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The History of the Melody © 2004 David Kidd
12th edition 2012

Captain Kidd
1645 - 1701

"Oh, my name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed..."

You know that old song Captain Kidd: sung here lustily Jolly Rogers
by The Jolly Rogers using a tune like this, in E dorian:

However it seems everyone sing it to a slightly different tune. Many historians say the tune should be more like Ye Jacobites by Name, sung here by my old friend Owen Hand. owen hand
Owen Hand

Or should it more resemble Sam Hall sung by "Winkle" Winkler?

Musicologist Bruce Olson commented "Exactly what tune was known as Captain Kidd in the 18th century has been a little fuzzy, as the tune was never known to have been printed under that title, and even circumstantial evidence is rather meager."
So which is the correct tune for this song? All we can be sure of is that it came from sometime earlier than Kidd's execution in 1701.

The Lyrics of Captain Kidd have many different
versions; click here


Click here for
many other songs
that sound like
Captain Kidd


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melismata 1. REMEMBER O THOU MAN
The earliest printed score that resembles Captain Kidd in both tune and meter is A Christmas Carol of 1611 in Thomas Ravencroft's Melismata. However it's in three-four time:



Melismata, Mvsical Phansies, Fitting the Covrt, Citie and Covntrey Hvmovrs, To 3, 4, and 5 Voyces
by Thomas Ravencroft.
London 1611

*Ane Compendious Book of Godly and Spirituall Sangsi Collectit out of Sundry parts of the Scripture with sundry other Ballats changed out of prophaine sangis for avoiding of sin and harlatry, with augmentation of sundrye gude and godly Ballates, etc., etc. Printed by Andro Hart, Edinburgh, 1567. 

There is however an earlier printed lyric in the same meter: “All My Lufe, Leif Me Not, Leif Me Not” in a Scottish book of sacred songs of 1567 by the Wedderburn brothers' Gude and Godlie Ballates* But no score was printed therein.
Gilchrist and White agree that song to be a sacred parody of a secular folk song “My lufe is lyand sick, send him joy, send him joy” in the Complaynt of Scotland of 1549, of which song we have only the first line. Gilchrist conjectured that the music for these songs could be the tune later printed for Germany Thomas. For although that song's lyrics refer to a war of 1630-48 the tune could be older.
42GerB Germany Thomas
White writes “there is no Scottish song between the parody of 1567 and the printed song Germanie Thomas in 1794. But it seems certain that some such song, widely known, had been in existence throughout the period …

“Also notes on the Jacobite songs in Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, and on “Germanie” in some Scottish Collections, speak of similar songs to the same tune being common in the Scottish Lowlands. We may say then that there existed a Scottish love lyric continuously from the middle of the sixteenth century; and like many folk songs it was brought up to date from time to time. The earliest form, that in the Complaynt of Scotland, may have referred to Scots who had gone abroad to serve under Kings of France (see Forbes-Leith, Muster Roll of Scots Guard) then to Scots who fought in the Thirty Years War in Germany, and later in the French Wars of the eighteenth century.

Another possibile celtic root is Mentra Gwen, neu Cwynfau y Wraig Weddw (Venture Gwen, or the Plaint of the Widow) from Wales. There it has various tunes so perhaps Mentra Gwen is not a particular song but the rhyming structure and meter. The tunes are similar to Captain Kidd, but unfortunately we can't prove what Mentra Gwen was descended from, or how old it is, for it was not mentioned in print until 1717 by Richard Moms.
43GwPw Mentra Gwen

48GwFt Mentra Gwen for fiddle

White, E.A. Journal of English Folk Dance and Song. Vol IV (i) 1940 p23-30.

Gilchrist, A.G. Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. III no 3, 1938, pp 157-182.

For all these lyrics see 'Songs'






"In the song Captain Kidd students of folk song now recogize the pattern of a well defined old Welsh ballad "Mentra Gwen, neu Cwynfau y Wraig Weddw: Venture Gwen, or the Plaint of the Widow" (Bonner 1947).

