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SULLIVAN AND "THE LOST CHORD" 151
effective song, if only they could get the right man to set them. After some deliberation they decided that the composer who would be most likely to do them justice was Arthur Sullivan, and they accordingly approached him on the subject. "I have set them," was Sullivan's reply. And then in conversation it transpired that the song only wanted finishing off, as the last verse was not quite complete, but Sullivan agreed to have it ready in a few days' time. Antoinette Sterling used to recall how, the first time she went to rehearse it with him, Sullivan handed her the manuscript with the remark, " It won't be a success, I'm afraid."
The first performance took place at one of the ballad concerts, and what followed can best be told in the singer's own words:1 "I shall never forget the anxiety felt by all of us as to how it would be received—least of all, perhaps, by myself. The composer himself was at the piano, and Sydney Naylor at the organ. What excitement when it was over! What applause burst out on all sides ! It was the greatest success that had ever been made by a new song, and the wonderful sale of half a million copies during the following twenty-five years speaks to the lasting nature of this. The song was indeed an inspiration, and the composer wrote
1 Antoinette Sterling and Other Celebrities. M. S. Mackinlay.