This song has its origins in England and Scotland, and is listed in the authoritative collection of folk songs by Francis J. Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) [Child #209]. It is the song about a man accused of robbery who is eventually convicted and sentenced to hang. Tradition has it that if a judge looked over his right shoulder when passing sentence, it was an indication of mercy and clemency. To look over his left shoulder would have confirmed the guilt of the accused. In this variant, the judge looks over his right shoulder in verse 3, yet "...Your Geordie is condemned forever." Quite possibly the significance of which shoulder he might look over was unknown to the singer of this version.

This S.A.T.B. arrangement starts with a baritone solo that could alternately be sung by tenor, or transposed higher for alto or soprano. The arrangement makes use of changing time signatures, changing beat subdivision, and somewhat complex tonal relationships at times. This could be done by a community choir that is used to music that is a bit more difficult than standard community fare. It's a better fit for smaller, auditioned chamber choirs.

The melody as it appears in this arrangement was collected by Dr. Helen Creighton, sung for her by Mr. John Bray of Glencoe, Nova Scotia. It can be found in Traditional Songs from Nova Scotia.

Click "VIEW SCORE SAMPLE" on the repertoire list page to see the first 2 pages of this arrangement.


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