New Singers

+ + + +
+ + + +
+ + + +
New singers  are always welcome to join us – read more

Event Organisers  – want us to sing for you? – read more
+ + + +
+ + + +
+ + + +

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Song of the Sussex Downsman

Here is a reformatted version of the score for Song of the Sussex Downsman, intended to be easier to read for singers who may not be accustomed to reading music. If you have never read music, with a little explanation (which we can cover when we next sing this together) there is useful information that you can pick up very quickly, to ease the learning process for this song. There's also a piano recording of all three verses. The words and notes are unchanged from those given in the previous post for this song.

Download score pdf

Download mp3 (pitch as on the score)



Download mp3 (lower pitch, as we may sing it)



The original score for this song is marked allegro, meaning fast and bright. The mp3 files here are recorded at 115bpm (beats per minute) which is about the bare minimum (or even a little too slow) to qualify as allegro.

Hares On The Mountain

Here you can download the lyrics for Hares On The Mountain (pdf file).

You can listen to the melody in this post.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Turtle Dove Pilgrimage

Singers may be interested in a BBC Radio 4 programme which was broadcast on 14th March 2019, The Turtle Dove Pilgrimage. This is described as "A pilgrimage across Sussex tracing the origins of the iconic song The Turtle Dove." This song is being taught at the current Belloc, Broadwood and Beyond Song Workshops and it was also introduced at the most recent Worthing session.

It can be heard on the BBC website here (not sure how long this will be available), where you will also find links to further programme information. You may also be interested in the following links which are associated with the programme:

https://soundcloud.com/voice/turtle-dove-pilgrimage A recording of the BBC broadcast on the SoundCloud website. If you are unable to listen on the BBC website, you may be able to listen here instead.

http://thenestcollective.co.uk/turtledovepilgrimage/ A detailed written description of the pilgrimage.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/turtle-dove-pilgrimage-tickets-53093862171 Website for booking a place on this year's pilgrimage (now sold out).

https://britishpilgrimage.org/ Website of the British Pilgrimage Trust which organises The Turtle Dove Pilgrimage and others.

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 19th March 2019

Tonight at The John Harvey Tavern, nineteen of us squashed into the pub’s small downstairs dining room. It was lovely to have Cat back singing with us – it is nearly two and a half years since Rhion was born – and she still remembers all the lyrics! Another pleasant surprise was that Maggie brought along her friend Bonnie who sings with Anne and Alan in Cotillion.

Tina had the set list for the Firle Garden Show so we were able to work through almost all of it; Country Life, On Sussex Hills, Bee Boy’s Song, The Nightingale, Fathom the Bowl, Rosebuds in June, Twanky Dillo, West Sussex Drinking Song, spending a little more time on Hares on the Mountain with both first and second verses and putting the hares on the mountain and the sheep on the common! Ale Glorious Ale, Oak Ash and Thorn, Pleasant and Delightful, The Magpie, before we worked through all the verses in Song of The Sussex Downsman and also Brisk Young Ploughboy, omitting the second verse which is about the morning and horses. Then we gave time to sing both tunes and all verses for Caburn Hill, before finishing with The East Sussex Drinking Song and Thousands Or More!

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 6th March 2019

We had another full house at this month’s gathering and welcomed three new singers to the fold. Having no performances in March to prepare for left us free to sing whatever songs from our repertoire we fancied, plus the chance to hear and sing a couple of new things. Fathom the Bowl started our singing before we heard and tried an alternative version of Happy Birthday to You, brought to us by Alan and now available for celebratory use at future sessions whenever needed! We went on to a number of songs learned by some at the early song project workshops. It was a pleasure to revisit the lesser-used ones from those times: Three Maidens, The Sussex Wedding Song, Green Grow the Laurel, Cruel Mother and Oh Good Ale, and to sing again some favourites, Thousands or More, Rosebuds in June and the Song of the Sussex Downsman (with Keith ably leading us through the second verse). After a break we resumed to the rising buzz of the Bee Boys Song before turning our attention to a new song, The Turtle Dove, as requested by singers who knew and liked it from the current Belloc and Broadwood Song Workshops. With agreement to revisit and learn it at future sessions, and hopefully to add it to our set, we then returned to some more old favourites: A Smuggler's Song, Country Life and Ebernoe Horn Fair to finish.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

SDFS at The Garden Show at Firle Place

Update 19th March 2019: The set lists have been added below.
Easter Sunday 21st April 2019
The Garden Show at Firle Place, Firle, East Sussex BN8 6NS

We have been invited to sing a couple of song sets at this increasingly popular event which this year supports the community charity Hands of Hope

There will be the usual two 35-minute song sets with preamble which will be held in Firle Church if the weather proves inclement, but it was sunny and dry last year, so fingers crossed, otherwise outside at a site/s of our choosing when Jane gives me an update on the layout due to the increased number of stalls this year.

