'ERE THE LAMPS ARE LIT
 
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In the mighty city, ere the lamps are lit
Mark the forms like shadows through the darkness flit
Beauty, pride and riches, poverty and rags
Hungry wretches jostling those with money bags
Pressing ever onward in the race of life
Squalid woe and grandeur, happiness and strife.

Refrain: Stand aside in the gloom and watch
Faces that come and go
Some with a tale of hopes that fail
Others that gleam and glow
Beggars in rags and merchants grand
On through the twilight fit
Many the hearts that are nigh to break
'Ere the lamps are lit.


Comes a heavy actor, once a man of fame
Until 'beer and skittles' robbed him of his name
In fine frenzy rolling are his lustrous eyes
And his mouth is watering as yon pub he 'spies
Nearer, nearer, nearer edging to the door
Stands upon the threshold to moralise once more.

Refrain: 'Just a tanner, and so ha, ha,
So it has come to this
Once unto me Irving bent his knee
Now I'm a thing they hiss
Ah, once a star at Drury Lane,
Now 'super' at the Brit.
Never mind, two of unsweetened cold
'Ere the lamps are lit.'


See the feeble footsteps, eyes that brim with tears
And wan features shrunken more with grief than years
Comes a woman, Woman! Did I call her? Nay
She is but a girl still, grown old in a day
Now she's fainting, famished, great sobs swell her breast
On a snow clad doorstep she sinks down to rest.

Refrain: Musing over the days long flown,
Lying there in the snow
Thinking of days ere ruin came
In the dead 'long ago'.
Only a prayer, then soft her soul
Out of the world doth flit
Ah, may the snow cleanse thy sin, poor soul
'Ere the lamps are lit.


Where the lights are gleaming in that mansion grand
And the merry masquers whirling to the band
Riches, worth and beauty fantastically arrayed
All have joined together in bel masquerade
But outside the mansion hid by gloom almost
Stands a stern-faced stranger like a ghastly ghost.

Refrain: 'Ha! you villain, I have you'... 'Off!
Loose your hold'... 'Never, cur!'...
'Leave go my throat!'... 'No, I'll kill you, Aye
Kill you as you killed her'
Poor man and gentleman struggling there
Steel through the gloom doth flit
And a rich man's blood for his crime has paid
'Ere the lamps are lit.
 
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Written and composed by J. P. Harrington & George Le Brunn
Performed by Vesta Tilley (1864-1952)
 
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