Handed Down

John Barleycorn with Lynne Morley

September 24, 2021 Jenny Shaw Season 1 Episode 2
Handed Down
John Barleycorn with Lynne Morley
Show Notes

In today’s episode, Lynne Morley and I chat about learning folk songs at school, modal music and the legend of Beowulf. Today’s song is perhaps the ultimate English folk song John Barleycorn and we have a good go at teasing out its origins. Is it an ancient pagan myth, a Christian hymn of death and resurrection or a good old drinking song? We may never know, and perhaps it’s a bit of all three. In any event, we have lots to say about this song we’ve both loved since childhood.


The podcast includes fragments of two songs by Columbines – Bright Morning Star, and Shenandoah. To find out more about Columbines or to book them, please email columbinesmusic@gmail.com 

Beowulf was written and performed by Lynne Morley.

John Barleycorn was performed by Lynne Morley.


Thank you to Stones Barn, Cumbria, and the wider Stones Barn community for starting me on this journey and encouraging me along the way. Stones Barn runs fantastic singing and traditional music courses and is always friendly and fun. Find out more at http://stonesbarn.co.uk 

Thank you as always to Steven Shaw for all the encouragement, and for giving this podcast its name.