The Declaration and Standard of the Levellers of England; delivered in a speech to his Excellency the Lord Gen. Fairfax, on Friday last at White-Hall, by Mr. Everard ... (1649)
The Diggers allied with the Levellers

E.A. White suggests "that the Scottish song or some song derived from it was picked up by English soldiers during the Civil Wars [1642-51] and so suggested the form, first of the Diggers' song
and then fifty years later of the ballads Jack Hall and Captain Kidd. This last was long remembered… I suggest that the “Diggers’ Song” is the known link—there may have been others—connecting the English songs with the Scottish prototype.”
However this is conjecture for unfortunately no music was ever printed for folk songs in the olden days hence no historical documents can be found to prove his proposal.

With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now, stand up now
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold.

In 1649 the site of the Diggers event was St. George's Hill Weybridge Surrey and in recent years the local authorities voted that the Diggers' Song should be sung to a version of Captain Kidd. 37DgFi

However here is a different tune for Diggers composed by Leon Rosselson

by Leon Rosselson1979

“London's Farewell to Parliament” of 1642 has opening bars with our structure
but then drifts off away from our tune. This tune reappeared in 1662 for "The Beggar laid him down to sleepe" and the satrical "Duke of Norfolk"
"I am the Duke of Norfolk with a Hey with a Hey,
I am the Duke of Norfolk with a Hoe....
I am the Duke of Norfolk with a Hey tronony nony floe.

At the beginning of the British civil war:
"Farwell to ye parlyament
with a Hey with a Hey,
far well to ye parliament with a Hoe,
your dear delight ye Cittye,
whose wants have made us witty
& a figg for ye close Comittee
with a Hey tronony nony Hoe.


Another group of songs more closely resemble Kidd cite "Sound a Charge" as their tune: 31SaCh

the first appearance of which in print was in 1654: "A Spiritual Song touching doing away of Sin," in the book titled A Small Mite


Sound a Charge



Loyal Subjects Joy

Touch and Go

Put in All




A Song


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The tune "Sound a Charge" is also cited for Put in All in 24 country Dances for the Year 1708 by John Young, and in his 1710 Dancing Master, or Directions for Country Dancing. The dance tune "Put in All" became better known by a later parody: A Song published in 1719 by Thomas D'Urfey's in Pills to Purge Melancholy: Wit and Mirth.
Bb major
Colonial Dancing Org analysis:
Incipit: //3-6-/6-7-//1/7-1//217-//13-
Stress Notes: 361721
Intervals: 4,2,2,-2,2,2,-2,-2,2,-6,

Unfortunately the family tree of Sound a Charge shows no historical documents connecting the last three tunes with Captain Kidd of 1701.

There are however real documents connecting the following songs with Captain Kidd

1700 Jack Hall



1701 Captain Kidd

The Moderators Dream

Ye Jacobites by Name

Through All the World Below


1801 Cambourne Hill

Wondrous Love
Sam Hall

In the days of metal type the printing of music scores was very rare. It needed special type that was dificult to set. Most of the examples that exist are of church music.

No score was printed for the tune Coming Down on the Captain Kidd broadsheets of 1701. In those times the vendor teaching you the tune was included in the broadsheet's price of tuppence. Until quite recently no one could identify the tune Coming Down because "Coming Down" was not in fact its title; nor were those its first words. The tune was the song sung for Jack's Hall's execution the year before, because the last line is "but never a word I said coming down". The song was a big hit in 1700.


The Moderators Dream
refers to the tune
Jack Hall as
Chimney Sweep.

Eighteenth Century authors wrote that the Captain Kidd melody was similar to the Admiral Benbow Air of 1702. Those lyrics go "Come all you seamen bold and draw near, and draw near."


The score was printed in 1783 in The Vocal Enchantress

It is in Dorian Mode, that is like harmonic minor but the Seventh is sharp even in falling which gives it haunting quality. In chords that's a 7th Sharp diminished.

A 1702 precedant is 09AbVb

Slightly different is Brave Benbow

There is also this other beautiful Admiral Bembo tune but it doesn't fit our lyric pattern as it is for that other song about Benbow: "We sailed to Virginia, and then to Fayal. We watered our shipping, and so we weighed all"

In 1746 the words for a Scottish song about the Jacobite Rebellion had printed on them "to be sung to the tune of Captain Kidd". In 1792 Robert Burns rewrote this as Ye Jacobites by Name and published it. Listen to it here sung by Owen Hand

owen hand


  Melody from the Scottish Musical Magazine No 371.

