My Dances - Lambs on Green Hill

Longways Duple Minor Proper
A11-21st-couple cast-down below 2nd-couple
2nd-couple remains stationary
3-41st-couple figure-8 halfway up through the 2nd-couple
5-61st-couple lead-up through 2nd-couple
7-81st-couple fall-back into partner's place (finishing improper)
A21-22nd-couple cast-up above 1st-couple
1st-couple remains stationary
3-42nd-couple figure-8 halfway down through the 1st-couple
5-62nd-couple lead-down through 1st-couple
7-82nd-couple fall-back into partner's place (finishing improper)
B11-2all balance-the-ring
3-4all circle-left halfway
5-8partner right-hand balance and turn-lady-under changing places
B21-4all circle-right once
5-8partner right-hand balance and turn-lady-under changing places


I was listening to traditional Celtic music and became intrigued by a tune snippet “Ned on the Hill” being played in a Scottish style. The song's matching lyrics were rather abbreviated and upon research I found that the tune was only 16 bars:

The lambs on the green hills, they sport and they play
And many strawberries grow round the salt sea
How sad is my heart when my own love's away
How many's the ship sails the ocean

The bride and the bride's party, to church they did go
The bride she rode foremost, she bears the best show
And I followed after with my heart filled with woe
For to see my love wed to another
The next time I saw her, was in the church stand
Gold ring on her finger, her love by hand
Says I my wee lassie, I will be your man
Although you are wed to another

The last time I saw her, was on the way home
I rode on before her not knowing where to roam
Says I my wee lassie, I will be the one
Although you are wed to another

Stop, stop says the groomsman, til I speak a word
Would you chance your life on the point of my sword
For courting so slowly, you have lost this fair maid
So be gone for you ne'er will enjoy her

So dig now my grave, both long wide and deep
And sprinkle it over with flowers so sweet
And lay me down in it for to take my last sleep
For that's the sure way to forget her.
Other folk variations did not have the Scottish Snaps but nevertheless restricted themselves to similar 16 bars.

I figured that the Scots being rather frugal had decided 16 bars was more than enough to accompany such a cheery love story.  However I felt the tune was somewhat unfinished (not to mention leaving the dancers in an awkward state of dance euphoria), so I wrote a complimentary additional 16 bars (found in the B-section of the music).

Armed with a romantic-mellow-dramatic tune (in a more complete state); I choreographed the dance in March 2011.

The dance I believe has a wonderful passion graph finding the couples tacitly courting each other through the A-section during the cast-figure8-halfway-lead-up portion, punctuating their joy during the balance-the-ring with a reward of an intimate turn-lady-under.  Then reality slowly sinks in as the set circles-right finding any regrets forgotten in the final partner turn.   If the musicians are so inclined (and perhaps as passionate as the dancers), I might suggest modulating up a key for a couple of times through the piece before returning to the original key in the closing pass.

Notes for Callers

The opening figure of the couple-cast, half-figure-8, lead, and step-back into lines (8 bars) moves rather quickly.  Callers need to instruct dancers that this opening movement flows quicker than they may expect and the the cast is NOT A PUSH-OFF.  Each of those movements involve roughly 2 bars (6 beats) each allowing the stepping-back to coincide with the end of the musical phrase of the A section.

Although the suggested tempo marking of 1/4=120 appears a bit brisk, the final marking for the tempo should be set by how comfortable the dancers feel about the lift in the balance-the-ring into the circle-left/right for the flow of the dance.

This dance uses a right-hand-turn-lady-under which is:
  • partners facing each other, join right hands, balance towards each other (3 beats)
  • balance back (3 beats)
  • men turn your partner under joined right hands while changing places with partner (3 beats)
  • balance back into partner place (3 beats)
Have the dancers join hands with the balance-the-ring.

Originally, I thought of using the symmetry of a left-hand-turn-lady-under, but reflecting upon the intent keeping it a right-hand-turn-lady-under fulfills a couple of points:
  • Easier for the dancers to remember
  • The movement and musical phrase resolution jolts the participants (with the story-line) back into reality.
Please notice that I have provided the music is two keys for the musicians, the purpose is to start in E when the caller drops off for the dancers to enjoy the music, have the band pop it into G 1-2 times and finish the dance back in the original key (ah- the reality sets back in).  When I call this dance, I usually let it run no more than 9 times with the band popping into G when I give them the 3-more-times signal.


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