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Linden Lea - Vaughan Williams

I am trying to find out if Vaughan Williams arranged his song "Linden Lea" for chorus.  All I seem to find are arrangements by others.  If he didn't arrange his own song, what arrangement might you suggest?  Thank you,
Dan Earl - Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus.  I am also interested in other folk songs that he arranged.
Replies (9): Threaded | Chronological
on August 4, 2011 10:11pm
Dear Dan,
I do not know of an original choral version of 'Linden Lea' by RVW, unfortunately. But you should look at his 1913 'Five English Folk Songs' - separate pieces - which I think are brilliant for choirs particularly 'The Springtime of the Year' and 'The Lover's Ghost'.
If you want some more information e-mail me at smacmus(a)
 Stuart McIntosh
on August 5, 2011 1:23am
Yes he did.  Here is one version on youtube.  It isn't his song however - but a folk song and his original title was "Linden Lea - a Dorset Folk Song".
There is a heated discussion following this clip which is interesting. 
This arrangement is in CPDL:
And here is some more information on his arrangements. 
 By the way - Ca' the Yowes it is exquisite.    If you have a couple of sonorous basses and some sopranos with good breath control  who can float pp on some high notes it makes a stunning concert piece.
on August 5, 2011 2:00pm
"Linden Lea" was published in 1902, RVW's first published work.  Contrary to popular misapprehension it is not a genuine folk-song, the tune is an original composition, and the words are from a poem by Rev. William Barnes, a Dorset clergyman.  Barnes was a philologist and was interested in preserving the purity of the English language, indeed he advocated the erradication of some of the Latin, Greek and other foreign influences from the language.  Dialect was important to him and he wrote a number of poems which included dialect words. Vaughan Williams set two of them, "Linden Lea" and "In the Spring".  It's not known why he subtitled the song "A Dorset Folk Song".  It may have been the influence of the Dorset dialect in the poem, or he may have written in a "folk-songish" style to fit in with the tone of the words.  The compositional style of the melody would seem to be too well-crafted to be a genuine improvisational folk melody.
Vaughan Williams did indeed have a deep interest in folk music, but it wasn't until 1904 that he was able to develop this interest by touring the country seeking out and writing down folk songs and carols.  He arranged some of his finds as choral pieces and a number of them found their way into The English Hymnal whch was being compiled and of which he was the musical editor.  The influence of folk music is evident in many of his works.
on August 5, 2011 3:26pm
David -
This very interesting.    I had believed that the melody of Linden Lea had its origins in the Essex folk song Bushes and Briars but when I found the music to both on the internet just then they are quite different.
Thank you
on August 6, 2011 6:01am
Many thanks for this, David, Yesterday I was trying all day to find time to reply from what I recalled from decades ago. Thank you for putting it all there. My only difference would have been in characterising Barnes as a "nut case" rather than a philologist.
on August 5, 2011 3:05am
Hello Dan
There is an SATB 'Linden Lea' arrangement by Arthur Somervell. You'll find it on the Net under 'Boosey's Choral Miscellany, Linden Lea'. It's in the same spirit as the original. 
Vaughan Williams himself arranged 'Five English Folk Songs', all noted as 'freely arranged'. You'll find more info here:
They are all a little more moody and with more meat than, for instance, Linden Lea.
We've sung the fifth one 'Wassail Song' (very freely arranged) at every Chrismas concert to lead into the break for years. It's invigorating to sing and always goes down a treat.
Hope that helps.
Alec Barnfield
on August 5, 2011 9:22am
THANK YOU to all who responded.  I think that ChoralNet is such a great tool.  It is one of the first emails I open.  Thank you to all that make this possible.  Blessings!
on August 6, 2011 3:36am
Dear Dan,
Having originally said I didn't know of a choral version of 'Linden Lea' by Ralph Vaughan Williams, I have done a little more digging. Only a month ago I sang in a concert of English music locally (near Canterbury in England) where we sang 'Linden Lea' as an SATB chorus. That version was by the English composer Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937). And I found the file on CPDL ( So I checked with the Vaughan Williams Society. They list 'Linden Lea' (with its sub-title 'A Dorset Folk Song) as having been RVW's first published work in 1901, dedicated to Mrs Edmund Fisher.
They also note that 'Michael Kennedy lists thirteen arrangements as well as a Fantasia on this song.' Michael Kennedy wrote a famous book on Vaughan Williams and none of the arrangements listed is attributed to RVW himself. In a letter RVW wrote to his friend McEwen who had offered to finance the publication VW's The Shepherds of the Delectiable Mountains, VW said "... I ought to be able (if necessary) to do this myself out of the ill-gotten gains of such sins of my youth as Linden Lea which becomes every year more horribly popular."
RVW was quite happy for other arrangers, and Somervell, in particular to make the arrangements. Thus whilst VW himself did not write the various extant versions, he gave tacit permission for them to be done. The Somervell arrangement is quite beautiful!
Hope this helps,
Stuart McIntosh
on August 6, 2011 8:25am
Wow!  I am continually surprised and grateful for so many of you to take the time to research this request and to respond.  I am in your debt.  Dan 
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