We are overjoyed that at last somebody printed a score, however this cannot be taken to be the true tune of Captain Kidd because it has a different purpose. It's mood is assertive.

Note the unmistakeable Scottish flourishes that elevate its mood in this stirring arrangement by Barry Taylor:

  Barry Tailor  

In Pirate Laureate Williard Bonner states of the 1800s in America that "One very well known notation goes as follows: Among the variations to be found in print...this one received official sanction in community and 'concert' singing and was in all probability heard by more thousands of people than any other".

The Lyrics of Captain Kidd have many different
versions; click here

You can order pdfs of sheet music of all of these songs, including chords and lyrics.
See our catalog.

Your selections will be Emailed to you as PDF files. Use our file numbers for many different tunes have the same title.


The normal ranges of voices are approximately one octave below and one above certain notes: Soprano b’, Mezzo g’, Contralto e’, Tenor a, Baritone f, and Bass d.

Most people prefer to sing around the middle of their range.

The concept of chordal harmony was not discovered until about 1600. Before that they called it polyphony, which means singing different tunes at the same time, like counterpoint. So David W. Music is correct in that sense, for they are different tunes, but I feel that as polyphony many were intended to be sung together to make concords. With a four part arrangement above I can prove my point in this way: play the soprano part 06KChoSprn
and then play the tenor part, but raised an octave
and you will hear a different tune even though you know it is the same song!
If you had asked your Grandmother to teach you a tune she would naturally sing the part she knew.
But which voice is the melody is not easy to decide for although most of the tunes nowadays seem to have soprano is the melody in 1667 Simpson* wrote "bass is the foundation of counterpoint". This may sound odd but in fact it is the basis of our term 'the root of the chord'. Simpson wrote "First set down your material notes then accommodate your descants to those notes".

In my experiment I did a survey of the keys of the collection reprwseted in this discourse and found they clustered around G and A which suggests that a baritone, tenor or mezzosoprano would be happiest singing this melody. For example with a tenor singing melody around A the contralto would sing a fifth above, around E.

*Christopher Simpson, A Compendium of Practical Music 1667, was still the best seller in Britain in 1700



  Because the Captain Kidd tune is catchy it became so well known that many hymns were written to it.
“The environment in which the religious folksongs developed, notably in America, was the New Light excitement which rose in New England in the 1740s. I have already… told how the singing New Light zealots snatched literally hundreds of good tunes from the devil and put them to the Lord’s use, and how ‘Captain Kidd’ was one of their luckiest snatchings.” (Jackson 242-3)

Jackson, George P. The 400 Year Odyssey of the Captain Kidd Family-Notably the Religious Branch,
Southern Folklore Quarterly 15, 1951 Gainsville, University of Florida Vol. XV. 1951: 239-248.
Jeremiah Ingalls’ Christian Harmony, Exeter New Hampshire 1805 “We know also that, for the first fifty years of such singing, few of the hymns and none of the tunes were printed; that the very first book of New Light songs with tunes appeared in 1805 … We may safely assume then that American New Lights had sung along Kidd lines perhaps decades before 1805.” (Jackson 244-5) The music for Through All the World Below first appeared in Ingalls under the title Honor to the Hills.

Remember Sinful youth, you must die, you must die 58SySf

on the organ
Richard Weaver's Tune Book 1851 Come ye that fear the Lord, unto me, unto me
Farewell, ye blooming youth
William Walker's Southern Harmony1853 What Wondrous Love is this, oh my soul,
that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?


Joseph Hillman’s The Revivalist, Albany, NY. cop 1868, No. 429

The voice of wisdom hear, Be in time, be in time.


G.P. Jackson writes “Among the songs listed above one will have noticed that some fail to fit the precise Kidd formula in text rhythm. In such songs the departure from the norm will be found corrected usually by the tune. If not, it must be charged to the general principle of variation-within-unity, a rule familiar to students of folksong.” (page 244)
On the other hand David W. Music points out that in William Walker's Southern Harmony, "Captain Kidd or through all the World Below" and "Wondrous Love or Captain Kidd" are not the same tune although often used interchangably.
Let's listen to the two together.
It sounds very interesting, close harmony in A minor. But not perfect because in bars 3 and 14 where the first plays a C the second plays a B. This is because "Through all the World Below" is in Natural Minor whereas "Wondrous Love" is in Dorian mode.


