The Larks They Sang Melodious


OK folks, this is where we started and for the time being I will be rescheduling the streams, but not the podcasts. I won’t be adding to or changing or editing my introductions (unless anything really vital crops up) and the original comments will come over with the day’s post. I know not everyone has been with us from the start, so here will be a chance to catch up with what you missed. For those that have seen it all before, I hope a refresher might prove enjoyable given the extraordinary journey we have been on with Jon as our guide. It will be interesting to see if the original comments or just the chance to hear the songs again provoke you to continue the discussions. I’d love to see the comments build now that we’ve had a chance to develop our own knowledge and will join in myself where appropriate. I think some of you have become bolder, adding your own links to alternate versions and helping to build the stories of the songs for which, I for one am very grateful.

Anyway, I’d ask you all to stay in the loop as if we can work out a way to get another year’s worth going, it will be announced here first.

Reading this first introduction, I’m immediately struck by my naive promise of “links to find out more about each song.” This project would become much more than that. I am on the right lines, however, in identifying that this would not be straightforward. Anyway, without further ado, here it is…

The first of the songs goes up today The Larks They Sang Melodious and just to settle any dispute, the 24th is midsummer’s day, rather than the solstice (or longest day) based on the Roman calendar and because it falls six months before Christmas.

We start things off in fine style and summer mood with bird song to wake us and a well known song (or possibly not), as Jon explains… “This is one of those songs you’re not supposed to sing because everyone sings it. Only problem is nobody does because you’re not supposed to. If you follow me. Fortunately it is still sung with great gusto on Forest School Camps which is where I learnt it. I think this may have been the song that first switched me on to English traditional singing.”


You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

One of the challenges we’ve set is to bring you links to find out more about each song. This gets complicated as many of the songs are known by more than one title. So you can link to the Mudcat folk forum here, where you’ll find this song is known as Pleasant And Delightful. I’ve  read elsewhere that it is sometimes called The Dawning Of The Day, but then so is another completely different song … You get the picture.


75 Responses to “The Larks They Sang Melodious”

  1. Keith Anderson says:

    A brilliant start for midsummer’s day, Jon.

  2. Caroline Jefford says:

    a fantastic blast to start the day! thank you

  3. Perhaps a reminder of the great exponent of folk music Peter Bellamy whose signature song this was? There’s an alternative chorus used when the song is called The Afterguard.

  4. neil spurgeon says:

    brilliant – just the best possible way to get going. Thank you for the idea and for what I know is going to be a wonderful year of song

  5. A great and beautiful song to start with – known as The Hartland Anthem in our part of the world, it was at one time the club song of the Bideford Rugby Club! It’s a song that we evangelize about, as it’s unfairly made fun of, in our opinion. I find this rendition a tad slow, even by West Country standards where it’s sung slower than in most areas. Wonderful in terms of ‘social singing’, as many people know ALL the words.

  6. Peter Smith says:

    Glorious! Given yourself a very high standard to maintain.

  7. Nelleke says:

    The first song I made myself learn all the words to, so I could lead it. Know what you mean about not singing it, but it is so lovely… and is being sung more often again these days at a variety of speeds

  8. mike says:

    Please tell me that my morris friends are not the only ones to try and distract me in verse three…”ring from off her finger” by fingers in mouths and popping noises!
    One has to battle on regardless!

  9. Pat Poole says:

    I have loved this forever it seems, one of the first songs I learned too, takes me back to the very first folk club days in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, the festivals and the singalongs, great to hear Jon do it and great to know that he is so enthusiastic about unaccompanied singing …. fab!

  10. Thanks, this is going to be such a daily treat!

  11. When I was taught this song some 45 years ago by Alan Weir, he assured me that dustom and tradition dctated that in the line “The ring from off her finger she instantly drew”, the laat syllable “ly” of the word “instantly” should always be pronounced in such a way that it rhymed with the word “lie”.

  12. Paul Whitaker says:

    Bloody brilliant! One of my favourite songs. Don’t let Nave & Dick get to hear of this!

  13. Peter Lee says:

    Good luck Jon on a great endeavour. A good choice for the start.
    Heard Jon this year at my local folk club singing unaccompanied which was a shock after hearing him with Spiers and with Bellowhead – but great.

  14. Beautiful start! Good luck with the rest of the year!

  15. Owen Ralph says:

    Brilliant Jon! I learnt that song on the recorder many years ago under the name ‘Pleasant and Delightful’ as you mention it’s sometimes called…

  16. Polly Spencer-V says:

    Great song – still, as you say, popular at Forest School Camps. Some people certainly sing the -ly of instantly as -lie… not sure why as it doesn’t rhyme with anything else…

  17. Carol N says:

    This is such a marvellous idea, which I’m sure will turn into a really influential and lasting body of work by the end of the year. A fab song to start with. It made the hairs rise on the back of my arms listening to you sing it. I can’t wait to hear the rest.

  18. James F says:

    Hamish LOVED that! Thanks Jon.

  19. Neil says:

    Gorgeous. If that isn’t enough to make people want to sing I don’t know what is. Loved it, thanks.

  20. Chris Goldsmith says:

    One of my favourite songs. When I was a regular performer at a monthly singer’s club in Teddington, West London. I was always put on at the end of the evening and would do a couple of songs, using “Pleasant and Delightful,” (the name by which I’ve always known it) as a grand finale. They were a tremendous singing audience and it always gave me a buzz to hear forty or fifty voices belting out the chorus.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. Bee says:

    Absolutely loved this – good luck with this brilliant project!