Entry will be by pre-issued pass, so please contact me by email southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com  or come and put your name on the event list at the next YOHAH to show your intention of volunteering on the day to sing. So I can pass these out at the Worthing meeting on 3rd April. Members of the Chi. & Lewes meetings attending on that date can collect passes for their respective Singers.

Cut-off date for volunteers, so I can give Jane the number of passes we will need, is 26th March. Please also wear your lanyards on the day for easy identification.

Apparel will be dictated by the weather but greens, blues, shades of cream/light yellow as usual if you have them.

John C.


The set lists will be as below.

Set 1
  1. Country Life [Eb - Ab]
  2. On Sussex Hills [A]
  3. The Bee Boy's Song [G]
  4. The Nightingale [A]
  5. Fathom The Bowl [D#]
  6. Rosebuds In June [B]
  7. Twanky Dillo [G]
  8. West Sussex Drinking Song [F]
  9. Hares On The Mountain
  10. Ale, Glorious Ale [E]

Set 2
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn [E]
  2. Pleasant & Delightful [A]
  3. The Magpie [B]
  4. Song Of The Sussex Downsman [C#]
  5. Brisk Young Ploughboy [C]
  6. East Sussex Drinking Song [F]
  7. Green Grow The Laurel [G]
  8. A Smuggler's Song [C#]
  9. Thousands Or More [A]
  10. Turnip Hoer [B]
  11. Jolly Good Song

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Our Captain Cried All Hands

Alan introduced us to this song at our last Worthing session. Vaughan Williams collected this in the village of Monk's Gate, near Horsham, and then adapted the tune for the hymn To Be A Pilgrim, which many of us will have heard. Here's a short extract from Andrew Gant's book "O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music":

But a fascinating detail emerges from comparing the hymn tune, which they called 'Monk's Gate', with the original folk-song. 'Monk's Gate' repeats its first line, like many hymn tunes. But in the original song it is the second line, not the first, which is repeated - more irregular, but more fun. Vaughan Williams has smoothed it out. He was perfectly unapologetic about this sort of thing: folk-song was a living, oral tradition, and tunes changed between versions, or 'variants', as he called them, from one village to the next. His version is just one more 'variant'.


Download mp3

Download lyrics pdf



Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 21st February 2019

The worry was that not too many members might arrive on a damp February evening at the Chichester Inn to join us for our monthly meeting, but happily all our stalwart singers and supporters turned up and we had a really good sing! Dave began by saying that, as we don’t have an event on the cards until the summer, we might think about singing songs that we rarely practise or even possibly try out some new songs. So we warmed up by singing Pleasant and Delightful and followed this with a hearty rendition of Drink Old England Dry. We then practised the Coppers’ song O Good Ale which seemed to go down very well. We sang The Saucy Sailor and the beautiful Searching for Lambs, which has to be one of our favourite songs, and then had another go at singing To be a Farmer’s Boy. After an interval to have another drink and socialise, Alan taught us two new rounds. One was a novel way of wishing someone Many Happy Returns in song and the other was a lovely round he had co-written himself called Summer’s Near. It goes like this: “Rambling, rolling Downs in Spring; swallows soar, the harebells ring; soft blows the wind, bright shines the sun; Summer’s near and Winter’s done”. This immediately prompted Stephen to sing us a local song – The Four Seasons of the Year – collected in 1901 by WP Merrick from Henry Hills of Lodsworth. We will definitely look into learning this one. Dave followed this by looking forward to Easter and getting everyone to sing The Pace-Egging Song. Finally to finish off the evening Keith helped us once more to sing Arthur Beckett’s rousing Song of the Sussex Downsman with the correct phrasing and scansion. We really do love this song! All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. Our next group sing will be on Thursday 21st March at 8.00pm at the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester. Do join us if you can.

Friday, 1 March 2019

The Petworth Society Christmas Evening – a review

Singers may be interested to see this review, published in the Petworth Magazine, of our performance for the Petworth Society on 12th December 2018. Thanks to Leigh for sending this in.

Click on the images to enlarge them.



Thursday, 21 February 2019

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 19th February 2019

Several apologies from long-standing singers who have had to travel to all corners of the world, but our numbers were boosted by three new singers who have returned to The John Harvey Tavern to share our repertoire and enhance the sound that drifts through the pub. Tina had prepared a flexible running order so that we were able to air a wide variety of songs as we head into spring and summer, not all of which we sing regularly at venues.

The Constant Lovers, Oh, Good Ale, The Bee Boy’s Song, Green Grow the Laurel, Ha’nacker Mill, The Brave Eleven, Hares on the Mountain, Life of a Man, Rosebuds in June, Jim The Carter Lad, Twanky Dillo, Sussex by the Sea, Old Adam, The Magpie, The Nightingale, Song of The Sussex Downsman, A Smuggler’s Song, Littlehampton Collier Lads, They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Any More, Pleasant and Delightful, the Woodcutter’s Song and Thousands Or More!

The newcomers are quick learners and managed to keep up with the introduction of this medley of songs. It won’t be long until they know the lot without word sheets like the rest of us (wish we could)!