Through all the World Below

Wondrous Love

The hymn that starts "Through all the world below" under the title Captain Kidd was collected and published in 1810 by Jesse Mercer in his Cluster of Spiritual Songs. Mercer (1769-1841) was a Baptist Pastor in Georgia, and his very successful book went through 11 editions, the fifth containing 676 hymns. On page 498 our traditional tune is modified to fit the words, the extra line of lyrics being accommodated by repeating the last four bars like in most American versions. The tune is in A-minor, hexatonic with no 6th.
But nobody knew from where Jesse Mercer collected it until David W. Music found that "the text was first published in Hymns on Various Subjects (1792) an anonymously compiled collection ... where it was attributed to Elder Hibard." And that a version of the melody appeared in 1805 called Honor to the Hills in Jeremiah Ingalls' The Christian Harmony. "Early printings of the tune titled it Captain Kid but in Davisson [A Small Collection of Sacred Music] 1825 it is called Green Meddow." Music also discovered that "in its first printing [Johnson's Tennessee Harmony 1818] the tune is marked 'Original'; Davisson 1825 and Moore [Columbian Harmony] 1825 attributed it to 'Nicholson' and the remainder of the collections included it anonymously." Music, David W. A Selection of Shape-note Folk Hymns: From Southern United States Tune Books, 1816-61. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions. 2005

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  The Religious "Captain Kidd" score as shown above is a version published later, in 1835, as hymn number 50 in “The Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion.” The publisher William Walker, “Singin’ Billy” (1809-1875), was a Baptist song leader and had the score reset in the then novel shape note system to assist his choir in harmonizing in that distinctive southern sacred music style. Sung a-capella the three parts accentuate the dispersed modal harmony.
The main melody of which is



In 1940 Olin Downes and Elie Siegmeister published a collection of songs from the campfire songbooks of the old revivalist camps. A Treasury of American Song inevitably including a version of Captain Kidd. It is in G minor but, honest to the old songbooks, rather dull musically. Typical of American versions it repeates the last line, making five phrases out of four.


In 1952 The Fireside Book of Folk Songs containing exactly the same Kidd melody but arranged by Norman Lloyd in D minor and with a slight variation in the bass ornamentation.



But the Kidd tune emerged in a very contrasting locale: the rowdy British Music Hall. In 1849 G.W. Ross adapted the 1700 song Jack Hall by changing it to Sam Hall and adding lyrics like "I'll see you all in Hell and I hope you fizzles well ... It's up the rope I go ... I hate you one an' all, blast your eyes". Ross dressed the part and "The refrain was hurled with furious venom at the audience and out of such abject squalor emerged a performance of high pathos". Unfortunately the composer is unknown, and once again no-one kept a written score, so all we have is differing memories of it.

Below are my transcripts of two American folk versions of Sam Hall as midi files, with the first verse sung live in audio. And you can hear the whole songs sung live in the original audio files from the Max Hunter song collection.


Sam Hall by May Kennedy McCord in 1960
Max Hunter Collection


Sam Hall by Roy "Wrinkle" Winkler in 1969
Max Hunter Collection

A printed version of Ross's Sam Hall score was published in 1925 by Chapman and Hall. They declared that since there was no single reliable version of Sam Hall they had composed one and copyrighted it in their own name. The rascals however made it much too cheerful. See P. Davidson's Songs of the British Music Hall New York: Oak Embassy, 1971.


Just as a charicature can tell us more about the subject than a portrait, perhaps musical parodies of Captain Kidd can teach us some more about the tune?

Will Marion Cook

In 1901 Kidd inspired in Will Marion Cook a cheerful contrast. Hurrah for Captain Kidd was a big hit in three shows, the most famous being the first ever all-black Broadway production, In Dahomey, in which it was performed by Bert Williams and George Walker the famous Cake-Walk Kings. "As always, the job of the tune is to enhance the basic sentiment, comedic spirit, general attitude, or moralizing conclusion of a text" (Riis) so his intention being humorous Cook composed syncopated 6/8 verses and a 2/4 time chorus. He echoes the historic Captain Kidd song only by exagerating its excessive repetition: having eight words rhyming with Kidd in the chorus:


The Music and Scripts of In Dahomey, ed T.L.Riis ©1996 American Musicological Society <



The 1940s saw the beginning of the opinion that perhaps Kidd had never really been a pirate. No doubt arguments enlivened many a cocktail party. This attitude stimulated the witty Benéts to parody it in a song: "you'll read in all the newer history books that he was mild...They say he never pirated - I think perhaps he did", These words and "I think perhaps they're wrong" are marked to be sung "with cynicism".


