This carol was composed in March 2009 and bears a dedication to Jeremy Backhouse and the Vasari Singers, with whom Pott has enjoyed a fruitful creative relationship over recent years. The folk ballad style of the anonymous, traditional text lent itself well to a musical setting that preserved the original strophic arrangement, and this in turn encouraged the use of textural variation in successive verses to offset repetition of the same musical material. One ‘verse’ of music actually spans two verses of text, and therefore the first verse of the poem is here repeated before the fifth and last of the original, an arrangement which permits three complete musical presentations. In the second of these, the melody is sung by the tenors against a flowing, wordlessly hushed background. In the third, the melody deviates slightly, presenting its central material slightly higher in pitch to create a restrained climax before a slower, more melancholic peroration.
Over the past twenty-five years Francis Pott has acquired an international reputation as a composer of dramatic and emotionally challenging music. His writing unites a distinctive personal voice with a highly disciplined yet versatile technique that is rooted in a keen awareness of the past. Including a steady flow of major commissions, his works are regularly performed, recorded, and broadcast throughout the world. Formerly Lecturer in Music at St Hilda's College, Oxford, he is currently Professor of Composition at London College of Music, Thames Valley University.