The group was initially formed to revive West Gallery Music. These were songs and carols, usually in four-part harmony, which were performed in church galleries during the 18th and 19th centuries. The tradition died out due to various changes in society, including churches adopting organs and harmoniums, thus no longer needing the local band – a process described in Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree. An interesting short introduction to West Gallery music can be found on the West Gallery Music Association website
Many of the old songs and tunes were collected by various people who could see these pieces were going to be lost if not written down, as the old tradition relied on people learning the words and music by ear and remembering it to pass it on to the next generation. Thomas Hardy was one collector, while the Hammond brothers traveled Dorset on their bicycles in the early twentieth century collecting no less than 648 songs: there is a fascinating description of their work on the pages of the William Barnes Society website.
We list below our repertoire to date, with details of origin, arranger and date of first performance.
An Anthem from Isaiah 9 verse 6 for Christmas Day by William Knapp, A Sett of New Psalm Tunes and Anthems, 1738. Edited by A.D. Townsend; instrumental parts, Phil Humphries. 2015.
An Anthem Psalm the 18th by William Knapp, edited by Dave Townsend. This work was dedicated the town of Blandford after a huge fire destroyed most of the town in 1731. William Knapp was a prolific composer originally from Wareham, later becoming Parish Clerk at St James’ Church in Poole; his hymn tune “Wareham” is still in use today.
As Pants the Hart From Somerset and Dorset sources, 1776/1884. 2018
The Astrologer Traditional, collected by the Hammonds from Marina Russell, Upwey, 1906/7. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2014.
Awake and Join the Cheerful Choir W.C. Cocker, Piddletown, 15 October 1827. Edited by A.D. Townsend. 2014.
Away Dark Thoughts William Lake, Winterborne Monkton,1834. Edited by A.D. Townsend. 2013.
Behold Good News to Man is Come From the Hardy Family MSS, performed by the Hardy Players in the 1908 production of Under the Greenwood Tree; arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
Behold the Morning Star Arise Hardy MSS and W.C. Cocker. Edited by Mike Bailey. 2015.
Blue and Buff Jig, Darby Kelly Jig, Captain Dyke, Persian Waltz (instrumental) Benjamin Rose 1820. Arranged by Tim Laycock & Colin Thompson. 2015.
Brown’s Splendour A carol from Fordington, edited by Paul Guppy.
The Doctor’s Round Words and music by Tim Laycock. 2015.
Dorset Words by Sir John Betjeman, music by Phil Humphries. 2018.
Dribbles of Brandy (instrumental). Hardy family manuscripts.
The Eagel [sic] (instrumental). Benjamin Rose 1820.
Enrico (instrumental). Hardy MSS. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2015.
The Founders of our Hospital Written by Tim Laycock, arranged by Phil Humphries. Part of a project to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Dorset County Hospital; premiered at the Dorset County Museum on 31 April 2016. The lyrics are based on archives of the hospital researched by Mark Collyer. A video of the performance can be accessed here. 2016.
Four and Twenty Fiddlers A traditional cumulative song, from John Hallet of Mosterton. Arranged by Tim Laycock. 2017.
Great Things A poem by Thomas Hardy, arranged by Lizzie Lucas to a traditional tune, and incorporating Here’s a Health to all Good Lasses, The Fairy Dance, and The Sheep Shearing Song arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
The Green Man Song Words from the family of Dorothy Lawrence. Melody by Tim Laycock, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2016.
Hail Ever Hail, Auspicious Morn Jos. Richards, Australia. 2018.
Hail Happy Morn James Saunders His Book, 1842, Puddletown. A recording of this carol from a very early concert can be heard here. Edited by A.D. Townsend. 2013.
Hark Hark, How Sweet the Sound Comes In A carol collected from Thomas Hames’s 1851 manuscript of carols and psalms from Hinton St Mary by A.D. Townsend. 2016.
Hark, the Herald Angel Sing Durweston MS. Arranged by Trevor H. Lloyd Jones. 2015.
The Humstrum Setting of a William Barnes poem about this old country instrument by Anna Eveleigh-Morse. 2018. (You can hear the humstrum – and the serpent – played by Phil Humphries, with the poem read by Tim Laycock here.)
I Live Not Where I Love Collected from Robert Barratt in Puddletown.
In Praise of Dorset Apples Words and music by Ridgeway member, Anna Eveleigh-Morse. Click here to see what she says about it. 2016.
January Waltz (instrumental) A tune by Nick Dunckley, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
Lady Elizabeth’s Hornpipe & Mariner’s Hornpipe (instrumental). Benjamin Rose MS, 1820. Arranged by Tim Laycock & Colin Thompson. 2014.
