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Friday, 25 April 2014

New Songs for 2014

This post was edited on 25 September 2014 to include the information that was previously on a separate page.

A new selection of songs has been decided upon for this year: more songs about drinking (of course!), a few to link in with the centenary of the Great War – relevant because of some of the events we'll be participating in – plus a couple of new Christmas songs. Word sheets will be available.

Full information follows below.

Adrian F


On Sunday 6 April, the local group leaders (Alan Wheeler / Dave Garrard from Easebourne, Emily Longhurst from Worthing and Tina Cox from Lewes) gathered at Emily’s home for the exciting but somewhat daunting task delegated to them by the Committee – that of choosing five or six new songs to add to the existing core repertoire of 18.

Fortified by coffee and Emily’s 'sparkle cake' and entertained by her two adorable young children, we looked through words and sheet music, listened to SoundCloud recordings we had prepared earlier, found snatches of songs online (including some interesting singing by the great Belloc himself) and sang aloud to each other.

52 songs were considered, of which ten have already been tried out during the past six months. We grappled with the need to balance authors, periods, tempo, mood, connection to the Downs and (especially) topic, taking into account the specific events in our 2014 calendar.

Firstly the carols (this was the easiest part): we added: The Coppers’ Christmas Song and Sweet Bells (both tried out in 2013) Christmas is Now Drawing Near at Hand (on one of the original teaching CDs) and The Falmer Carol.

Next, of the other songs started in 2013, we decided to keep: Gooch’s Beer, Sussex by the Sea, West Sussex Drinking Song (two new verses to learn) and Where Stormy Winds do Blow which had all been enthusiastically received by the three local groups.

We then spent three hours dividing the remaining 44 suggestions into categories of “Love it, want to sing it this year”, “It’s OK, keep it in reserve for future years”, "Don't know it well enough to comment, look at it again next year", “Not suitable for the whole group, maybe for a smaller group”, “Don’t really like it” and “Terrific song but dubious / tenuous link to the Downs".

At the end of the discussion, nine songs had been voted “Love it” by us all. We decided at that point not to attempt to reduce the list any further but instead to rank them in the order in which we will introduce them, starting with the War songs (for the “Horses at War” event at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in June) then Drinking Songs (“Amberley Ale, Food & Music Festival” in August) General Songs (anytime we can fit them in) and Christmas Songs (from October).

This means that the final overall list for the SDFS as a whole is:

War Songs:
All Things are Quite Silent
Home Lads Home
My Boy Jack
The Ladies go Dancing at Whitsun

Drinking Songs:
Ale Glorious Ale
Gooch’s Beer
O Good Ale
West Sussex Drinking Song (two new verses to learn).

General Songs:
The Constant Lovers
Country Life
Ha’nacker Mill (may also fit the War category if space / time to learn)
Sussex by the Sea
Where Stormy Winds do Blow.

Christmas Songs:
Christmas is now Drawing Near at Hand
Coppers’ Christmas Song
Falmer Carol
Sweet Bells.

There may be other songs for specific events which are more suited to being sung by men only, women only, or a smaller number singing the verses and all joining in the chorus, which can be agreed nearer the time and finalised at the runthrough in advance of each event.

We have now started teaching these songs and word sheets are available at the sessions. Downloadable copies should be available soon too. We also plan to record teaching CDs in the next few weeks* so singers will be able to practise between sessions, including learning harmony parts for those who wish to do so.

Thanks again to Emily for the hosting and the cake; and to Dave’s family for sparing him on a day of airport delays and other difficulties.

We hope you will enjoy learning these songs as much as we have enjoyed selecting them and look forward to seeing you at a local group in the near future.


*downloadable mp3 format files should be available in due course.

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