Now Is The Hour is often mistakenly called a traditional Maori song but it was in fact written by Clement Scott, Maewa Kaihau and Dorothy Stewart. The tune dates back to 1913 and is a piano-variations piece called Swiss Cradle Song credited to Clement Scott. Maori words were added around 1915 and it became known as Po Atarau. English lyrics were written in 1920 by Maewa Kaihau. The song was modified in 1935 and became The Haere Ra Waltz Song.
Gracie Fields learnt the song in 1945 on a visit to New Zealand. She recorded the song in 1946 and released it as a single. The B-side was Come Back To Sorrento. It became a hit in 1948. Her manager, Dorothy Stewart changed a few lyrics and added an extra verse. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Eddy Howard have all recorded the song. It became part of Rory Storm and The Hurricanes’ repertoire when they played at Butlins and a home recording from 1960 exists. It was released in 2012 on Live At The Jive Hive March 1960.
Now Hear This : Now Is The Hour – Rory Storm and The Hurricanes (2012)