Apologies for reviving a thread that's died a natural death but I just found it when seeking guidance on the practice of repeating the first verse of a song. As an inexperienced singer who occasionally sings at singarounds and pub sessions, I was a bit miffed when my rendering of The Sheep Stealer in a Dorset pub last year was greeted with dead silence instead of the usual polite applause. It turned out that they were all waiting for me to repeat the first verse, which local singers apparently do. The same thing happened at another session, also in Dorset, this weekend, so it's clearly a widespread custom in the area. Is it done simply because it's a short song that singers feel they need to extend, I wonder?
It seems to me that the song builds to a natural climax in a powerful cry of defiance, "I'll swear all I have is my own, my brave boys, I'll swear all I have is my own", and that repeating the first verse is anti-climatic and weakens the song's effect. So should I bow to local custom or should I persist in finishing the song without a repeat? If I do the latter, should I announce before starting that I will not be repeating the first verse? Or should I endeavour to indicate by the manner of my delivery that the song has ended, for example by increasing the volume, or by drawing out the final phrase with a vibrato? And will listeners accustomed to hearing a repeated first verse pick up those clues?