Charlie Skarbek

Charlie Skarbek (Charles John Skarbek, born 1953)[1] is a singer, record producer, composer and lyricist. He has worked with many celebrated musicians from both the classical and popular fields.


Despite flourishing from circa 1985 to date, there is little biographical detail available on Skarbek. He has been one of the more significant éminences grises in British popular music. He never features as principal performer, but his name nevertheless appears in the credits for numerous tracks and albums in this time. His particular speciality, of putting pop lyrics to famous classical musical themes and hymn tunes, may offend purists.[2] However, it has brought awareness of this music to millions (see references to classical pieces in the list below). He is also noted for providing 'anthems' relating to sporting events.[3]

"World in Union"Edit

He is perhaps best known[4][5][6] for the lyrics he set to music originally from the central section of Jupiter, the fourth movement from Gustav Holst's suite The Planets to create "World in Union".[7] The tune, also known as "Thaxted", had previously been used for the patriotic song "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and in various other word-settings.[8]

Skarbek made this setting in response to a commission by World Rugby for the World Cup in 1991[9] and it has been used as the tournament's anthem on many occasions since.[4][10] Dame Kiri Te Kanawa recorded the first version of this song for the 1991 Rugby World Cup; Shirley Bassey and Bryn Terfel recorded a version in 1999; Hayley Westenra recorded a version for The Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, and Paloma Faith recorded a version of the song for ITV's coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It also features in the soundtrack to the film 'Invictus'.

Selected other worksEdit

Skarbek's other works include:


  1. ^ An Observance for Commonwealth Day 2015 Retrieved 5 February 2018
  2. ^ Article 'classical-themes-that-gild-the-great-sporting-occasions' The Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2018
  3. ^ Rinehart,R. "Performing’sport: re-visioning sport practices in an age of global discord." Seminar series: School of Physical Education. Dunedin: University of Otago, September, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Article: "Rugby World Cup: fans petition ITV to replace 'truly awful' Paloma Faith theme music" re rugby world cup theme music The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2018
  5. ^ a b c d Article covering works of Charlie Skarbek- (Skarbek listed variously as 'Lyricist', 'Composer' and 'Writer') Retrieved 5 February 2018
  6. ^ a b c Article re Charlie Skarbek, Retrieved 5 February 2018
  7. ^ a b c d e Compositions by Charlie Skarbek -list, Retrieved 5 December 2019
  8. ^ What are the lyrics and history of the Rugby World Cup theme, ‘World In Union’? 27 September 2019, accessed 2 September 2020
  9. ^ 'A las chicas les gusta más que a los chicos y otras curiosidades del Mundial de rugby' (Girls like (the Rugby World Cup) more than boys and other curiosities of the Rugby World Cup), see section 'La Banda Sonora Original' Retrieved 5 February 2018
  10. ^ Ден преди началото на Мондиала в Бразилия ви представяме всички официални и неофициални химни на световните първенства по футбол от 1962 г. досега. (The day before the start of the Brazilian World Cup, we present you all the official and unofficial hymns since the 1962 world football championships.) Retrieved 5 February 2018
  11. ^ Sydney Morning Herald page from 1983 including section re Skarbek and Tucker in Midnight Blue Google News. Retrieved 5 February 2018
  12. ^ Middle-aged men are always wrong: lunch with Sir Tim Smit 7 August 2020,, accessed 2 September 2020
  13. ^ Mireille Mathieu Et Barry Manilow – Don't Talk To Me Of Love, Retrieved 5 December 2019