Ash Grove

TITLE: The Ash Grove
AUTHOR: Welsh words credited to John Jones (19 January 1810 – October 1869), known by his bardic name of Talhaiarn / English words by Thomas Oliphant (1799–1873)
CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional
KEYWORDS: home, friend
EARLIEST DATE: 1862 collection Welsh Melodies

imagesThis song has roots dating back perhaps to the late 1600s. An early version of it was used in John Gay‘s The Beggar’s Opera (1728), where it was titled “Cease Your Funning.” The Ash Grove still exists in different versions today, owing to its several quite different sets of lyrics.

Of the two most common ones, the first speaks of The Ash Grove as a place where the story’s character retreats to recall friends from childhood and those who have passed on. The second version finds the character withdrawing there to mourn the death of his sweetheart.

The melody is fairly well known, since it serves as the theme to the popular Christian hymn Let All Things Now Living. It is a vigorous, joyous creation full of sunshine and energy. Its brightness and cheer would seem at odds with the spirit of both sets of text, especially that of the second. Yet the words in the first version [as recorded in this blog post-sgg] happily recall the past (“A host of kind faces is gazing upon me”) and the second speaks of the pastoral beauty of The Ash Grove and sweetly recalls the bright maiden. At any rate, this lovely song in either of these versions will have wide appeal to traditional song lovers. (from


  • Down Yonder Green Valley
  • Llwyn On



BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO:  Bill Spence on the hammered dulcimer

The Ash Grove

The ash grove, how graceful, how plainly ’tis speaking.
The harp thro’ it playing has language for me.
Whenever the light through its branches is breaking,
A host of kind faces is gazing on me.
The friends of my childhood again are before me;
Each step wakes a mem’ry as freely I roam;
With soft whispers laden, its leaves rustle o’er me,
The ash grove, the ash grove alone is my home.

My laughter is over, my step loses lightness,
Old countryside measures steal soft on my ears;
I only remember the past and its brightness,
The dear ones I mourn for again gather here.
From out of the shadows their loving looks greet me,
And wistfully searching the leafy green dome,
I find other faces fond bending to greet me,
The ash grove, the ash grove alone is my home.


  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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