The Harvests of Time
Eliza Flower (1803–1846)
for solo voice and piano
performed by
Laurence Panter – Tenor & Piano

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Laurence Panter

A young white man with short black hair is singing. He is wearing a floral shirt and standing in front of a wall covered in green foliage

Laurence Panter joined ELECTRIC VOICE THEATRE in 2021, appearing in “Working from Home” at Stroud Green Festivalour 1st live performance since the pandemic struck. Since then he has been regularly contributing to our virtual recordings and zoom performances. Last year, he ventured out with us once more for Mary Anning and her Sisters in Science at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival and “The Somerville Connexion” at Stroud Green Festival. He is not only a very fine tenor and pianist, but also composes music and is currently touring as musical director for Barefoot Opera’s fantastic production of “La Cenerentola”.
We are delighted to announce that Laurence will be singing and playing with us for our next performance – “Flowers of the Seasons – Politics, Power and Poverty” celebrating Eliza Flower at Conway Hall, London, on October 27th 2023. You can book tickets here.

Sepia drawing of the head of the composer surrounded by flowers

Eliza Flower (1803 – 1846)

Tinted lithograph of a drawing by Mrs E Bridell Fox, 1898/99 courtesy of Conway Hall Ethical Society

In nature the flower of this month is Gladiolus which seems to have all kinds of meanings attached to it from strength to healing, love and remembrance. A field of gladiolus with a white one in focus

“The Harvests of Time”
“Songs of the Months”
published by A J Novello, December 1834

The short editorial introduction explains that each song appeared throughout 1834 in the Monthly Repository – a publication associated with South Place Chapel where Flower’s life and work was based.

We are releasing each song in its allotted month during 2023. Please go to our Flower of the Month page for more information and to hear all of the songs we’ve recorded so far.

“The Harvests of Time”
 Harriet Martineau

Beneath this starry arch,
Nought resteth or is still;
But all things hold their march
As if by one great will.
Moves one, move all;
Hark to the foot-fall!
On, on, for ever.

Yon sheaves were once but seed;
Will ripens into deed;
As cave-drops swell the streams,
Day thoughts feed nightly dreams;
And sorrow tracketh wrong,
As echo follows song.
Hark to the foot-fall!
On, on, for ever.

By night, like stars on high,
The hours reveal their train;
They whisper and go by;
I never watch in vain.
Moves one, move all;
Hark to the foot-fall!
On, on, for ever.

They pass the cradle head,
And there a promise shed;
They pass the moist new grave,
And bid rank verdure wave;
They bear through every clime
The harvests of all time.
Hark to the foot-fall!
On, on, for ever.

A black and white image of a Victorian woman, she is sitting with a quill pen writing in a book but looking up to her left. She is wearing a dark dress with a white blouse fastened at the neck with a brooch

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)  (Image Wikimedia CC)

The words of the song were written by Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), journalist, writer, sociologist, abolitionist and political economist.

Martineau and Flower were probably the most powerful protest song writing partnership of the C19th. Many of their songs became popular anthems sung by thousands of protesting workers in the streets, most of whom would have had no idea that their voices were carrying the words and music of two young ladies.

The August Song of the Month was for a quite different market – the middle classes – a song to delight them in their evenings at home. And there is much to delight here – their close bond inspired some of Flower’s most detailed and beautiful musical settings. The word painting is delicate with almost a sense of fun in the piano, and the melody is catchy and very rewarding to sing. But, for those who choose to hear it, there is a vision of the collective will of humanity going ever onwards, a great force joined together, interconnected and dependent on each other and the earth itself for all generations. A message indeed for all time.

This great creative partnership came to an untimely end in the very year that the Songs of the Months were published. Martineau was unable to deal with the scandal that ensued when Flower set up home with William Fox – the preacher at the Unitarian Chapel in Finsbury – who had left his wife, taking his children with him.

The two women were separated until a few years before Eliza’s death, when there was a reconciliation, but not unfortunately in time for their collaboration to flourish once more.

the electric voice theatre logo - just the words on some spikes of colour

raising the profile of music by women