The Levelled Churchyard Words by Thomas Hardy, music by Anna Eveleigh-Morse. Click here to see what she says about it. 2017.
Linden Lea Words by William Barnes, music by R. Vaughan Williams. Arranged by Alec Rowley, transcribed for choir and band by Phil Humphries. 2017.
Lord Nelson’s Hornpipe (instrumental). 2018.
Melbury Osmond Wassail The only wassail song from Dorset of which we know. The words were collected by Thomas Hardy. Melody by Tim Laycock, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2016.
My Life’s a Shade Music by William Knapp, New Church Melody, 1751, edited by Phil Humphries. 2017.
My Rosebud in June Collected by the Hammonds from George Dowden, Lackington., arranged by Tim Laycock. 2014.
New Poole – Psalm 107 vs 23 Music by William Knapp, New Church Melody, 1751, edited by Rollo Woods. 2015.
Newton’s Double A West Gallery version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, from a Poole MS, 1836; arranged by D.T. Townsend. 2019.
Nothing At All Collected by the Hammonds from Robert Barrett. Arranged by Lizzie Lucas. 2018.
O What Unbounded Goodness Lord W.C. Cocker Piddletown 15 October 1827. Edited by A.D. Townsend. 2015.
One Night As I Lay On My Bed Collected by the Hammonds from Marina Russell, Upwey. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2017.
Old Foster From a number of sources, adapted by Phil Humphries. 2018.
Otford A version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night, from the Hardy family MSS, arranged by D.T. Townsend. 2019.
The Perfect Cure (instrumental) Traditional. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2016.
Queen Jane Collected by the Hammonds from Henry Marsh, 1906. Queen Jane was collected by Henry and Robert Hammond from a singer called Henry Marsh. Henry was living in Dorchester at the time, although he came from Powerstock. Usually, The Hammonds usually only note down very brief details about their singers, and it is often just the name of the village or town and the month and year the song was collected. In the case of Mr Marsh, they had noted that he was in the Workhouse, and then crossed that information out, and said he was living in SW Villas near the railway station. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2016.
The Recov’ry (instrumental) Benjamin Rose 1820. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2016.
Rejoice Good Christian Folk and Sing Words by Ridgeway member, Pip Bowell: click here to read about it. Melody and arrangement by Phil Humphries. 2014.
Rejoice Ye Tenants of the Earth From Puddletown, William Gifford’s Twelve New Psalm Tunes, 1804. Edited by A.D. Townsend. 2014.
The Ridgeway Carol: One Bright Star Tim Laycock, Dorset’s well-known folk musician, actor and storyteller, wrote The Ridgeway Carol after looking at a map of the Ridgeway and discerning various attributes linked to the Christmas story. These include the Bronze Age barrows called the Five Marys; Hardy’s monument (comemorating Nelson’s captain at Trafalgar); the White King (a horse cut into a chalk hillside near Weymouth) and the world famous Chesil Beach. Words and melody by Tim Laycock, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2014.
Rolling Home Traditional sea shanty collected by Stan Hugill. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2015.
The Shepherds Amazed Found in Bridport, Dorset and Marsh Baldon, Oxfordshire, arranged by D.T. Townsend. 2019.
Shepherd’s Arise! Be not afraid A Collection of Dorset Gallery Carols, 1926, from Winterborne Zelstone. Arranged by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge. 2017.
Shepherds Keeping Watch by Night A Collection of Dorset Carols, 1926, from the Piddle Valley. Arranged by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge. 2013.
The Skylark o’er the Moor (instrumental) A tune by Nick Dunckley, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
Softly the Night is Stealing Lyrics by Washburn, Rev. Jonathan Still’s family carol. Tune Massah M. Warner. 2016.
A Song for Loders Words by Leonard Clarke, tune by Tim Laycock, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
Speaking Figure / Harlequin Gardener / Ferry Boat (instrumental). Benjamin Rose MS, 1820. Arranged by Tim Laycock & Colin Thompson, edited by Phil Humphries. 2017.
Tink a Tink (instrumental) From the Hardy family manuscripts, arranged by Phil Humphries. 2019.
The Unquiet Grave Collected by the Hammonds from Jane Hann, Stoke Abbott, June 1906. Arranged by Phil Humphries. 2014.
Waterloo Dance (instrumental) Benjamin Rose MS, 1820. Arranged by Tim Laycock & Colin Thompson. 2015.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night Melody collected by the Hammonds from William Scott of Pulham, Dorset, 1905. Reconstructed by Tim Laycock and Phil Humphries. 2014.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night Martinstown MS. 2013.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night a version called Otford, from the Hardy family manuscripts, arranged by D.T. Townsend. 2019.
The Ridgeway Choir. To further add to our repertoire, singer Philip Bowell wrote a poem about us.