerhofer, baritone soloist.

Additional Versions:  Baritone and Piano,  Tenor and Piano

Program Notes:

    A. E. Housman was an English composer active in the early 20th century. Housman was an early figure in LGBT representation in the arts, though his works had to be largely cryptic in nature due to the culture at the time. One of his famous poems was written after Oscar Wilde was arrested for "gross indecency" in 1897, in which Housman questions why a youth is being arrested for "the colour of his hair," a characteristic he had no control over. Housman's brother wrote a biography of him that was published after his death, which attributed the inspiration for many of his works to be his unrequited love for his university roommate, Moses Jackson. Housman's second collection of poems was created specifically because Jackson was on his deathbed and Housman wanted him to see these poems.

    Housman's first book, A Shopshire Lad, was publish in 1896, and his second, Last Poems,was published in 1910 specifically for Moses Jackson. After Housman's death, his brother published two more books of his previously unpublished poetry as More Poems and Collected Poems of 1936 and 1939.

    These seven poems come from Housman's first three books of poetry. While the majority of his poems are not as obviously from a gay perspective, I chose these seven for their clear perspective. I then arranged them into a new narrative that ties them all together, even though they are from three different collections.

I. He Would Not Stay
II. Shake Hands
III. The Street Sounds
IV. If Truth in Hearts
V. Oh were He and I Together
VI. When He's Returned
VII. When I was One and Twenty


Text: (Downloadable PDF)


He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
  He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
  And went with half my life about my ways.


Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over;
  I only vex you the more I try.
All's wrong that ever I've done or said,
And nought to help it in this dull head:
  Shake hands, here's luck, good-bye.
But if you come to a road where danger
  Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share,
Be good to the lad that loves you true
And the soul that was born to die for you,
  And whistle and I'll be there.


The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,
  And out we troop to see:
A single redcoat turns his head,
  He turns and looks at me.
My man, from sky to sky's so far,
  We never crossed before;
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,
  We're like to meet no more;
What thoughts at heart have you and I
  We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
  Soldier, I wish you well.



If truth in hearts that perish
  Could move the powers on high,
I think the love I bear you
  Should make you not to die.
Sure, sure, if stedfast meaning,
  If single thought could save,
The world might end to-morrow,
  You should not see the grave.
This long and sure-set liking,
  This boundless will to please,
-- Oh, you should live for ever,
   If there were help in these.
But now, since all is idle,
   To this lost heart be kind,
Ere to a town you journey
   Where friends are ill to find.








Oh were he and I together,
  Shipmates on the fleeted main,
Sailing through the summer weather
  To the spoil of France or Spain.
Oh were he and I together,
  Locking hands and taking leave,
Low upon the trampled heather
  In the battle lost at eve.
Now are he and I asunder
  And asunder to remain;
Kingdoms are for others' plunder,
  And content for other slain.


When he's returned I'll tell him -- oh,
  Dear fellow, I forgot:
Time was you would have cared to know,
  But now it matters not.
I mourn you, and you heed not how;
  Unsaid the word must stay;
Last month was time enough, but now
  The news must keep for aye.
Oh, many a month before I learn
  Will find me starting still
And listening, as the days return,
  For him that never will.
Strange, strange to think his blood is cold
  And mine flows easy on:
And that straight look, that heart of gold,
  That grace, that manhood gone.
The word unsaid will stay unsaid
  Though there was much to say;
Last month was time enough: he's dead,
  The news must keep for aye.

When I was one-and-twenty
  I heard a wise man say,
`Give crowns and pounds and guineas
  But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
  But keep your fancy free.'
But I was one-and-twenty
  No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
  I heard him say again,
`The heart out of the bosom
  Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
  And sold for endless rue.'
And I am two-and-twenty
  And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

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