I See the Hosts of Mohammed Coming

I posted the lyrics to this song some years ago, but that was back before you could find everything on YouTube. This time y’all can actually listen to it.

The artist is Al Stewart, and the song was featured on the album 24 Carrots from (I think) 1981. It’s always been of interest to me, given the times we live in, but it’s never seemed as prophetic as it does now.

The only part he got wrong was “uninvited guests” — they’ve actually been invited in, and given a warm welcome to boot.

I doubt he performs this song anymore when he’s on tour…

The lyrics are below the fold.

by Al Stewart

Across the western world
The fights are going down
The gypsy armies of the evening
Have lit their fires across
The nether side of town
They will not pass this way again

So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light
I see the hosts of Mohammed coming

The Holy Sister bars her doors against the East
Her house has stood too long divided
The uninvited guests are breaking up the feast
She may not bid them leave again

So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light
I see the hosts of Mohammed coming

I dreamed I stood like this before
And I’m sure the words that I heard then
Were much the same
It’s just an old Greek tragedy they’re acting here
Held over by popular acclaim

So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light
I see the hosts of Mohammed coming

By the way — Al Stewart turned 70 two weeks ago.

9 thoughts on “I See the Hosts of Mohammed Coming

  1. from songfacts

    “According to the album inset, this track runs to 4 minutes 50 seconds, was co-written with Peter White and was published in 1980 by Frabjous/Approximate Music and Lobster Music.
    Surprisingly uptempo, “Constantinople” might be described as historical folk rock meets hard rock; the Mohammed alluded to in the chorus is Mohammed II, not the actual founder of Islam. (thanks, Alexander Baron – London, England)”

    … based on the fall of Constantinople.
    Perhaps Al Stewart has enough energy and enthusiasm to revisit the subject with contemporary references, albeit, the methods remain the same when it comes to followers of Mohammed.

  2. Certainly a place for that song, at a club or rock concert.

    For me I am a bit more traditional and would like a song to be able to be sung by the 1000’s unaccompanied at a sports ground where the tune and words can harmonize like at Cardiff Arms when the Welsh sing. “Land of my Fathers”

    Where censors and police can not stop the spontaneity or gain control or any retribution.

    A very good angle to bring together people of like minds with poetry and song., that can spread messages.

    • I couldn’t agree more, simpleton! A great example of that is the wonderful Last Night of the Proms, one thing the BBC still does very well 🙂 A fabulous display of joy, fellowship and deep patriotism (with the flags of many nations that love those crazy Brits as well, including many Danish and Norwegian flags – but maybe I am wired to see them, being Scandinavian …) Can’t get much more British than this:

      Lyrics to “Land of Hope and Glory”:
      Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
      How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
      Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
      God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,

      • Hmmm…too many Brits would say this love of country is too much talk of “blood and soil” for them. No thanks, they’ll wait for a cleaner train, one less filled with riff-raff. Of course what they don’t realize is that while they’re waiting around, eventually the train filled with sword-carrying warriors who hate them for existing will pull into the station.

        Besides, in Britain, no mention of God, please. “Allah”? That’s okay, but nothing that resonates for someone who finds the mention of “God” to be offensive – “God” is right up there with “love of country” as being beyond the bounds of good taste…

        What did the Bishop call them?…”Fried Brains”, was it? Sounds about right. Shakespeare would have had them in comic roles were he alive today. The unwittingly ‘funny’.

  3. Al Stewart is the best lyricist in the biz. “24 Carrots” was more of a pop-rock effort than his earlier folk and folk-rock efforts or his lush pop produced by Alan Parsons (“Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages”), but it is a fantastic album, even if pop-rock isn’t your thing.

    Interestingly enough, “24 Carrots” also includes a song called “Ellis Island” about immigrants coming to America… lovingly and in a generally orderly fashion.

    The song “Constantinople” was played fairly recently (2009) as an acoustic offering on the live album “Uncorked.”

    As a die-hard Al fan, I highly recommend “Between The Wars” for anyone who might like brilliantly-played historically-based folk music. Every song is genius.

    • I don’t have “24 Carrots” and I hadn’t heard this version before.

      I do have “Uncorked” and it is an excellent album.

      I already have a ticket for the next time he’s in my area, on November 7.

  4. The Silver Swan

    The silver swan, who living had no note,
    When death approached, unlocked her silent throat;
    Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
    Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
    “Farewell, all joys; Oh death, come close mine eyes;
    More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.”

    Orlando Gibbons

  5. I saw Al perform this at the Hammersmith Odeon way back in 1980 while he still had a band. He played 4 successive nights at the Odeon and sold out each performance. 24 Carrots followed the hugely successful Time Passages album but unfortunately did not repeat its success.

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