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The Sprig of Thyme

Traditional songs

The Cambridge Singers | City of London Sinfonia
John Rutter (conductor)


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The Sprig of Thyme offers a selection of traditional songs of the British Isles, drawing together long-standing favourites as Willow Song and The Miller of Dee with lesser known gems as O Can Ye Sew Cushions and The Sprig of Thyme. Many new settings for choir and small instrumental group have been created by John Rutter especially for this album. Rutter’s suite of eleven traditional songs, The Sprig of Thyme (all of which can be heard on this album) is published by Oxford University Press.

Track list

  1. The Sprig of Thyme: The bold grenadier (arr. Rutter)
  2. The Sprig of Thyme: The keel row (arr. Rutter)
  3. The Sprig of Thyme: The willow tree (arr. Rutter)
  4. The Sprig of Thyme: The Sprig of Thyme (arr. Rutter)
  5. The Sprig of Thyme: Down by the Sally Gardens (arr. Rutter)
  6. The Sprig of Thyme: The cuckoo (arr. Rutter)
  7. The Sprig of Thyme: I know where I'm going (arr. Rutter)
  8. The Sprig of Thyme: Willow song (arr. Rutter)
  9. The Sprig of Thyme: O can ye sew cushions (arr. Rutter)
  10. The Sprig of Thyme: The miller of Dee (arr. Rutter)
  11. The Sprig of Thyme: Afton water (arr. Rutter)
  12. Five Traditional Songs: The girl I left behind me (arr. Rutter)
  13. Five Traditional Songs: O waly, waly (arr. Rutter)
  14. Five Traditional Songs: The British Grenadiers (arr. Rutter)
  15. Five Traditional Songs: Golden Slumbers (arr. Rutter)
  16. Five Traditional Songs: Dashing away with the smoothing iron (arr. Rutter)
  17. The Lark in the Clear Air (arr. Andrew Carter)
  18. She's like the swallow (arr. E. Chapman)
  19. Searching for lambs (arr. Rutter)
  20. Five English Folk Songs: The dark eyed sailor (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  21. Five English Folk Songs: The spring time of the year (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  22. Five English Folk Songs: Just as the tide was flowing (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  23. Five English Folk Songs: The lover's ghost (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  24. Five English Folk Songs: Wassail song (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  25. She moved through the fair (arr. Daryl Runswick)

“This is a lovely disc; one to head my list of Christmas presents for musical friends…” Gramophone

“Those of us who grew up in an era when classroom singing was de rigueur can only despair for the children today who may never experience the delights of singing nursery rhymes, folk-songs and hymn tunes. Remember Dashing away with the smoothing iron, The British Grenadiers, The keel row, The miller of Dee and many more? John Rutter not only provides those of us over 30 with a healthy dollop of nostalgia, but gives these songs a whole new lease of life in some characteristically scrumptuous arrangements. He is supported beyond all dreams by this outstanding group of singers. This is a lovely disc; one to head my list of Christmas presents for musical friends.” Gramophone

“The premise here is simple and appealing: traditional (folk-)songs arranged for choir and in many cases, a small orchestra. The essence of the music is from the British Isles, spanning a range of themes from love to soldiering, the sea, nature and of course, the lullaby. The folk origins aside, perhaps the credit to be raised here is towards the arrangers – John Rutter himself of course, master of this sweet genre. His additions for oboe, flute, violin and such like are tiny wonders, perhaps nothing original, yet undeniably pleasant. For example, the calls of the flute in the title work, The lark in the clear air, obviously alluding to the bird; or the sweet yet pensive contributions of the clarinet in Down by the sally gardens. At the same time there are famous tunes in Rutter’s totally fun arrangements, like The British Grenadiers, light-heartedly; The keel row with its pixie-ish woodwind accompaniment; or the gaiety and sunniness of The girl I left behind me – every one here is a complete triumph on this album – I can’t imagine any choral person hearing this without developing a desperate desire to acquire the score!” The Flying Inkpot

“This superb collection of traditional English songs, arranged by R. Vaughan Williams and John Rutter, is drawn from nursery rhymes, scout camps, and hymns from High Church assemblies. Sung in the peerless tones of The Cambridge Singers, these humble songs echo the gentility and cultural nationalism of postwar England. Included are bold drinking songs, tender lullabies, and love songs of fragile beauty. They bring delight and pleasure from a vanished age.” AllMusic

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