I first heard the Kings Singers when I looked up a YouTube version of a madrigal song called “Fair Phyllis,” which I sang with a madrigal group in high school. There were sixteen of us, four on each part: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The girls wore long, black dresses in concert, and the guys were in black suits. We performed out in the community, as well as in concert at school. The madrigal experience was a highlight of my high school years.
I loved listening to the Kings Singers’ all-male version, with a counter-tenor singing the soprano part. “Fair Phyllis” was the one song from my madrigal days that had stuck in my memory, and I was able to sing along with it without dropping a note. I also love their version of the madrigal staple, “Il est bel et bon,” sung in French, which they sing at a remarkable speed without sacrificing clarity. But when I checked out some of their other recordings, I fell in love with “You Are the New Day,” written in a modern style, in 1978.
John David wrote, “The inspiration for New Day was quite simple; I had just had a major blow in my personal life, and was sitting alone late at night on the settee feeling very low, and watching an ominous story on the news about the very real possibility of nuclear war.
“I started singing to the (hopefully) soon-to arrive New Day like it was an entity, that would rescue me from the depths. If the sun came up and the birds started singing as usual then I could believe that it really was the new day in which life would go on, and in which hope would survive.
“The tune and the words popped into my head at the same time, and it was all written in about 10 minutes, which is why (to me at least) it’s not perfect. But I didn’t feel I had the right to change anything.”
The original version of the song was performed by the group “Airwaves.” This link has both the Airwaves version (scroll down) and the Kings Singers version (top of page).
“You Are the New Day” (Music by John David. Arrange for the Kings Singers by Peter Knight)
I will love you more than me and more than yesterday
if you can but prove to me you are the new day.
Send the sun in time for dawn, let the birds all hail the morning.
Love of life will urge me say, you are the new day.
When I lay me down at night, knowing we must pay,
thoughts occur that this night might stay yesterday.
Thoughts that we as humans small could slow worlds and end it all
lie around me where they fall, before the new day.
One more day when time is running out for ev’ryone,
like a breath I knew would come, I reach for a new day.
Hope is my philosophy, just needs days in which to be,
love of life means hope for me, born on a new day.
You are the new day. You are the new day.
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Some people can see a spiritual meaning in the song, and so can I, but I can also see this as a love song to a new love, in whom the person places hope for the future. 🙂