When We Collide: A British Songbook 
Snape Maltings 
Saturday 23 March 2019

Rehearsal : 13.00 - 16.00
Informal performance 17.00

Come and sing a brand new songbook created with community choirs from across the UK! 

Rebecca Hanbury & Alex Groves spent last year touring the nation, collecting stories and turning them into songs. Now, they need your help to bring them to life! When We Collide is a new songbook commissioned by Sky Arts which asks what it means to be British in 2019. It moves away from traditional notions of Britishness and uncovers what is actually important to this nation; what we care about, what we fear, and what we love. We are no longer a nation characterised by patriotism and a stiff upper lip! 

Join vocal leader Rosie Adediran on Saturday 23rd March for an afternoon of choral singing from 13:00 - 16:00 where members of your choir will learn the songs, followed by an informal performance at 17:00. Choir members are welcome to just turn up and sing – with no need to learn the songs in advance of the day. 

Please confirm your choir’s attendance by emailing hello@whenwecollide.co.uk

Performance resources

Below you can find resources for all the songs that we will be singing. There is sheet music along with recordings and backing tracks.
They’re free to download and perform. Read our FAQs here.

There is no need to learn the songs in advance of the day, but you might enjoy listening to them to prepare a little. If you do want to listen to or learn the songs, you’re more than welcome to download them here. You can use either the unison or SATB parts. The two sets are interchangeable, and all parts work together. Further SAB parts are available here.

Credits: All songs sung by Rosie Adediran. All piano accompaniments played by Michael Robson-Kiernan.

An Oath


An Oath

Many people, all over the country, felt like “citizens of the world” rather than “British citizens”. Some of the strongest proponents for this stand point were people in the military and the services. The people in these traditionally patriotic organisations spoke about their dedication to a wider humanity; from a 92-year-old sailor from the Men of Staithes liberating prisoners from concentration camps in 1945, to soldiers, police, prison wardens and navy personnel. These people had huge insight into the human condition, and a powerful devotion to the people they protect. In many ways, this is a military anthem for the 21st century – dispelling nationalism and embracing a wider humanity. 

We Are Chaos

The workshops highlighted the family unit as the single most important building block of British society. It is the framework upon which people form their political ideas and make life-changing choices. It also forms the emotional heart of our country. We spoke to many single mothers about the joys of family life, but just under the surface lay fragility, uncertainty and pain. This song contains four stories from four of the incredible women that we met across the country as they describe the wonderful chaos that is family life in the UK.   

The Kettle’s On

In the midst of a housing crisis, it was little surprise to discover that finding a home was a seminal moment in the lives of many of the people we spoke to. This song contains three stories of people finding sanctuary. The first shows a family escaping inner-city life in Liverpool. The second came from a man being offered a dilapidated flat in Poplar after months of homelessness - he was mesmerised by the light streaming in through the windows, and told me that “nearly all the good things in [his] life spread out from that moment”. The final verse comes from The Include Choir, a Makaton choir for people with speaking and communication difficulties. Many of these singers had exceeded the expectations of those around them by managing to live independently.

We Are An Island

Discussions on British pride were always divisive, and few people were able to articulate what exactly there was to be proud of. One aspect of Britain that did unite people was a love of the countryside. This song is an ode to the British landscape – the lowlands, the coast, the hills and the mountains. 

I’m Letting Go

This song is based on the incredible life story of a woman from Edinburgh Police Choir. The many chapters of her life were littered with adventure and tragedy. We were struck by her strength when faced with difficult decisions and her ability to leave one life and embark on something entirely new. This act of painfully extracting herself from a situation mirrors the wider political struggle as Britain wrestles uncomfortably for a Brexit deal. 
We couldn’t tell you what she thinks about Brexit, but her words beautifully capture the unease of the nation as it tries to remove itself from something in the hope that it’ll bring a better future.   

When I Get My Chance

We asked a group of primary school children what they thought about British identity and they talked furiously about race relations, immigration and their dreams of creating a fairer world. Their perception of the UK was starkly different to those of an older generation. They held no assumptions that Britain is a world power. To them, it’s a small and imperfect corner of the map.



When We Collide

“We are strong when we collide” was written by a teenager from Havelock Academy in Grimsby and is a striking summary of the state of British identity. Our local communities are splintered and fractured, but even in this division we crave unity and togetherness – if the first song highlights our isolation, this song is a celebration of our changing communities. This text sits alongside snapshots of joy and connectivity taken from all across the project, many of which reflect our unwavering affinity with the sea.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to learn the music before the day?

No – just come and learn and sing together! If you want to have a prior look or listen to the music – then you’re welcome to do that.

Do I need to bring print outs of the music?

No – just bring yourselves and your singing voices. We will provide the sheet music and lyric sheets.

I don’t read music. Can I still come?

Yes, that’s fine. You can use lyrics sheets and learn with the support of our creative team.

I have additional needs – is this event suitable for me?

Yes, everyone is very welcome to come and sing. Please get in touch with us at hello@whenwecollide.co.uk to discuss any special requirements you may have.

I’d like to know more about the songbook project?

Please visit our home page for more info.

Can my choir take this music away and sing it elsewhere?

Yes please – we are keen for the songbook to spread far and wide. Please tell the story of how and why the songbook was written and let us know when and where you’re performing the songs. Contact us at hello@whenwecollide.co.uk

Will our conductor/accompanist need to lead rehearsals?

No, our vocal leader Rosie Adediran will be running the rehearsals and we will be providing an accompanist. Your choir’s conductor and accompanist are more than welcome to join in learning and singing the songs with you as we’d love you to continue performing them as a group after the performance.

Not all the members of my choir can come to the day – can a small group from our choir come?

Yes, we would be delighted to welcome small groups representing larger choirs. Our hope is that you will take the songs away and share them with your own choir and audiences at a later date.