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At the heart of English folk

Folk Chorus Songs Selection

Folk Chorus Songs Selection

One type of song that has remained popular across English speaking traditions is the ‘chorus song’.  These are often led by one singer (in a pub, for example) with the community joining in with the repeated chorus, refrain or burden. This can be simple unison or improvised harmonies of varying levels of complexity. You can hear (and join in with) chorus songs in many folk clubs, singarounds, concerts and festivals.

In the Folk Chorus Songs Selection pack, available from the PDF tab at the top of this panel, are some well-known chorus songs to provide some starting points for social singing from The Full English digital archive. Due to their popularity many of these songs are geographically widespread and may appear in many versions with all kinds of variation in words and melody.  Audio recordings of each song are available for free download from the Audio tab at the top of the panel.  The songs have been recorded by Ben Moss and Laurel Swift (

We have presented examples from various collections in the digital archive, together with ‘standard’ versions of the lyrics and tunes you might hear today.  Where the printed words here differ from those in the digital archive, it is because we have presented a common form of the song for broadest social appeal. Other interesting and unusual versions often exist within the digital archive which you can access at  We have provided the Roud Number for each song, which you can use in the online Advanced Search to locate different variants of the songs presented here.

There are many different types of songs from a range of historical periods which reflect both the social climate at the time of their creation and some of the tastes of those groups and individuals who continued to sing and adapt them.  You can find out more about different types of songs at


The songs in the pack are:

- The Barley Mow (Harry Albino Collection)

- The Sweet Nightingale (Sabine Baring Gould Collection)

- Fathom The Bowl (Clive Carey Collection)

- Young Banker (Percy Grainger/Frank Kidson Collections)

- Pleasant and Delightful (Collinson Collection)

- The Farmer’s Boy (Lucy Broadwood Collection)

- Abroad for Pleasure (Lucy Broadwood Collection)


More videos

  • Audio 01: The Barley Mow - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(2.84MB) ogg(3.57MB)
  • Audio 02: Sweet Nightingale - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(4.33MB) ogg(5.11MB)
  • Audio 03: Fathom The Bowl - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(4.28MB) ogg(5.24MB)
  • Audio 04: Young Banker - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(4.30MB) ogg(5.39MB)
  • Audio 05: Pleasant and Delightful - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(4.65MB) ogg(5.69MB)
  • Audio 06: The Farmer's Boy - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(4.04MB) ogg(4.98MB)
  • Audio 07: Abroad for Pleasure - Ben Moss and Laurel Swift

    Download: mp3(2.65MB) ogg(3.28MB)

Maps on the Full English site related to this item

Note that these links take you to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website which holds the full archival details of the material. Material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website is not censored or expurgated and may contain material considered offensive by modern standards.