The Gurt Black Dog of Somerset (Oliver Barton)

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  • CPDL #06674:  Network.png PDF, MIDI and Finale 2004 files
Editor: Oliver Barton (submitted 2004-02-10).   Score information: A4, 10 pages, 469 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: 2 versions, for SATB unaccompanied, or SATB & piano

General Information

Title: The Gurt Black Dog of Somerset
Composer: Oliver Barton
Lyricist: Martin Forrestcreate page

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: Piano

(or a cappella)

First published:

Description: The absolutely true tale of a cottager who walks up the Quantock hills (in Somerset, England) only for the mist to come down. A muzzle presses into his hand - "Aha!" he cries, "'Tis my faithful sheepdog Shep come to guide me home." But when he reaches home and opens his cottage door, there is Shep inside. Who then guided him home?

Originally for choir and piano, with interesting effects to convey such things as a phantom dog growing in size and disappearing. The unaccompanied version was made for four solo voices, with the interesting effects realised somewhat differently.

Original text and translations

English.png English text

1. A kind and gentle cottager
There once did live, ’tis said
Near Bicknoller in Somerset
Not far from Quantoxhead.
He chose to climb the Quantock Hills
One dreary winter’s day;
Through Weacombe and towards the top
He went his cheerful way.
Good countryfolk of Somerset, whoever ye may be,
The Gurt Black Dog up over, he’ll take care of ye.

2. But then all unexpectedly
Just as his goal was neared,
A seaborne mist so damp and cold
There suddenly appeared.
That he might freeze to death with cold
To him it did occur;
But as he groped his cautious way
He felt, he felt a coat of fur.
Good countryfolk of Somerset, whoever ye may be,
The Gurt Black Dog up over, he’ll take care of ye.

3. ’Twas his old faithful sheepdog, Shep,
The cottager believed,
Who’d come to guide him safely home;
So he was much relieved.
He followed, as he thought, his Shep;
“Whoame boy, whoame boy,” he cried
But when they reached the cottage door,
His own dog was inside.
Good countryfolk of Somerset, whoever ye may be,
The Gurt Black Dog up over, he’ll take care of ye.

4. Just then he spied his guide dog:
It slowly grew in size;
Then gradually it disappeared
Before his very eyes.
Who was it then who’d brought him back
To safety through the fog?
“God bless him,” cried the cottager,
“It was the Gurt Black Dog!”
Good countryfolk of Somerset, whoever ye may be,
The Gurt Black Dog up over, he’ll take care of ye.