This collection has been made to meet the requirements of the Board of Education, and is composed of melodies strictly pertaining to the people, to which words have been set, as closely adhering to the original as was possible, considering the purpose of the book. We may add that every one of the tunes in this book has been taken down by ourselves from the mouths of the people, with the exception of three contributed by Lady Lethbridge.
It is as well to consider that the published and MS. music of the days of Charles II and of those subsequent is not, for the most part, the music of the people, but of composers trained in the Italian school; and such music, though appreciated in the concert-room and drawing-room, never soaked into and affected to any appreciable extent the popular mind and influenced the popular taste. Our English peasantry clung to their ancient melodies, and modified them imperceptibly as time went on, but the current of folk-song never mingled with the stream of classic music in England.
We have included a certain number of Ballads. Now the British ballad is vastly lengthy. We have felt ourselves constrained to curtail them to some extent. But it must not be supposed that a child objects to a long ballad that unfolds a story—far from it; the child relishes it. We have also been forced to prune the redundancy of syllables in some lines. Old ballad singers were supremely indifferent as to the number of words they crowded into their lines, and they managed to get them in to their music as best they could. But for the use of children it was deemed advisable to equalise the number of syllables in a line.
A few Nursery Rhymes for Infants have been added.
We have finally to acknowledge our great indebtedness to Messrs. Methuen for allowing us to reproduce in this collection Nos. 7, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 & 36 from our Songs of the West: Nos. 8, 33, 34, 35, and 48 from the Garland of Country Song; also to the Rev. C. Marson, co-editor with Mr. Sharp in Folk-songs from Somerset, for consenting to the inclusion in this book, of .Nos,. %,;x,-^\ 6, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 25, likewise to Lady Lethbridge for -'contributing Nos. 14; 49, and 50, which she learned from her nurse and her father. ; ;'■•
English Folk-songs for Schools.