  22. Jane Bird says:

    Mike, our lot do that too (the popping noise thing). Dreadful, aren’t they! 🙂

    Really looking forward to hearing more songs.


  23. Dave Yeomans says:

    What a wonderful initiative of Jon’s. Well done brother. Took me back to the late 50s when I became hooked on ‘folk’ at the Ian Campbell Folk Club held in Digbeth, Birmingham, where I first met Mike Harding and the the brilliant ‘Swarb’. Folk music has added so much pleasure to my life I must thank you all. My Moscow flat reverberates to Mike’s weekly show each Wednesday night. Brilliant!!

  24. Nice one – takes a bit to breathe new life into this one, as noted above it’s too easy to send it up. You seem to have succeeded in several ways. Good lad!

  25. Jerry Simon says:

    One of the very first songs to kindle my abiding love of unaccompanied British song. First heard it in the Drill Hall, Sidmouth 1966 (?), sung as “Pleasant and delightful” by 16 year-old Taffy Thomas. It was a glorious and unforgettable experience to join a roomful of singers in the chorus of such a beautiful straightforward sunshiny swelling English folksong. Still adore it.

  26. Chris says:

    Brilliant love it lets have more please.

  27. Paul Howarth says:

    Great start.
    Often sung in New Zealand with the finger poppings & squawking echoes of ‘melodious, melodious’ so very nice to be reminded what a great song it really is. Looking forward to the next 364.

  28. Peter Aitken says:

    Great idea Jon. Only just picked up on this project after coming back from holiday – so will be listening in daily from now on.

    This song is one that somehow I know – not sure how BUT when Phil Beer sung at a Feast of Fiddles concert in Rochester Kent I went to earlier this year, and again at a Show of Hands concert in Folkestone, I along with all the audience joined in – so you’re not quite right when you say “nobody sings this anymore” – Phil (and his audiences) do 🙂

  29. Joy Toole says:

    What a belter! I remember this one from my first outings to clubs in Essex when I was a girl and they all did the finger popping thing as well!

  30. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  31. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  32. If I want to get a roomful of people singing, I sing this one. It is a fabulous song.
    I gather it was overdone in some places, but I don’t know anyone else who sings it round here, and it’s great for schools too. So much potential for spontaneous harmony.

  33. mimigoodspirit says:

    never heard it before but it was very beautiful

  34. martin j says:

    I first heard this or a similar song sung by John Morgan I think in Tunbridge Wells in the late sixties. he called it the Sussex song. I’ve never forgotten it and have loved music like this ever since.

  35. Georgigirl says:

    How have I not stumbled across this site before now? (news travels slowly out to Italy, it seems) Thank you, thank you, for this brilliant resource.

    Btw, if you want to hear this sung more often, get down to the Half Moon… although most commonly the first chorus there is sung “and the sharks they played melodions….”

  36. Mathew says:

    Really excellent idea. Just started to subscribe. Are the June songs availible to purchase ? The links take me to the July album.

  37. Will Q says:

    Same question as Mathew (above, in Sept): is there a way to get the songs from June? I’d love to get your “Larks they sang melodious”, as I confess I’m really better versed in the “Sharks they played melodeons” version than the original! And of course, tremendous thanks for this project. What a great gift you are providing the world.

  38. Brad says:

    I will be coming back time and time again. There was too much to fully appreciate the first time round. Like an album that grows on you over time this is going to be a source of ongoing pleasure.

  39. Rich says:

    why aren’t you letting us listen to this on the podcast?

  40. John Biggs says:

    So this is where it all started. I only joined the ship last winter so I still have several months of the voyage to complete. And what a great old favourite to have ringing in our ears as we set off. All shall be well !
    Hope every one at C.S.H. had a great evening last night. I bet you did !

  41. Simon says:

    All of the June songs will be available to buy in tthe next few days from all of the digital outlets.

  42. Sarah says:

    Wonderful song, what a great way to start (again) although I do feel like I’m meeting myself coming backwards – does this mean we are all a year younger?

  43. Michael says:

    Good to know I was not the only one the log in this moning ‘just to check’ if anything was happening. In lieu of a new project, listening to them again will certainly be a rewarding alternative…..for now!

  44. Darren says:

    Quite new to folk and, although have been listening to Jons songs for the last few months, I missed the beginning of AFSAD, so looking forward to hearing it from the start.

  45. Rosie says:

    This is a great idea, especially as I was late coming in at the beginning. Will be watching how it all develops .

  46. nev perry says:

    Many thanks for the re-run of this project and the opportunity to listen in and enjoy from the beginning and throw in a comment here and there. great stuff! The music part of the chorus sounds very familiar here there is a definate semblence to” over the hills and far away” I wonder if anyone else agrees?

  47. Jane Ramsden says:

    I agree with you, Nev! And I appreciate a second chance to run through the songs too. I didn’t ‘collect’ them the first time round, so some digital purchasing might well be in order!

  48. Jane Ramsden says:

    Sorted! Thank you once again, Phil.

  49. SRD says:

    Oh good! Now my Sunday mornings will still be enlivened, and enlightened.

  50. Espanyolgas says:

    My podcasts only go back to Track no.131 Spectre Review. Is that because I subscribed late?

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