I was given this song by Dave Townsend. Back in 1994 Dave invited Ian Giles and myself to be guest vocalists (alongside Sally Dexter and the wonderful Julie Murphy) on the Mellstock band album Songs of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex on Saydisc. We spent a very enjoyable two days at David Wilkins’ house-cum-studio overlooking the River Severn, and I have to say I really like the album. Dave Townsend had (typically) found a collection of lesser-known versions of songs mentioned in Hardy’s works – wherever possible versions from Dorset – and provided them with interesting and effective arrangements. And though I say it myself, I was in particularly good voice those two days in May.
On the record the arrangement for this song featured English concertina, violin, cello and vox humana (hello Charles, if you’re reading this) with, if I’m not very much mistaken, a nod towards Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending. I have occasionally performed it since then as an unaccompanied piece. I’d not sung it for ages, but it came into my mind a week or so again and I was reminded what a lovely song it is. Then, as luck would have it, I had the pleasure of seeing Ian Giles sing it on Friday night, accompanied by Dave Townsend on concertina. Folk club organisers please take note: after you’ve given me a booking, Ian and Dave should be next on your list.
The song itself was collected from Robert Barratt of Piddletown, Dorset, by Henry Hammond in June 1906.
The Light of the Moon