This is a nostalgia song that I fell in love with at church camp after seventh grade. You will note that this is an age that is hard to pack with much nostalgia, as "the friends of my childhood" are in point of strict fact, my friends of this afternoon. Yet I caught the spirit of it, as CS Lewis caught the Sehnsucht of "a biscuit tin filled with moss" even as a boy.
It acquired a nostalgia as I went along. The girls at camp sang a descant beginning on the second verse of the song, and I don't think I had heard that before. I was ensorceled, grasping the idea that had eluded me in childen's choir that singing in harmony could be done by untrained singers not reading from a page. Life changed.
None of my male friends nor the girls I dated in highschool knew the song, but in college it seemed they all did. I felt I had landed in the right place. The girl I married was particularly fond of it and we would sing it together in the car. In harmony, of course.
We sang it again in late 1979, nights and days in a row when my first son went into the hospital and hovered on the edge of death for almost a week; we were bequeathing him the only culture we had. Because of that association, we sang it seldom thereafter. Our oldest son vaguely recalled it (not from when he was two weeks old), the second one did not recognise it. This seemed odd to me, because I have hummed it often all these years. But I see where we might not have fully embraced a song which had brushed death for us.
Nostalgia is now our chosen land, and the Welsh are very good at that.