New Singers

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New singers  are always welcome to join us – read more

Event Organisers  – want us to sing for you? – read more
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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Hello South Downs Folk Singers One and All

I hope you are safe, well and coping in these tricky times. Here is an idea to fill the gap left by the suspension of our usual local group meetings to sing with fellow South Downs Folk Singers....

Singing is such a joyful, uplifting and consoling thing and if like me you are missing our SDFS get togethers how about still singing a few songs together, safely, during the evenings when we would usually have gathered.

Starting with Worthing’s local group session next Wednesday (1st April), instead of being at our regular haunt "Ye Olde House at Home” join us by singing in your own home at some time between 8.00 and 10.00 pm. Although separate we can still feel united across the air!

Here is a short list of some songs to try at home – and add as many more as you like to fill the evening if you want (not forgetting the refreshment breaks too!)

"Country Life" for it’s energy and joy.
"Sussex Hills" to remind us we are made of strong “south country stuff”.
"Rolling Home" (albeit not officially a South Downs song!) for its celebration of stoic endurance, solidarity and collective effort.
and "Fields Lie Silent" for its beautiful descriptions of the quietness in a dormant world and its promise of brighter days returning.
Then perhaps add "Hal an Tow", chorus at least, or some other springtime song you like, for an encore!

We can continue this pattern for all the local sessions we are missing during the suspension, with a different set of songs posted here on our website shortly before the date of each one (Worthing 1st Weds, Lewes 3rd Tues and Chichester 3rd Thurs of each month). We’d love to know if you like this idea, find it helpful or have any other ways of joining in song to suggest. Also, If you’d like to suggest a song or songs familiar to most of us to be included in the lists for future sessions, please use the SDFS email for your message to be forwarded to me.

Happy singing on Wednesday evening folks, or whenever you can join us, and we’ll all look forward to happier and safer times ahead.
Henny (SDFS Committee Chairperson)

Wednesday, 18 March 2020


All of our official SDFS gatherings are now suspended until it is considered to be safe to meet up again. We expect this to be at least to the end of June and possibly well beyond this date.

Please check this website regularly for any updates.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 4th March 2020

Thirty singers gathered to ignore the wind and rain of early March and turn instead to thoughts of the spring and possible songs for the performance events we have planned for the coming season. We opened with Fields Lie Silent describing as it does so beautifully the return of spring after winter. With Emily’s guidance we then sang through When Spring Comes In and Searching For Lambs before moving on to Maytime with Hal an Tow and the May Day Carol. Time was also given to hearing, trying and starting to learn a couple of new offerings made recently – Three Drunken Maidens and Buttercup Joe. Both went down well and may be added to our collection in due course if also liked by our two comrade groups. After a break and some notices about future events we resumed by singing these two songs through again. The evening concluded with a couple of requests, still looking ahead to spring and summer, Rolling In the Dew and Lark in the Morning. Roll on Springtime!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th February 2020

Despite the downpours and our proximity to the river Ouse, sixteen of us managed to sail along to The John Harvey Tavern for another busy evening of singing. Can’t imagine why Peter B from the Worthing sessions brought his friend Steve in with the wind on such a wet night! Tina had chosen Poor Froze Out Gardeners and Pleasant and Delightful for our warm up and then two of our war songs, All Things Are Quite Silent and Home Lads, Home before launching into Spring and the great outdoors with Lark In The Morning, Searching for Lambs, Birds on the Spray, Brighton Camp, Caburn Hill and Oak, Ash and Thorn.

In the refreshment break we finally presented Tina with a Book Token in thanks for all she does for us and as a belated Birthday present.

Where Stormy Winds Do Blow and The Woodcutter’s Song seemed appropriate for February and then back to better weather with Brisk Young Ploughboy, Seasons Turn, Turtle Dove, When Spring Comes In, Farmer’s Toast closing with a rousing Thousands or More.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The Worthing Seed Swap 2020

On the 8th February 2020 the SDFS made its now annual performance at the Worthing seed swap. Members were positioned elegantly on the staircase from which their harmonious sounds could echo due to the open stairwell. Two sets of relevant songs for the occasion were presented to a sometimes passing audience, although many interested folk also stayed as they were entranced by the music. It was noted that although the source of the singing was outside the main hall, we could be readily heard therein.

Thanks to all who attended to support me as conductor of the day.


