This much-needed book provides valuable insights into themes and genres in popular song in the period c. 1600-1900. In particular it is a study of popular ballads as they appeared on printed sheets and as they were recorded by folk song collectors. Vic Gammon displays his interest in the way song articulates aspects of popular mentality and he relates the discourse of the songs to social history. Gammon discusses the themes and narratives that run through genres of song material and how these are repeated and reworked through time. He argues that in spite of important social and economic changes, the period 1600-1850 had a significant cultural consistency and characteristic forms of popular musical and cultural expression. These only changed radically under the impact of industrialization and urbanization in the nineteenth century. The book will appeal to those interested in folk song, historical popular music (including church music), ballad literature, popular literature, popular culture, social history, anthropology and sociology.