Roses of Picardy
Roses of Picardy is a wartime ballad written by lyricist Frederick Weatherly
Frederick Weatherly
Frederic Edward Weatherly was an English lawyer, author, lyricist and broadcaster. He is estimated to have written the lyrics to at least 3,000 popular songs, among the best-known of which are the sentimental ballad Danny Boy set to the tune Londonderry Air, the religious "The Holy City", and the...

 while he was an army officer in 1916. Set to music by Haydn Wood
Haydn Wood
Haydn Wood was a 20th century English composer and a respected violinist.-Life:Haydn Wood was born in the Yorkshire town of Slaithwaite on 25 March 1882...

, it was one of the most famous songs from World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Introduced by soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

 Elsie Griffin
Elsie Griffin
Elsie Griffin was an English opera singer, best known for her performances in the soprano roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company....

, the piece quickly became popular, and remained so for many years after its initial release. British soldiers had sung it when they enlisted for the Front in France and Flanders. Weatherley reportedly wrote the lyric after he had conceived an affection for a French widow while receiving protection at her home in France. Among the earliest commercial recordings were those by Ernest Pike
Ernest Pike
Ernest Pike was an English tenor of the early 20th century who recorded under his own name and variously as Herbert Payne, Arthur Brett, Eric Courtland, Arthur Gray, Bernard Moss, Dick Denton, Charles Nelson, Allan Dale and Richard Pembroke; - Herbert Payne being the one most commonly used...

 in 1917 and John McCormack in 1919. After WWII, American Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.He was one of the first important soloists in jazz , and was perhaps the first notable jazz saxophonist...

, a long-time France resident, popularised a swing version, and Yves Montand
Yves Montand
-Early life:Montand was born Ivo Livi in Monsummano Terme, Italy, the son of poor peasants Giuseppina and Giovanni Livi, a broommaker. Montand's mother was a devout Catholic, while his father held strong Communist beliefs. Because of the Fascist regime in Italy, Montand's family left for France in...

, among others, sang it as a ballad. As late as 1967 Vince Hill
Vince Hill
Vince Hill is an English traditional pop music singer, songwriter and record producer.-Biography:...

 had a "top 20
Top 20
20 #1's Now is a 2007 compilation album by various artists and presented by reggaeton production duo Luny Tunes, released on November 20, 2007, by Machete Music.-Tracklist:# Welcome to My Crib – Randy "Nota Loka"...

" hit with the song, which was still being performed in the first decade of the 21st century.

There was also speculation that the Germans were also allegedly singing it in their own language, including the Bavarian Corps, which was Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's rifle regiment.

External links

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