This is a rather mournful American folk song that became popular in Australia. It tells of a dying woman and a casket of old love letters. The song was written in 1870 by two songwriters from Boston, Louis Goullaud and Charles A. White. A very early recording, under the title Little Rosebud Casket was made in 1924 by Ernest Thompson, a blind farmer and musician from North Carolina. It was released by Columbia records and, despite its rather sad theme, became a popular parlour song.
Around 1987 the song appeared as a sweet highlight on the Grammy-winning Trio album by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Since then, it has been widely recorded by bluegrass and folk artists in America and elsewhere.
This arrangement of The Little Rosewood Casket is part of a larger collection of choral arrangements of 20 Australian folk song titles. The works were commissioned in 2022 by the Queensland Kodály Choir as a legacy project of Australian Choral Music and are collectively available in a two-part anthology titled On a Distant Shore.
The Queensland Kodály Choir has generously determined that these anthologies and all of their associated resources should be made freely available to anyone who would like to make use of them. To facilitate this, whilst each of the arrangements is copyright, the full set of project resources has been licensed under Creative Commons International Licence, meaning that they can be freely shared, copied and/or redistributed.
Conductors/choirs wishing to access the Anthology – Parts 1 & 2 – and/or the companion rehearsal tracks, can do so by following the link to the Cuskelly College of Music website. The complete individual titles (including cover title page, vocal score, piano accompaniment, extracted instrument parts, performance notes and glossary of terms) are available in the Anthology Catalogue on this website.
Perusal and download copies of the choral arrangement of The Little Rosewood Casket are available below.