Three English Folk Song Miniatures

England, in common with many countries, has a long and distinguished tradition of folk song and an aural tradition dating back many centuries. Composers such as Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams led a renewal of interest in this heritage in the early 1900s and collected many folk songs from various parts of the country, writing down many for the first time.

DANCE TO YOUR DADDY is also sometimes called When the Boat Comes In and hails from the fishing villages of the north-east, particularly Northumberland. Its lyrics describe a mother promising her son, whose father is a fisherman, that he shall have a fishy when the boat comes in and telling him how his life will turn out if he follows his father’s worthy example.

O WALY, WALY is a love song which Cecil Sharp collected in Somerset. Also known as The Water is Wide, the song dates back to the 1600s and there are many variants, especially in Scotland. It is a lover’s lament and describes love as ‘bright as a jewel’ even though it can sometimes grow old and fade away.

BOBBY SHAFTO also originates in the north-east. It is believed that the original Bobby Shafto was Irish, but the song was used in as political propaganda for the Durham Member of Parliament, Robert Shafto (1730-97), when his supporters added new verses to aid his election campaign.


As with all of Anglo Music’s Grade 1 and 1˝ publications, the generic Tenor and Bass parts in this arrangement allow bands with incomplete instrumentation to produce a full sound at all times. These parts should be distributed equally among the available instruments.