Captain Kidd in Sing a Song of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Benét with music by Arnold Shaw
©1941 Musette Publishers, Steinway Hall, New York.


Arnold Shaw wrote some very jazzy music for it in the key of Eb. He echoes the folk song by starting every line as a repetition, but changes it by ending each in a surprise. His chord progression is something like this:
 V7     III  i          II  V7       III  bVII7    ii
 V7     III  i          II  V    i     ii  i7           ii
 V7     III  i   II   bVII  V7       III  bVII7    ii
 III iv  II  bVII  i7        V  V    I    II  ii  i7           ii

Shaw's modern response to the folk song, a jazzy parody, is most intelligent and educational.

Arnold Shaw
Founder of the Popular Music Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Ella Mae Morse in 1945


... He never got nowhere being a hep corsair,
But here's a clue to how he met his Waterloo:
One day he went and found the honey,
She took the boy for all his money,
Soon after that he flipped his lid,
And finished up the tale of Captain Kid.

You Tube

Wonderful, but this tune does not resemble our historical tune at all.

Captain Kid  
Ella Mae Morse
Solo artist with Capitol Records

The Lyrics of Captain Kidd have many different
versions; click here

I collected the tune below from my father


but it is unlike any other melody I have found so I conclude it's the bass part of a choral arrangement.

You can order pdfs of sheet music of all of these songs, including chords and lyrics.
See our catalog.

Your selections will be Emailed to you as PDF files. Use our file numbers for many different tunes have the same title.

Colcord's book Roll and Go was published in 1924 by Bobbs-Merill of Indianapolis. Republished in 1938 as Songs of American Sailormen by Norton of New York.

It uses the repetition of the last line characteristic of American versions.

In the nineteen-twenties Joanna Colcord noted down the tune as commonly sung by american sailors. It emphasizes a common feature of the song: slides at the beginnings of lines and stays at the ends. It is in natural minor i.e., G minor but with a consistently sharp seventh.







The sixties brought the great revival when singers tried to find the historically correct tunes.

However many folk singers follow Pete Seeger, who popularized the following attractive version that he learned in England from Steve Benbow. But I must say Steve Benbow was obviously influenced by his own second name for it is really the tune of Admiral Benbow "Come all ye sailors Bold".

Pete Seeger played in E on a long-necked 5-string banjo something like this 04KSgr

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger
illustration © David Kidd

Eddie Trinkett remembered how The Seeger Family played it in concert in Boston about 1960. Here Eddie sings it that way and plays guitar with Howie Mitchell singing harmony and playing dulcimer on Golden Ring: A Gathering of Friends for Making Music Folk Legacy CD-16

Folk Legacy



A wide range of performance styles persist: all the way through happy merrymakers who laugh about Kidds execution - to those who feel for him and lament his fate.
They range from:


1. Renaissance folk group who perform live in pirate costumes: The Bilge Pumps, The Rakish Rogues, Captn Blacks Sea Dogges and The Jolly Rogers, who play this example using the standard Amercian version of the tune.

2. Progressive musicians who compose variations, like the Cowboy Junkies. Sadly they only issued their moody version of Captain Kidd on promo singles: RCA records 1990 PT 49288; and 1991 2612-2-RDJ. Here's one of their original verses about his loss of his friends.
3. Traditional performers of historic music who sing it as a true lament. An admirable example of this is Carl Peterson, a native of Greenock, who sings it acapella on his 2003 album I Love Scottish and Irish Sea Songs, on his own label

4. Waterson:Carthy take a novel approach by taking major instrumental breaks rather than a bridge. On Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand. 2004, Topic Records TSCD542

5. Merry acoustic groups, like Great Big Sea on The Hard and the Easy, 2005 Warner Music, make the dirge seem quite cheerful !


