The Ash Grove
is a traditional Welsh
Wales has a strong and distinctive link with music. The country is traditionally referred to as "the land of song". This is a modern stereotype based on 19th century conceptions of Nonconformist choral music and 20th century male voice choirs, Eisteddfodau and arena singing, such as sporting...
folk song whose melody has been set to numerous sets of lyrics. The most well-known was written, in English, by John Oxenford
John Oxenford , English dramatist, was born at Camberwell, London, England.-Life:He began his literary career by writing on finance...
in the 19th century.
The first published version of the tune was in 1802 in "The Bardic Museum". The book was written by Edward Jones
Edward, Eddie, or Ed Jones is the name of:Finance* Edward Jones , co-founder of Dow Jones & Company* Edward D. Jones , investment banker** Edward Jones Investments, company founded by Edward D. Jones...
, a harpist. About 4 years later a version with words appeared, under the name "Llwyn Onn". It tells of a sailor's love for "Gwen of Llwyn". The tune might be much older, as a similar tune appears in "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay (1728), in the song "Cease Your Funning". In 1922 , however Kidson claimed that John Gay's tune derives from the morris dance
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers...
tune "Constant Billy", which is first known in Playford's "Dancing Master".
The tune of "The Ash Grove" is used for the hymn "Let All Things Now Living" in 1939 by composer Katherine K. Davis
Katherine Kennicott Davis was a composer, pianist, and author of the famous Christmas tune "The Little Drummer Boy".-Biography:...
. This hymnal version resulted in it being included on a number of Christmas albums up through the 1950s; like Jan August's 1955 album "Christmas Favorites" (Mercury Records #MG 20160). It was in use as a hymnal long before the 20th century under the title "The Master Hath Come" by Sarah Doudney (1871) and has been updated since in a retelling of the nativity by Robert Cullinan as "On This Night, Most Holy" (1996). Around 1962 another song called "The Irish Free State" was written to this tune. "The Ash Grove" featured in the 1980 BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
mini-series Pride and Prejudice
Ed Pearl's Ash Grove
The Ash Grove was a folk music club located at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, founded in 1958 by Ed Pearl and named after the Welsh folk song, "The Ash Grove."...
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....
club at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...
was named after the song. The Ash Grove opened in 1958 and closed in 1973. The Greenbriar Boys
The Greenbriar Boys were a seminal northern bluegrass music group who first got together in jam sessions in New York's Washington Square Park. Along with the New Lost City Ramblers, their urban traditional country sound inspired a generation of musicians and fans.-Biography:In 1959,...
, Lightnin' Hopkins
Sam John Hopkins better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, from Houston, Texas...
, Mississippi John Hurt
John Smith Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt was an American country blues singer and guitarist.Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, Hurt taught himself how to play the guitar around age nine...
, Doc Watson
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson is an American guitar player, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. He has won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson's flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded...
, Ry Cooder
Ryland Peter "Ry" Cooder is an American guitarist, singer and composer. He is known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and, more recently, his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.His solo work has been eclectic, encompassing...
and many others performed there.
The ash grove how graceful, how plainly 'tis speaking
The harp through its playing has language for me.
Whenever the light through its branches is breaking,
A host of kind faces is gazing on me.
The friends from my childhood again are before me
Each step wakes a memory as freely I roam.
With soft whispers laden the leaves rustle o’er me
The ash grove, the ash grove alone is my home.
Down yonder green meadow where streamlets meander
When twilight is fading I pensively roam
Or in the bright noon tide in solitude wander
Amid the dark spaces of that lonely ash grove.
‘Twas there while the black bird was cheerfully singing
I first met my dear one the joy of my heart
Around us for gladness the blue bells were springing
The ash grove, the ash grove that sheltered my home.
My lips smile no more, my heart loses its lightness;
No dream of the future my spirit can cheer.
I only can brood on the past and its brightness
The dear ones I long for again gather here.
From ev'ry dark nook they press forward to meet me;
I lift up my eyes to the broad leafy dome,
And others are there, looking downward to greet me
The ash grove, the ash grove, again is my home.