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Crossing the Bar McMp102-1COVER

Crossing the Bar so beautifully captures the peaceful acceptance of life’s final journey into the hereafter that it’s easy to understand why it has become a best-seller. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poignant poem of the same title is so well-known and beloved that this setting can serve as an effective moment of reflection in any concert, but is also ideal for funerals and memorial services. The poem is not “religious,” per se, nor is it faith-specific. However, Tennyson does express his hope “to see my Pilot face to face,” making it appropriate for services of many faiths.

Voicing: SATB
Accompaniment: 1. Keyboard only (in choral score) OR
2. Chamber orchestra: flute, 2 horns, harp, strings (flute and horns are optional).
Order the "Orchestra Pack" which includes the Full Score and parts
(Nbr. of string parts included in Orch. Pack: 4-V1, 4-V2, 3-Vla, 2-Cel, 1-DB)
Duration: 4 min 45 sec
Text: Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809 – 1892)
Language: English
Difficulty: Medium

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Crossing the Bar was written in loving memory of Donald McCullough’s dear friend and patron, Jean Montgomery Riddell, who crossed over at 100 years of age in 2010. It beautifully captures the peaceful acceptance of life’s final journey into the hereafter as expressed in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poignant poem of the same title. The “bar” is a sand bar used metaphorically to represent the barrier between life and death. When the sea passes over the bar at low tide it makes a moaning sound. Tennyson, however, hopes that the tide will be too full so that there will be no “moaning of the bar” (i.e., no weeping or sadness) when he crosses the bar, where he hopes to see his Pilot (God) face to face.

From You Tube: sharky123 has made a comment on Crossing the Bar – Music by Donald McCullough:

What a gorgeous setting of this poem. Captures the meaning of “Crossing the Bar” more beautifully than I I’ve heard. The sadness of the situation, so perfectly tempered by the beauty of acceptance of it. Exquisite, really.

From You Tube: harpace1 has made a comment on Crossing the Bar – Music by Donald McCullough:

Such a wonderful, meaningful setting of a truly beautiful poem. Beautiful orchestration and four part writing. Mccullough is a great talent. Should receive many performances….

Dear Mr. McCullough,

You don’t know me, but I have to thank you for your musical composition of the poem “Crossing the Bar”.

Last week we buried my husband. He died suddendly on the age of 62 and was a pilot at sea.
We allready knew the poem of Lord Tennyson and when I search the internet I found serveral performances of “Crossing the bar”, including yours.
As I listened I immediately knew: it was more than beautiful, such an impressive and gorgeous setting.
And so we played it on his memorial service last week.

Again I want to thank you.

With warm regards,

Mrs. [name omitted to protect privacy]
The Netherlands

Dear Donald,

I woke up this morning to an email from the Singer Source and browsed your sight, clicking on “Crossing the Bar”.

A real gift at 6 a.m., before the start of a busy day – thank you.

Nancy Almquist


User Submitted Reviews


When the music moves someone to tears, you know you have created something beautiful and meaningful.

Thank you

Posted by Melanie on December 30th, 2018 at 10:35 pm

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