FWCC acquires permissions to publish the Ballad of George Fox

01 January 2024

 

FWCC has acquired the permissions to publish the words to the Ballad of George Fox in his 400th birthday year. 

Also known as There’s a Light that is Shining or simply The George Fox song, it was written by 20th century folk musician Sydney Carter, best known as the composer of Lord of the Dance, When I Needed a Neighbour and One More Step Along the World I Go,  all of which have become anthems for Christian compassion.

Although Carter was not a Quaker, he knew Friends well, having served with the Friends Ambulance Unit in World War Two.

The song will not form a part of the World Quaker Songbook due to be published later his year, as we hope this will have a life beyond 2024. We have however obtained permissions to sing it at the World Plenary itself.

The Ballad of George Fox

There’s a light that is shining in the heart of a man,

There’s a light that was shining when the world began.

There’s a light that is shining in the Turk and the Jew

And a light that is shining, friend, in me and in you.

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

“In my old leather breeches and my shaggy, shaggy locks,

I am walking in the glory of the light,” said Fox.

‘If we give you a pistol, will you fight for the Lord?’

‘But you can’t kill the devil with a gun or a sword.’

‘Will you swear on the Bible?’ ‘I will not,’ said he,

‘For the truth is more holy than the book to me.’

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

“In my old leather breeches and my shaggy, shaggy locks,

I am walking in the glory of the light,” said Fox.

There’s an ocean of darkness and I drown in the night

Till I come through the darkness to the ocean of light,

You can lock me in prison but the light will be free,

‘And I walk in the glory of the light,’ said he.

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

Walk in the light, wherever you may be

“In my old leather breeches and my shaggy, shaggy locks,

I am walking in the glory of the light,” said Fox.

c Stainer and Bell, 1964

The full definitive text , including all verses, both versions of the chorus, and a translation in Swedish is linked here.