Author Topic: Add: Linden Lea


Posted - 27 Oct 04 - 09:29 am

Within the woodlands, flow'ry gladed,
By the oak trees' mossy moot;
The shining grass blades, timber shaded,
Now do quiver under foot;
And birds do whistle overhead,
And water's bubbling in its bed;
And there for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

When leaves, that lately were a-springing,
Now do fade within the copse,
And painted birds do hush their singing
Up upon the timber tops;
And brown leaved fruit's a-turning red,
In cloudless sunshine overhead,
With fruit for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Let other folk make money faster;
In the air of darkened towns;
I don't dread a peevish master.
Though no man may heed my frowns
I be free to go abroad,
Or take again my home-ward road,
To where, for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Source: Singing Together, Summer 1961, BBC Publications


Somewhat confusingly described as "A Dorset Song by Vaughan William, Words by W. Barnes." I am not sure whether this is a melody entirely composed by Vaughan Williams, merely while he was in or thinking of Dorset; or by him in the style of a Dorset folksong (which, of course, he was very familar with), or whether it is the melody of an actual Dorset folksong arranged and adapted to fit the words by W. Barnes ...

Whatever, it became one of my favourite songs the first time I heard it at around seven or eight.


Posted - 27 Oct 04 - 11:51 am

Reading the various Mudcat threads, it seems the Dorset aspect of the song is less to do with Vaughan Williams than with the words, which appear here in a dialect form.

Guest Account
Posted - 03 Feb 05 - 09:55 pm



Pip Freeman

Posted - 04 Feb 05 - 09:34 am

This is one of the loveliest songs that we used to sing at home and at school, I could always picture the scene.

Guest Account
Posted - 28 Feb 06 - 06:37 pm

From: guest account

I too used to sing this song at school at the age of about seven. I wasn't able to appreciate it's beauty in those days but I never forgot it. Roger McGough reminded me of it recently on his poetry slot on Radio 4. I was very pleased to find the poem reproduced on this web site. Thanks.


Jon Freeman

Posted - 28 Feb 06 - 07:05 pm

I'm about the same there Ivor. Learned the song around the same age as you were but didn't appreciate it's beauty till much later. It's long been a much loved song by my mother (Pip)


Posted - 05 Mar 06 - 07:22 pm

To Guest;
I caught that programme too. Had to pull over and listen as I was getting rather lacrymose listening to it.
Amongst the best renditions I've heard was Bonnie Sartin of the Yetties reciting it over the RV-W tune and Gavin Bowie of Winchester Morris singing it!,


Posted - 05 Mar 06 - 08:05 pm

Reciting it to the tune works very well - I remember hearing Mick Groves of the Spinners reciting it over the tune played by the rest of them as part of an EFDSS concert at the Albert Hall in what must have been the early 80's. I don't remember very much else so precisely from that event.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 27 Apr 07 - 01:43 am

I've just had a question via the "contact us form"- can anyone help?

 What is the meaning of "moot" in the context of "The Oak tree's mossy moot"?

 And I've known this song for years  without thinking about it.

Pip Freeman

Posted - 27 Apr 07 - 12:53 pm

A really beautiful song.

A 'moot' is a meeting place and I imagine that people would meet under the shade of the oak tree where the ground was soft and mossy.

I wonder if there was a real Linden Lea, with a lime tree in a meadow, that inspired the words of the song?


Posted - 28 Apr 07 - 06:25 pm

A moot is also, according the the OED, a tree stump.  A bit disappointing, really!

Jon Freeman

Posted - 29 Apr 07 - 10:02 am

Didn't have that meaning in Chambers but I suspect the tree stump is the right one.

Pip Freeman

Posted - 29 Apr 07 - 11:12 am

I discovered this on a website about Devon dialect----

"Thicky gert moot" my grandfather's description of a large old tree stump.

I can imagine a lovely mossy tree stump being a seat at a meeting place.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 07 Nov 08 - 10:57 pm

This came to me via the "contact us" from a Richard Neville and I think (with his permission) is a nice addition to this thread:


