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This programme has been presented many times, often in a short, one-hour version as entertainment following a harvest supper. Readings tell of village customs associated with farming, and some startling country anecdotes. The long programme appears here, and the short programme contains some of the same music.

Our handout programme contains all the words needed to join in.

Our programmes are continually improved, and different music may be substituted from time to time.

The Sheep-Shearing: We play our own arrangement of this traditional tune.

Stonefield or Doversdale is a widespread metrical psalm tune by Samuel Stanley (1767-1822) of Birmingham. The words are some of the harvest verses from Psalm 104 New Version.

Harvest Home appeared in King Arthur (1691) by Purcell, was included by Sandys in his Festive Songs (1856), and in many folk-song anthologies since. We have added a couple of verses written by Terry Savage, one of our altos. Please join in.

Morris Dance: This traditional dance from Bampton, Oxfordshire, is to a variant of the tune Princess Royal, composed by the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). When danced as a duet, the competition between the two dancers is evident.

Sheep-shearing was collected in Dorset in 1906. Many variants are known, and Thomas Hardy quotes from this one. We sing our own harmonisation.

Anthem from Psalm 65 by William Cole(1737-1824): Verses 9-13 are often set in village collections because of the harvest references. Cole's setting of the prose Psalm, published in 1768, shows some nice word- painting. We have added an instrumental bass part to two of the duets. Competent country musicians might be expected to improvise such a part.

The Farmer’s Toast was collected in Portsmouth Workhouse in 1907. We sing our own arrangement. Please join in the chorus:

    I have lawns, I have bowers, I have fields, I have flowers, etc.

The Barley Mow: Please join in our traditional Hampshire version of this widespread cumulative song extolling the people involved in the crop and its journey to the tankard.

Fish Street Psalm 67 New Version: Psalm 67 was sung at harvest time as a thanksgiving. We have included two verses particularly appropriate to harvest. The tune is by Joseph Stephenson (d.1810) as found in MSS in Bramley, north east Hampshire.


Hop & Skip Polka is from James Kerr's fourth collection of tunes, published in Glasgow about 100 years ago. We play our own arrangement.

The Gallant Poacher has been collected in several rural counties, so presumably tells a familiar tale. We sing our own arrangement.

Dance: Dorset Four-Hand Reel: The origins of the dance are unclear, but it does seem to be from Dorset. There may have been a competitive element to the stepping, and many different steps are reported.

Harvest Song: We arranged this from Lucy Broadwood's English County Songs, published about 1893, which attributes it to a lady in Downton, between Fordingbridge and Salisbury. Please join in the chorus.

Seal Psalm 145 Old Version: This tune first appeared in Michael Beesly's Collection ca.1746. These verses of the Psalm are often used to this day in harvest services.

Psalm 65 New Version: We have chosen five tunes for verses 9-13, all of which are associated with Psalm 65 in village sources:

  • Frome is from the manuscript of Henry Hoddinott of Frome.
  • St Olave's is by Mary Hudson (1766-1801). She was organist at St. Olave, Hart St., London from 1781.
  • Martins Lane appeared in several printed collections from 1784 onwards.
  • Wimborne was called St. Mark's Talbot Village (a new model village in 1842, now part of Bournemouth) by the minister there, who told us that the church carillon plays it. It was published in the Union Tune Book, and probably dates from the 1830's.
  • New Sabbath first appeared in 1788, and was mentioned by Thomas Hardy in A Church Romance.

Ocean was written by Supply Belcher of Farmington, Maine, and published in 1794. The words are from part 2 of Isaac Watts' paraphrase of Psalm 89.

Creation is adapted from The Heavens are telling in Haydn's oratorio of 1800. It appeared a few years later set to With glory clad, with strength array'd (Psalm 93 New Version). Our words were written about 1837 by Jacob Brettell (1798-1862), a Unitarian Pastor. Please join in - the last two lines of each verse are repeated.

    The last full wain has come, has come! etc.

Harvest Home is an anonymous metrical setting of the parable of the sower. The setting is from the Centenary Tune Book (1891), published to commemorate John Wesley’s death 100 years before.

Nelson’s March: This setting, from a Widecombe MS, is one of few such pieces to survive with instrumental parts.

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