I Hear You Calling Me

"I Hear You Calling Me" was a British popular song published in London in 1908 by Boosey & Co. The lyrics were by Harold Lake (a journalist writing as Harold Harford) and the music by Charles Marshall. The song became a bestseller for the tenor John McCormack.

"I Hear You Calling Me"
I hear you calling me sheet music 01.jpg
Original sheet music, 1908
Composer(s)Charles Marshall
Lyricist(s)Harold Lake


Harold Lake had been a great friend of Harry Dearth, the ballad singer, from when they had been in the choir school of Westminster Abbey together. Dearth had urged Lake to try to write lyrics, but it was not until some years after, that "I Hear You Calling Me" was written. Lake explained that behind the events which led up to its composition lay a story of youthful romance:[1]

A 16-year-old pupil teacher at an elementary school in Canterbury met a girl nearly a year his junior. Then followed three years of utter devotion as only the very young can know, then a fortnight of galloping consumption, and a lad of 19 standing on a November day grave.

Six years later, Lake woke up one morning and the words came to him; they were written in 20 minutes.[1] He was reported to have sold the song for a few pounds, but made a fortune from the sale of its gramophone recordings.[2]

Marshall, who at this time was a struggling songwriter, visited the tenor John McCormack at his lodgings and played him the piece; McCormack started to sing it, and soon became enthusiastic. He suggested that they should visit Mr. Arthur Boosey as he would be sure to publish it.[3]

The song became a bestseller for McCormack and helped to start him on the road to success.[1] He recorded it six times in total, twice for Odeon and four times for Victor.[4] The song became so closely identified with him that his wife Lily adopted it as the title of her biography of him.[3][5]


The following lyrics are taken from the sheet music published in 1908:[6][7]

Postcard with the words from verse 2. c. 1915

Verse 1:

I hear you calling me.
You called me when the moon had veiled her light,
Before I went from you into the night;
I came, – do you remember? – back to you
For one last kiss beneath the kind stars' light.

Verse 2:

I hear you calling me.
And oh, the ringing gladness of your voice!
The words that made my longing heart rejoice
You spoke, – do you remember? – and my heart
Still hears the distant music of your voice.

Verse 3:

I hear you calling me.
Though years have stretched their weary length between,
And on your grave the mossy grass is green:
I stand, – do you behold me? – listening here,
Hearing your voice through all the years between.


Below is a list of artists who have recorded the song with the recording date and record information (where known):

Listen to the songEdit

You can use the following links to listen to the song being sung by:

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Western Daily Press, "Romance and Tears of a Famous Ballad, Author of 'Hear You Calling Me' Dead", 5 Aug 1933, p. 9
  2. ^ The Brisbane Courier, "Song That Made Fortune for Writer", 7 Aug 1933, p. 13
  3. ^ a b Michael Turner and Anthony Miall, The Edwardian Song Book, Methuen, London, 1983, p. 165, ISBN 0-413-53800-1
  4. ^ a b Robert & Celia Dearling with Brian Rust, The Guinness Book of Recorded Sound, Guinness Books, 1984, p. 135, ISBN 0-85112-274-4
  5. ^ Lily McCormack, I Hear You Calling Me – The Story of John McCormack, Bruce Publishing Co., 1949
  6. ^ "I Hear You Calling Me", Sheet music, Boosey & Co., London, 1908.
  7. ^ Copyright Status: Harold Lake died on 3 Aug 1933, so the lyrics included in this article have been out of copyright in the UK since: 1 Jan 2004
  8. ^ a b c The AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music. Accessed 12 Jun 2013
  9. ^ Victor online Discography. Accessed 12 Jun 2013