A Century of English Song


Members will be delighted to know that we have seven songs from the complete A Century of English Song volumes in the ABRSM’s new singing syllabus starting in January 2018.

Grade 5
The Early Morning. Graham Peel. Volume 8

Grade 6
A Melancholy Song Anthony Hopkins Volume 1
How should I your true love know? Roger Quilter Volume 1
Pot and Kettle. Clive Pollard. Volume 10

Grade 7
Love is a Sickness. Patricia Williams. Volume 10

Grade 8
Mother I will have a husband. Gordon Jacob. Volume 4


A Century of English Song

It is with great pleasure that the AESS is able to announce that the last three volumes in the Century of English Song series are now available online from Goodmusic


To order the volumes 8-10 at £10.50 each, please visit the relevant page


The AESS if immensely grateful to all those who have been involved in the long period of preparation for the new volumes; Michael Pilkington, Garry Humphreys, Sarah Leonard, David Good.

The volumes include the winning songs by Michael Betteridge and Rose Miranda Hall from the 2013 AESS Centenary Song Composition Prize.

We trust that all teachers and performers will find the volumes to be of great use in creating recitals and examinations.

Volumes 1-7, originally published by Thames, can be purchased at Musicroom.com


The three new “A Century of English Song” also appear on Amazon.co.uk at

List of songs in volume VIIIaess008

List of Songs in Volume IX 


List of Songs in Volume X


Details of the all the volumes can be found below:

Contents of Volumes 1-10

Index of Volumes 1-10

An introduction to A Century of English Song

The Association of English Singers and Speakers was founded (as the Society of English Singers) in 1913. During the 1920s the Society compiled and initiated the publication of Fifty Modern English Songs, whose preface states that this was the first time a collection of songs by contemporary British composers had been published in book form. This volume now forms part of A Heritage of Twentieth Century British Song (also produced with the collaboration of the Association), published by Boosey & Hawkes Limited in 1977, and currently available in four volumes.

The passage of time allows knowledge to increase and perceptions and perspectives to change, and it seemed timely that the Association should reflect these changes with the compilation of a new collection. The emergence of a large body of music worthy of consideration, and the need to produce the material in an affordable, practicable format for a range of voice types, suggested that there should be an ongoing series of volumes. This is a Century in more than one sense, for not only is the period covered approxi- mately the last hundred years: the expectation has been to offer approximately one hundred songs, in ten volumes.

Unlike its distinguished predecessor, which is confined to the output of one publisher, this anthology draws on many publishers and also on previously unpublished material. There is no duplication with A Heritage, which this new work aims to supplement, not to rival.

In embarking on a venture such as this, a number of general guidelines had to be set, the main ones being:

  • –  the exclusion of readily available songs, particularly those in complete or comprehensive collections (such as the songs of John Ireland and Gerald Finzi);
  • –  the exclusion of folk song arrangements;
  • –  the exclusion of songs from song cycles (but not song sets);
  • –  the use of the composers’ original keys, where known;
  • –  the grouping of songs aimed at a particular voice, with variety and balance to provide the ingredients of a recital programme;
  • –  the inclusion of introductory notes to ‘place’ the music in context and to give practical encouragement to singers to explore the composers’ other songs.

The series includes songs by composers who may be little known outside specialist circles but who have achieved something distinctive in this field. Many of these songs, and some by well-known composers, have long been out of print. Although several publishers now offer an authorized reproduction service, the problem is often knowing of the existence of a song, rather than of obtaining a copy of it.

To keep costs to a minimum, in earlier volumes use was in many cases made of the original engraving (corrected where necessary), even where this led to a somewhat uneven result visually. In volumes 8 to 10, all the music has been reset and newly edited by Michael Pilkington. The intention is to get these volumes into the hands of performers of all ages at an economic price. There is, above all, a simple missionary purpose: to enthuse, encourage and (in the best sense) educate.

Editorial committee:

John Bishop (vols. 1-7)
Garry Humphreys (vols. 1-10) Sarah Leonard (vols. 8-10) Michael Pilkington (vols. 1-10)

September 1993 (rev. 2016)