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Black Degree, The

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Alternative title: Black Decree, The

Place Collected: West Dean
Date collected: 1977 (19 Nov)
Roud Number: 2429

This somber song, properly known as “The Black Decree” although Mr Williams sang it as “The Black Degree”, can be traced back over 200 years when it was printed on broadsides as “Let Christians all with one accord”.  It was reprinted several times, including in “A Good Christmas Box”, a collection of religious songs printed in 1847 in Dudley and possibly the source for traditional versions.  It is very rare in oral tradition and singers have picked it up from verse 11 rather than from the start.  Most of the collected versions are from a few singers in Herefordshire and Mr Williams’ version is a rarity and the only audio field recording every made of the song.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 11 February 2016