A few years ago Sting put out a Christmas album that included the old folk song ‘The Snow It melts the Soonest’. I have no idea where Sting learned the song, but I’d think there’s a good chance that, like many other people, he first heard it from Anne Briggs. Here, from her 1971 album ‘Anne Briggs’, is her beautiful a cappella version of ‘The Snow It Melts the Soonest’.
There’s a good discussion of the history of this song at Mudcat Café here, with links to some other interesting threads too; the song seems to have been first collected in Northumberland in 1821. Mainly Norfolk lists some of the recordings of this song, though not Sting’s (perhaps a bit of ‘real folk singer’ snobbishness going on there???).
As I mentioned on August 4th, Anne Briggs had a brief but highly influential career in British folk music in the 60s and 70s, but it has been many year since she has toured or recorded. Wikipedia gives the outline of her story here, and there is an interesting 2007 interview in the Guardian here.