6. The celtic folk-rock group Tempest have Kidd as track 1 on their album The Double-Cross, 2006 Tempest Music. However they rewrote the traditional lyrics to make the case for Kidd’s defense; in it Kidd states he was double-crossed by greedy Lords.


Listening to a long version of the Captain Kidd song one finds that the constant repetition of “and I sailed” is hypnotic like a dirge, but after a while it becomes annoying, and one starts to yearn for something different. For this function popular music composers write a bridge; that is a passage in a different key whose function is to reflect, contrast and refresh before returning to the original verse theme. A 32-bar song structure is AABA where B is the bridge or 'middle eight'. The conventional bridge is a perfect fourth higher, but in modern music I have found it can start out on almost anything, for example I, iii, V or vi.

Exhausted by listening to this tune a thousand times, in August 2006 I took the tune in A and wrote a bridge for it: “Are there a thousand pounds of treasure buried in the sand on some tropic island shore? Hidden lost and waiting for some lucky hand - or could there be ten-thousand dollars more?”

Also in 2006 the folk-rock group Tempest must have felt the same, for they recorded their Captain Kidd tune in B minor with a bridge that goes like this: IV, iii, I, ii. And I must admit theirs is better than mine.

My bridge highlights the greedy financial motivation behind the case for Kidd’s prosecution. Tempest, by contrast rewrote the lyrics as a case for Kidd’s defense and their bridge sums up their case. I chose to make my bridge cheerful and whimsical as a contrast to the verses for relief from the dirge, in the genre of the Robert Kidd folk story that focuses on the hidden treasure. Tempest however sum up the message of their verses, which is what a bridge is supposed to do. Their bridge is also repeated to make it more memorable, emphasizing the ‘double-crossed’ message. They even used ‘The Double Cross’ as their album title.


it/~dafx/DAFx- final-papers.html>

pages 131-134

<> <>

On this page you've heard about 50 different tunes for Captain Kidd, and on my page Songs Like Captain Kidd you can hear another 35 that resemble them. To compare this many tunes is unmanagable. Two Computer Scientists at the University of Limerick have developed a way to arrange a music database for comparison. Donncha O'Maidin and Mikael Fernström write that melodic distance can be defined by a geometric algorithm:


And to navigate a music database they developed a "sonic browser" that displays all the tunes scattered on a computer screen. "Each object can also have color, size and location mapped to properties of the melodies, e.g. melodic distance." The browsing method is to increase the aura around the cursor, the white oval, to play as many tunes as one can compare by ear at a time. "All objects within the aura will play concurrently, spatialized through stereo panning." "It is also important to note that 'cocktail party' effect allows us to switch our attention at will between melodies."

If you really want to hear all 85 tunes that sound like Captain Kidd at the same time click here !



"As the algorithmic comparison of melodies is computationally quite demanding, it might be interesting to separate applications like this into a client-server model with a light-weight client implemented for example in Java. The server would have to create the auditory spatialization in real-time for each client, a goal that appears to be achievable with todays computer power and networking. This would open up the possibility to use applications like this via the Internet"says Fernström and O'Maidin.
To read their paper in full go to <>; select pages131-134 and download the pdf.
My version of their idea would be to have Captain Kidd at the center and all others mapped around, leaning towards Admiral Benbow in one corner, Sam Hall in another, Mentra Gwen in a third corner and Germanie Thomas in the fourth.

1. We have to standardise so we can compare. We need to convert all tunes to the same pitch so we can play them together. But what root note shall we chose? Based on all the 85 similar tunes collected, G is the most popular (see graph below left); whereas for tunes actually called "CaptainKidd" (below right) A takes the lead. So based on historical statistics we choose A.




2. Next we must separate the major and minor songs for they are too discordant so can’t be compared directly. I have also come to find the major key to be inappropriate for the mood of this dirge. Listen to 99KCMj and you can see that despite the discords they are still too cheerful. 99KCMj

3. The tunes in minor keys I find much better suited to the lyrics. We must separate these into two different modes for they clash on the G natural note versus G sharp issue. So half the versions are in dorian mode, that is natural minor, and the others are in harmonic minor.
Listen to Dorian 99KCMnDor
and to Harmonic 99KCMnHar

There are still some discords but from the concords you can get the hang of what the real tune should be.

