Sunday morning music


Many of my readers doubtless enjoyed the made-for-TV movie series based on Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” historical novels.

John Tams‘ adaptation (including new lyrics) of an old English folk tune, “Over The Hills And Far Away“, became one of the theme songs of the series, and quite a popular hit besides.  He co-wrote the music for the series as well as acting the role of Daniel Hagman in many of its movies.

I thought readers might enjoy learning a bit more about that song.  It goes way back to pre-Renaissance times.  The oldest version I could find on YouTube performs it as it was known in the 1600’s.

John Gay adapted that folk tune for his early 18th century “The Beggar’s Opera“.

The song has long had a martial tradition, associated with soldiers leaving home to go and fight in foreign wars.  Here’s a modern instrumental rendition by the band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

And to conclude, here’s the man who re-popularized the tune for all of us.  John Tams sings his version of the song from the “Sharpe” movies before a live audience.

The collected music of the “Sharpe” series was released as a CD in 1996, and is still available (albeit expensive).  There are also several of John Tams’ albums and songs, which lovers of English folk music will enjoy.



  1. The book series of Sharpe is very good .A painless way to learn some British military history. However the series is not written in chronological order but rather they follow Sharpe as he rises in the ranks. Many listings of the series follow the chronicle order but don't read them in that order.

  2. Hey Peter;

    Enjoyed the Series and the books, also enjoyed the "Horatio Hornblower" series that came out with Loan Gruffudd, that came out in the late 90's and early 2000's. They did a bang up job with that one also.

  3. Liked the books and sorta liked the series, the budget limitations often left scenes in the series with far too few actors and the limits became painfully obvious.
    More modern versions of "Over the Hills" are ones done by Nightwish, a symphonic Metal Band, and a duet with 2 women who have fronted Nightwish at different times, Tarja Turinen and Floor Jansen.

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