Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folksong collection


This manuscript contains a collection of folk tunes transcribed by Ralph Vaughan Williams on his forays to rural villages in England.  The first tune reproduced here is ‘The Cruel Father and the Affectionate Lover’, which Vaughan Williams heard and notated during a visit to Ingrave in Essex in 1903.  The words are:

It's of a damsel both fair and handsome,
These lines are true, as I am told.
On the banks of Shannon, in a lofty mansion,
Her parents garnered great stores of gold.

The second tune has the title ‘The Ploughboy’s Dream’.  According to Vaughan Williams’s note, ‘The Ploughboy’s Dream’ was sung by Mr Gorman, a labourer aged about 60 from Forest Green near Ockley, Surrey.  In 1906 Vaughan Williams included a version of the tune in the first edition of The English Hymnal under the title Forest Green.  Today it is best known as the melody of the carol O little town of Bethlehem.  Vaughan Williams also notes that ‘Mr Garman used to sing to the Rev John Broadwood who ‘would give half-a-crown to hear the plough boys dream’.  The words of the first two verses are as follows:

I am a ploughboy stout and strong

as ever drove a team
And 3 years since I slept in bed

I had a dreadful dream

Now since the dream has done me good

I put it down in rhyme

That other boys might read and sing

whenever they have time.

Full title:
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk songs collected in Essex, Norfolk, Surrey, etc.; 1903-1926.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
© The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust
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Add MS 54188

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