The Slaves Lament

The Slave’s Lament was written by Robert Burns in the late 1700s at the height of  the slave trade. He was against the trade and here he imagines himself in the position of being a captured slave and taken to America.  It has one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve ever sung, though I’m not certain of its roots: it’s very  different to the fiddle tunes Burns commonly used for his songs.   I’ve written a break to use between verses and, as it’s written to the same chord structure as the  verses, it can also be used as an alternative backing for the verses. This is a 3 part arrangement for mixed voices. I also have a women only version – email me.

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The Weary Cutters

This beautiful women’s song is a protest against the pressgangs where men were often brutally  captured – or pressed – and taken to sea in order to fight in the Napoleonic wars. It was collected  in 1821 on Tyneside by Thomas Doubleday. Verses 2 and 3 are also from Tyneside and come  from  A L Lloyd’s collection. The cutters are easily manoeuvrable ships that the pressgang crew would have used to steal up on coastal towns to begin the press.

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And a Lullaby

I found this text in Sabine Baring-Gould’s collection of songs. The original was titled “The  Mother and Babe” and Baring-Gould had learnt it from his nursemaid (he was born in 1834).  As he couldn’t remember all the words, he’d replaced some lines with those of his own invention.  I picked out four verses that I felt worked well .

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The Birds in the Spring

This song is from the singing of George ‘Pop’ Maynard who was born in 1872. He lived for most of his life in Copthorne on the Surrey and Sussex border and died when he was 90 in 1962. Singing was a huge part of his life and he learnt many songs from his father, brothers and neighbours.  As well as being a great singer he was also a keen player of shove ha’penny, quoits, darts and (most famously) marbles.

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Ten Thousand Miles

I’ve always loved this song since first hearing it sung by the great Nic Jones – it’s just one of those classic love songs that will never date. The arrangement I’ve done has some very long sustained notes which I  think makes it a great song for learning to really listen and focus on tuning with other singers.

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The Cuckoo

This version of The Cuckoo is just one of many and was sung to Cecil Sharp by Mrs Jarret of Bridgwater, Somerset in April 1908.

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Jordan

This extraordinary song was taken down from Sam Fone by Sabine Baring Gould 1893. Needs to be sung to be appreciated! Great words…

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Sailors Prayer

This text of this song was collected by Sabine Baring-Gould in the late 19th century. It was taken  down from J Rich, a farmer of Horndon, Mary Tavy, Devon who’d said he learnt it from J. Friend,  labourer of Horndon.  It’s a song that was written around the 1860s when the overloading  and sinking of ships – for insurance money – was reaching a crisis point with thousands of sailors drowning every year. The MP Samuel Plimsol took up the cause and drove a bill through parliament which resulted in all ships having a plimsol line or watermark painted on the hull to define how much  load they could take.

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Three Ravens

This version of The Three Ravens comes from John Holmes of Roundhay who first heard it from his mother around 1825,in Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire Hills.

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Todlen Hame

This is a drinking song first published in Scotland in 1724. It has 4 unison verses and a wonderful rolling chorus that makes a great workshop song or warm up on its own or interspersed with the verses.

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