Break, Break, Break (download)


A romantic part song in the Victorian tradition, fun to sing and evocative of crashing surf and a breaking heart.

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Listen to an informal performance by the Fondue Lack Singers:

Break, break, break (Tennyson)



Break, Break, Break (Tennyson)

No. 1 of Three Romantic Part Songs, for SATB quartet or chorus unaccompanied
Text—Alfred Tennyson
A part song in the English tradition of Sullivan, Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Based on one of Tennyson’s most famous poems, this is a part song about the death of a love, but also about the way life continues, nonetheless. May be sung chorally, or, in the Victorian tradition, by four singers around a table.
Duration: 2′
6 pages


Break, break, break,
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

–Alfred Tennyson (1850-1892)

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