If a country singer only knows one song, it is this one, and most people in England can sing at least the chorus. The song reeks of Victorian sentimentality but its very singability has ensured that it continues in oral circulation. It can certainly be dated to the first half of the 19th century and was often printed on broadsides. Nearly all versions these days are to the same familiar tune, but Mr Lane’s tune is distinctive and possibly older. Mr Lane also knew the more standard tune. It has been collected all over England and even in Canada and the USA.
Notes by Gwilym Davies 28 March 2015