"Forty Years On" is a song written by Edward Ernest Bowen and John Farmer in 1872. It is the school anthem for Harrow School and was adopted by WGHS as well as Woodford County High School for Girls to serve as their School Song.
It is specifically about life at school and is meant to make present pupils think of what what it will be like in forty years when they return to their old school, and to remind 'Old Boys' (obviously a problem there!) about their school life.
As early as 1916 it was felt that the school needed an original School Song of its own, and so a competition was launched, with a prize offered for the pupil or Old Girl whose poem was adopted for this purpose. Unfortunately nothing was submitted which was deemed to be of a sufficiently high standard by the leadership team and so renditions of "Forty Years On" continued.
Miss de Zouche had never seemed to think it inappropriate that the song had been written for a boys' public school and was, according to Mary Kille (nee Mackay), "patently oblivious to our giggles as we sang 'visions of boyhood floating before us'!"
Miss Scargill, however, was very aware of the sniggering and changed the anthem in her first week at the school to something much less exciting to the adolescent schoolgirl mind. The words chosen were those of the Athenian oath of fidelity to the city state, a copy of which was always given to each Prefect when she took office.
The music was composed by Margaret Deans, with help from her form. Speech Day on 18th July 1957 opened with the singing of this new school song for the very first time.
Since that time various Head Teachers have moved to change the School Song, but we love it, don't we??
It is not only sung at the end of every term, Carol Service and Speech Day, but also on every coach trip.... the stamping being a vital part....
The words of our school song are the words of the Athenian Oath. The Athenian Oath was recited by the citizens of Athens, Greece over 2,000 years ago. It is frequently referenced by civic leaders in modern times as a timeless code of civic responsibility.