I have ADORED this BEAUTIFUL song for as long as I
can mother & my aunt sang it to me
as a small child & I'm 65!...... and I would love
to lay before you a most extraordinary
coincidence:~ We live in West Cornwall & some 5+
years ago a new (male & single & 50'ish) neighbour
moved into the adjoining old property in our
village, & soon thereafter he one day knocked at
our door to introduce himself to me, just as I was
[believe this or not!] 'studying' some old village
documents wherein were details of 'Old Parson
Barnes' who was Breage's vicar back in the 1890's.
Not only THAT, but I was engaged also at the VERY
time in listening to a recording of 'Linden Lea'
whilst ratifying the lyrics [which lay before me]
and upon learning that my new [& very much a
'Gent.'] neighbour's surname was Barnes I
immediately assumed him to be a descendant of the
old Parson, my assumption being based upon the
fact that most Cornish folk gravitate back to
their county & even village of origin! (Now, I
MUST also record that AT THE VERY TIME of this I
was QUITE UNAWARE that William Barnes penned
'Linden Lea' 's beautiful lyrics back in the 19th.
century).....So.o.o.o! When I asked new neighbour
Barnes if he was a descendant of the old Parson he
said 'No.....but I AM the great, great, great,
great, great grandson of the Dorset Poet William
Barnes who penned that rather lovely old song
'Linden Lea'......have you ever heard of him or
it?' You may imagine the response I gave; not only
had I heard of it, I had been working on it as he
called on me!!!!!!
There is MUCH more to this tale of bizarre
coincidence but I have tested your patience enough
I'm sure! Suffice to say that's how it happened,
although it's pretty hard to believe I still makes me feel a bit odd when I
think of the uncanniness of the coincidence, quite
amazing it was!
Incidentally, referring back to 'oak tree's mossy
moot'~~~~never mind stuff about 'moot points &
courts' MOOT in this context was merely implying
'mound' where the massive roots of the oak heaved
upward.....think 'motte & bailey' in castle
building......a RAISED mound with a protective
wall upon it......from 'Verye Olde Englishe'!

Pip Freeman

Posted - 09 Nov 08 - 11:25 am

What an amazing coincidence, thank you for sharing it.

I shall probably be singing Linden Lea all day now.

Old Songster

Posted - 29 Jan 09 - 10:02 am

I found this site while searching for a line of the second verse of "Linden Lea."
I live in Pukekawa, New Zealand and surprisingly when we purchased this property we inherited not only some beautiful old oak trees but a grove of several Limes.
On seeing them the song sprang immediately to mind from all of 50 years ago.
Cheers Judy Skinner.

Mr Happy

Posted - 01 Feb 09 - 01:17 pm

The first version I heard many years ago, from a late uncle's record collection, was of John McCormack

Some more info here about William Barnes

Jon Freeman

Posted - 01 Feb 09 - 03:21 pm

We have the (I think) same recording here Mr. Happy. It's one of the rare LPs where my father sort of meets folk.

Posted - 06 Feb 09 - 01:54 pm

Thank-you very much for your tribute to this great song. I am months away from my 40th B-day and have grown brutally nostalgic. With this song I won a vocal compitition. My grandmother lived in Texas in a nursing home while I live in Idaho(needless to say in the U.S.) So I sent her the ribbon which she kept til the day she died. Her grandchildren there sent it back to me 18 years later. I was glad to see how moved you were by this song. I was surprised to learn the version of sheet music I have has the lyrics translated into French as well.


Posted - 14 Feb 09 - 05:36 pm

I have to add my memories of Linden Lea. I, too, must have first been exposed to it through Singing Together (with Mr. Appleby?)And the tune was set for 'O' level music practical a few years later. I still play it on tenor recorder and am working up an arrangement of the tune on hammered dulcimer. Another William Barnes poem which always brings tears to my eyes and a wrenching at my heart is The Voices That Be Gone.

Posted - 28 Apr 10 - 06:28 pm

At 72, I am older than all of you, but I remember Linden Lea from when I was a child. I can't remember exactly when - during the war or just just after - but it used to be played on the radio from time to time. The singer was the tenor, Heddle Nash. There were several beautiful songs that everyone in England seemed to know. Linden Lea was one and Silent Worship (by Handel, words by Alexander Pope) was another. I'm sorry to say that you would wait in vain for a very long time before anything like that tuened up today, even on the BBC.


Posted - 26 May 10 - 11:25 pm

What does the poem lindean lea mean I know it was a folk song but
What was the song written about

Jon Freeman

Posted - 27 May 10 - 11:38 am

At a guess, the poem (later set to music) might have been about a spot William Barnes was quite fond of. 

To quote from the Wikipidia article Mr Happy linked to above,

"Barnes's poems are characterised by a singular sweetness and tenderness of feeling, deep insight into humble country life and character, and an exquisite feeling for local scenery."

Perhaps this was some local scenery?

Ted _Thornton

Posted - 24 Jun 10 - 07:21 pm

We sang this song at school in the 1930s. I had no idea what a "moot" was, and probably didn't much care. This morning at 83 years of age the words "by the oak tree's mossy moot" came back to me. I looked up moot in the New Oxford Dictionary of English, but got no help there. Some of the comments of your members have been very interesting and useful. Maybe a long lasting conundrum has evertually been solved!


Posted - 02 Sep 10 - 04:08 pm

Just trying to find words to a song I have been fond of since my grandfather sang it at musical evenings in his drawing room - chairs drawn up as in a theatre - local folk in for an evening of home entertainment, every one adding something - local doctor playing the piano, with very short stubby fingers - me aged 8 in 1946- and bingo! here is your great web site ....thankyou. (other songs he sang were Myself when young - the lost chord - Masefield songs, more, more and many more, the Boosey and co. paper copies are with me still, battered and tattered and unsung now! but still a joy.)

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z