Saturday 16 May

Many people have commented about being able to hear birdsong afresh at this time. So, a folk song Cornwall about the Sweet Nightingale.

A popular chorus song. The words of Sweet Nightingale were first published in Robert Bell’s Ancient Poems of the Peasantry of England, 1857, with the note:

“This curious ditty—said to be a translation from the ancient Cornish tongue … we first heard in Germany … The singers were four Cornish miners, who were at that time employed at some lead mines near the town of Zell. The leader, or captain, John Stocker, said that the song was an established favourite with the lead miners of Cornwall and Devonshire, and was always sung on the pay-days and at the wakes; and that his grandfather, who died 30 years before at the age of a hundred years, used to sing the song, and say that it was very old.” 

The tune sung here was collected by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould from E.G. Stevens of St. Ives, Cornwall.

This is a live recording by Jackie Oates. It gives a sense of the earthy and ‘pubby’ context of the wonderful folk song tradition of the British Isles. 

And for more isolation choirs … this one from Canada …