Keep the Home-Fires Burning
Keep the Home-Fires Burning (Till the Boys Come Home)” is a British patriotic First World War song composed in 1914 by Ivor Novello with words by Lena Guilbert Ford (whose middle name was sometimes printed as “Gilbert”).
The song was published first as “‘Till the Boys Come Home” on 8 October 1914 by Ascherberg, Hopwood and Crew Ltd. in London.
A new edition was printed in 1915 with the name “Keep the Home-Fires Burning”.
The song became very popular in the United Kingdom during the war, along with “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”
James F. Harrison recorded “Keep the Home-Fires Burning” in 1915, as did Stanley Kirkby in 1916.
Another popular recording was sung by tenor John McCormack in 1917, who was also the first to record “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” in 1914.
Other versions include one by Frederick J. Wheeler and one by the duet Reed Miller & Frederick Wheeler.
There is a misconception that Ivor Novello’s mother wrote the lyrics for the song (propagated—for example—by patter in recorded performances of British musical comedy duo Hinge and Bracket) but Lena Ford (an American) was a friend and collaborator of Novello, not a blood relation.
The opening of the melody bears a resemblance to Gustav Holst’s setting of the Christmas Carol “In the Bleak Midwinter