November 19, 2018

Leila Elberta Ross-Shier composer of National Song remembered

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leila Ross-ShierGeorgina Wilcox

How many of us here in Cayman did not remember the significance of September 26th?

I didn’t but our publisher Joan Wilson did.

On September 26th 1968 Leila Elberta Ross-Shier died.

And who was Leila Elberta Ross-Shier?

Born Leila Elberta McTaggart in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands on 16 Nov 1886 to William Henry McTaggart and Emily Ann Bodden, Leila was a very accomplished musician. She was organist and choir leader at Elmslie Memorial United Church and taught the guitar. Joan Wilson was one of her pupils. She (Leila) also composed music.

As Joan said she was much loved and her first love was her husband Bentley Augustus Ross with whom she had two children – Leila Emily Ross and Arthur Bently Ross. After her husband died she married Samuel William Shier.

She died in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Members of the ship building Arch family are related to her by daughter Leila Emily after she married Henry James Arch.

In 1930 Leila Ross-Shier composed a song she called “Beloved Isle Cayman” and for many years it was regarded as the unofficial national song. It was not until 1993 when it became the official national song when the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms, Flag and National Song Law were passed.

Beloved Isle Cayman as composed by Leila Ross-Shier, June, 1930.

1. O land of soft, fresh breezes,

Of verdant trees so fair

With the Creator’s glory reflected ev’rywhere.

O sea of palest em’rald,

Merging to darkest blue,

When ‘ere my thoughts fly Godward,

I always think of you.

 

Chorus: Dear, verdant island, set

In blue Caribbean sea,

I’m coming, coming very soon,

O beauteous isle, to thee.

Although I’ve wandered far,

My heart enshrines thee yet.

Homeland! Fair Cayman Isle

I cannot thee forget

 

2. Away from noise of cities,

Their fret and carking care,

With moonbeams’ soft caresses,

Unchecked by garish glare,

Thy fruit and rarest juices,

Abundant, rich and free,

When sweet church bells are chiming,

My fond heart yearns for thee.

 

(Chorus)

 

3. When tired of all excitement,

And glam’rous worldly care,

How sweet thy shores to reach,

And find a welcome there,

And when comes on the season,

Of peace, good will to man,

‘Tis then I love thee best of all,

Beloved Isle, Cayman!

 

(Chorus)

 

END

So let us mark our calendars and celebrate Saturday November 16th this year remembering this was the day the composer of our national Song,  Leila Elberta Ross-Shier (nee McTaggart) was born.

 

 

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