Tune of the Day: The Stool of Repentance
This Scottish jig has not only survived but has remained popular for nearly three centuries. An early version of the melody can be found in the William Dixon manuscript dated 1734. Printed versions from the 18th century often give the tune as “Wright's Rant”. It was included in a number of 20th-century collections, and is still very popular, especially with contra-dancers.
The title comes from Scottish Church history and has to do with the survival of an old Roman Catholic tradition. In the late 18th century, transgressors were often given the penance in church of sitting for one or two weeks before the entire congregation on the “stool of repentance”. This was a special seat dedicated for the purpose and was set up before the pulpit. In some congregations the penitent had to stand on the stool after the service was over to receive the minister's rebuke.
Thanks to Ronald for suggesting this tune!