Sunday, 9 February 2020

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th February 2020

Unfortunately Emily was unable to join us this month but Alan very kindly and ably stepped in to lead us through a mix of songs, including those lined up for performance at The Seed Swap in Worthing on 8th Feb. We started with Country Life then Oak, Ash and Thorn, before trying out In an English Country Garden suggested as appropriate for use at the Seed Swap. Many singers knew it but singing it through demonstrated various renditions, so with inadequate time to resolve these we agreed not to add it to the set list. Moving on, Pleasant and Delightful was requested, then The Magpie, the Seed Swap version of The Turnip Hoer, Fields Lie Silent and the Woodcutter's Song. Just before we took a break, Alan sang Buttercup Joe, a song which originated in Ashurst. After the break and some notices we resumed with On Sussex Hills, before Amaryllis sang Run of the Downs to a new tune she had written. This was appreciated and enjoyed and Amaryllis agreed to supply the score for consideration by Emily and our colleagues in the Lewes and Chichester groups. The Bee Boy's Song, Hard Times of Old England, the West Sussex Drinking Song and Life of a Man brought us to the last 5 minutes of our session, and Rolling Home was once more the choice made to see us on our way – with thanks again to Alan and all.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 21st January 2020

It was a joy to be back at The John Harvey Tavern when the twelve singers joined in harmony to welcome in the new year. Tina had made a cunning plan so that we could work through four Wassail songs, sad songs, spring-time songs, and those from the repertoire that may or may not be on a set list in the future. The twenty songs were: Apple Tree Wassail; Here We Come a-Wassailing; Wassail, Wassail All Over The Town; Sugar/Sussex Wassail; Ha’nacker Mill; The Brave Eleven; Brisk Young Ploughboy; The Fields Lie Silent; The Birds On The Spray; Brighton Camp (The Girl I Left Behind Me); Caburn Hill; Oak, Ash and Thorn; Hard Times of Old England; The Lark in The Morning; Searching for Lambs; Our Captain Cried, “All Hands…”; The Turtle Dove; When Spring Comes In; Seasons Turn and finishing with Thousands or More.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Three Rounds

Supplied by Alan, with recordings.


Wassail all your apple trees upon this winter's day,
They will bloom and fruit so well the bugs will fly away,
We'll have plenty, we'll have plenty,
Apple pies, what sweet surprise, we'll eat them every day.

Download mp3

Summer Is Near

Rambling rolling Downs in Spring,
Swifts will soar and harebells ring,
Soft blows the wind, bright shines the sun,
Summer's near and Winter’s done.

Download mp3

Stir Up

Stir up we beseech thee, the
Pudden's in the pot and
When we get home we'll
Eat it all hot.

Download mp3

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 16th January 2020

There were just nine singers present at the Chichester Inn for our first sing of the new decade, but it was an excellent evening expertly led by Alan and we managed to sing nearly 20 songs! We started off with three wassailing songs – the Sugar Wassail, the Apple Tree Wassailing Song and Here We Come a-Wassailing, before launching into The Fields Lie Silent (which needs a touch more syncopation!) and the Ebernoe Horn Fair Song. After letting our hair down and being silly singing Batter Your Sole (a hilarious parody of Fathom the Bowl) we sang the Saucy Sailor, Brighton Camp, Stormy Winds and The Lark in the Morning. We were all very relaxed and Alan was feeling quite adventurous, so after singing us a version of Carter’s Pints, he led us in singing the White Cockade, The Cuckoo and A Sailor’s Life.

After the interval Dave suggested we sing In an English Country Garden, When Spring Comes In, and the Worthing Grower – all possible songs for the Worthing Seed Swap Event on Saturday 8th February. We continued with Drink Me Brave Boys, Eileen Aroon and the Constant Lovers before we finally brought the evening to a close with a look forward to the summer by singing Dave Webber’s May Song.

Thanks to Alan for leading us and to everyone for singing so well. It was great fun. We’ll do it all again next month on Thursday 20th February. Hope to see you then!

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Local Group Report – Lewes – Wednesday 18th December 2019

Another wet winter evening, so we were surprised to find that The John Harvey Tavern was very full and noisy with Christmas trade and customers were tucking into festive fare in our usual meeting place. One can hardly make a fuss when the Tavern allow us to use their dining area for free but, fortunately, Sandria has recently moved from Peacehaven to the other end of Cliffe High Street about 200 yards away and she offered us shelter away from the Inn. The boys went to the supermarket to purchase bottled beers and it wasn’t long before eleven singers sat around the large kitchen table and launched into a request time of winter songs: Sweet Chiming Bells, The Fields Lie Silent Now, On Sussex Hills, The Magpie, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, Masters in This Hall, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Copper’s Christmas Song and Angel Gabriel.

In the break, Sandria made teas and coffees for us and we discussed our singing possibilities spreading further into East Sussex. Adrian announced that he is going to take some of our Sussex songs as far as Timperley, Greater Manchester, in the New Year and no doubt others will be taking songs to festivals during 2020. We then resumed singing with Apple Tree Wassailing Song, Wassail, Wassail All Over The Town, Sugar Wassail, Here We Go A-wassailing, followed by Adrian’s East Sussex Drinking Song, Poor Froze-Out Gardeners, As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Pentonville) and The Sussex Mummers Carol (Righteous Joseph) before closing the evening with Thousands or More. Thank you to Sandria for saving the evening and inviting us into her home, it proved a pretty near-perfect evening.

Next time we will be back to our usual Tuesday evening, starting on 21st January, at The John Harvey Tavern. In the meantime, enjoy seeing in the new decade, 2020 has a good ring to it.

Editor's note: apologies for the late appearance on our website of this report, which I received several weeks ago.