Early in his career Vaughan Williams developed an intense interest in folk music and in 1903 began collecting British folk songs. He was very much the English counterpart to Bartók and Kodály in this endeavor. In the end, he amassed over 800 folk songs, and down through the years arranged many for a variety of vocal combinations. "Loch Lomond" is an arrangement of a popular Scottish air for unaccompanied tenor and baritone voices, and baritone soloist.
The original folk song is familiar even to many Americans and Europeans. In the Williams arrangement it opens with the baritone soloist singing, "By you bonny banks and you bonny braes/Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond." The chorus joins in shortly and the results are quite lovely, the melody serene and thoroughly memorable, the vocal writing simple but skilled. When the chorus sings "O you'll take the high road and I'll take the low road/And I'll be in Scotland afore ye," the music's folkish character emerges with a charming sentimental sense that few can resist. The title of the song refers to the Scottish waterway, the largest inland body of water in all of Britain. For those interested in folk music, this attractive arrangement will have obvious appeal, and many others will also find it charming.