This song is a setting by Peter Bellamy (who else) of a poem by Rudyard Kipling (who else). The reason why the diction is so archaic is that it’s a fake Chaucer poem (actual title “Gertrude’s Prayer”), which was printed alongside a story in which it plays a prominent part. The plot of the story (Dayspring Mishandled) is too complex to summarise here; suffice to say that the forbidding moral of the poem (That which is marred at birth, time shall not mend) seems to apply to one of the main characters, but ends up applying to several of them – including the most sympathetic. Perhaps not one to read last thing at night.
I worked out the parts from Peter Bellamy’s recording, on which his voice was accompanied by the voices of Anthea Bellamy and Chris Birch. I sang the lead and Chris Birch’s low harmony; this marks the first appearance of vocal harmony in 52fs. Anthea Bellamy’s part is pitched an octave above Peter’s; this was beyond me, so I played it on recorder (recorded in the bathroom for the harmonics).