O who will o'er the downs so free (Robert Lucas Pearsall)

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Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2019-11-27).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 78 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: ATTB version. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
  • (Posted 2018-07-22)   CPDL #50593:   
Editor: Francis Melville (submitted 2018-07-22).   Score information: A4, 2 pages, 52 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: SATB version.
  • CPDL #19655:  Network.png
Editor: Christoph Lahme (submitted 2009-06-18).   Score information: A4, 3 pages, 44 kB   Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0 Germany
Edition notes: Edition by ear.

General Information

Title: O who will o'er the downs so free
Composer: Robert Lucas Pearsall

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicings: SATB, ATTB or TTBB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1875 in Novello's Part-Song Book (2nd series), Vol. 10, no. 286

Description: "The words of this song are written in allusion to an event supposed to have taken place in the neighbourhood of Winterborne, in Gloucestershire. One Hickenstirn (or Hickery Stirn, as he is called by the common people), who lies buried in the church there, is said to have been a knight who lived by pillage. He fell in love with a neighbour's daughter, won her affections, was refused by her parents; but, with the assistance of his friends, carried her off from her father's house. Such events were not uncommon in the middle ages."

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

O who will o'er the downs so free
O who will with me ride,
O who will up and follow me
To win a blooming bride?
Her father he has lock'd the door,
Her mother keeps the key,
But neither door nor bolt shall part
My own true love from me.

I saw her bow'r at twilight grey,
'Twas guarded safe and sure,
I saw her bow'r at break of day,
'Twas guarded then no more!
The varlets they were all asleep
And none was near to see
The greeting fair that passed there
Between my love and me.

I promis'd her to come at night
With comrades brave and true,
A gallant band with sword in hand
To break her prison through.
I promis'd her to come at night
She's waiting now for me,
And ere the dawn of morning light
I'll set my true love free.