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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Matthew Edwards Lyr Req: Raven's Feather (The) (10) RE: Lyr Req: Raven's Feather (The) 28 Nov 12

Hi Alan,

As Paul Davenport has written in reply to your query about the lyrics to 'Near Scarborough Town' it is very difficult to know what songs Vaughan Williams was referring to in his mss notebooks. It was hard for him to collect both the tune and the words on every occasion, and it seems he often focussed on the tunes, expecting to be able to find a set of words elsewhere. Unfortunately some of the working titles he used in his notebooks are, as you have found, frankly mystifying. It might be possible to match some tunes from the mss with tunes of other possible versions, but even so we still can't be 100% sure what the song was that Vaughan Williams actually heard, and sadly we will never know what the words were that the singer sang.

In the case of the 'Raven's Feather' the Roud Index gives an alternate title of 'Cruel Father' which suggests it might be a version of the broadside ballad The Cruel Father and Affectionate Lovers as found in the Bodleian Collection, since the first verse does contain the phrase "Her hair was black as a raven's feather..."


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