4. I found some tunes to be identical, for example that from Joanna Colcord's Roll and Go when put in the same key is exactly the same tune as that from William Bonners' Pirate Laureate except for the long slurs. Hence the length of the extension of the note at the end of some passages is a matter of performance. In all versions there is always an extension of the note in bar 7, but whether it is written as a pause or as an extra bar is variable. British transcribers prefer the pause whereas Americans prefer the extra bar.

5. I found that American versions like to repeat the fourth line making an 18 bar verse whereas the British versions sing the fourth line just once followed by a one-bar “as I sailed” making them 15 bars long.



So what is your opinion on all this? E-mail me at

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Your selections will be Emailed to you as PDF files, openable by any computer for use on your own printer. See our catalog. Please use our file numbers because many different tunes have the same title.












American Musicological Society <>
Bruce Olson <>
Colonial Dancing Org <>
Contemplator, Lesley Nelson-Burns <>
COST G6 Conference <>
Digital Tradition Mirror, Rick Heit <>
Electric Scotland < history/other/inglis_james.htm>
Folk Legacy<>
Max Hunter Song Collection <>
The Jolly Rogers <>
The Mudcat Café <>

Captain Kidd by Eddie Trinkett and Howie Mitchell on Golden Ring: A Gathering of Friends for Making Music CD-16 1996
Ye Jacobites by Name by Owen Hand on I loved a Lass Transatlantic 1966 re-released with Something New by Pier Records 1999 as PIERCD 502.
Captain Kidd by Waterson: Carthy on Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand. 2004, Topic Records TSCD542
Captain Kidd by Great Big Sea on The Hard and the Easy. 2005, Warner Music Canada.
Captain Kidd by Tempest on The Double Cross 2006, Magna Carta Records.
Sam Hall by May Kennedy McCord 1960, and by Roy "Wrinkle" Winkler, 1969, Max Hunter song collection

Benet, R & S.V. and Arnold Shaw. Sing a Song of Americans. New York: Musette 1941.
Bonner, Williard Hallam. Pirate Laureate. New Brunswick, Rutgers 1947.
Bronson, Bertrand. Samuel Hall's Family Tree (California Folklore Quarterly I, 1, 1942),
reprinted in The Ballad As Song (University of California, 1969).
Colcord, Joanna C. Roll and Go: Indianapolis: Bobbs-Meril,1924.
Colcord, Joanna C. Songs of American Sailormen: New York: Norton, 1938.
Cook, Will Marion. Ed. T.L. Riis. The Music and Scripts of In Dahomey. Madison: A-R Editions, 1996.
ISBN 0 89579 342 3 © American Musicological Society
Cray, Ed. The Erotic Muse:American Bawdy Songs. Illinois: University, 1992. ISBN 02 52067 894.
Davidson, P. Songs of the British Music Hall. New York: Oak Embassy, 1971.
Fernström and O'Maidin. The Best of Two Worlds: Retrieving and Browsing. Ireland, University of Limerick, 2000.
Gilchrist, Anne Geddes Sacred Parodies of Secular Folk Songs, in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. III no 3, 1938, pp 157-182.
Gilchrist, Anne Geddes Mentra Gwen, Journal of Welsh Folksong Society 1930, III, 45. See also Journal of Welsh Folksong Society II (1914-25), 122.
Jackson, George P. The 400 Year Odyssey of the Captain Kidd Family-Notably the Religious Branch, Southern Folklore Quarterly 15,
1951 Gainsville, University of Florida Vol. XV. 1951: 239-248.
Music, David W. A Selection of Shape-note Folk Hymns: From Southern United States Tune Books, 1816-61. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions. 2005
Simpson, Christopher,1667. A Compendium of Practical Music. Oxford: Blackwell ,1970
Wedderburn Brothers Gude and Godlie Ballates, 1567




I give a tip of my hat for the thorough research of this tune and song. What a treat to find so much information about one song from one source. Thank-you for these efforts.
Sammy Rich

I was looking for the musical history of “What Wondrous Love is This” and stumbled across your website. What a treasure! Thank you for all your time researching and the thorough way in which you presented the material.
Nathan L. Good, Associate Pastor of Worship and Youth, Swamp Mennonite Church

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