Songs of the First World War

WW1 Song Sheets

Music is a hugely popular art form, and was particularly significant during the First World War. Song sheets like these were produced so that people could play popular music at home. Songs expressed a variety of emotions during the war. 

The two song sheets pictured here express very different things. 

‘God Keep You is My Prayer’ 

This song (music sheets pictured above) focuses on concern for a loved one who is far from home and hope for their safe return.

(Listen to this song via a YouTube clip by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page).

‘Only to hear your voice again.
And to have you near.
To hold you in my arms again.
And wipe away my tear.
‘God keep you is my prayer.
Watch over you with care
And guide you once more to me
With love unabating
I shall by waiting
God keep you is my prayer.
‘Only to see your smile again
That to me is blest
To know that you’ve returned again,
For evermore to rest.’

[Repeat refrain]

‘Why Don’t you Join the Army?’ 

This song by George R. Sims (song title page and printed song lyrics pictured above) calls on men listening to the song to join up: 

Won’t you join the army…/ Wont’ you, won’t you, won’t you, won’t you come and join with me…’. 

What might this song suggest about attitudes towards army recruitment at the time?

Use the links below to learn more about music during the First World War and discover the 'top ten' songs of the First World War (via the Guardian link)!

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

Document icon Learning article provided by: Leeds Museum Discovery Centre |  Arts Award Supporter | 
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