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 lyrics pdf