Monday, December 12, 2011

English Folk Music Part 2

Hello and welcome back to my series of posts on English Folk music.

Last time (13th November) we looked at the Ballad "The Birth of Robin Hood" and a song about cross-dressing women joining the army: "William Taylor".

This month, I've selected two songs which are completely different: one describes a courtship and the other is a drinking song for the army and navy - perfect for rallying the troops!


Song 1: The Sweet Nightingale.

This is a Cornish folk song (Cornwall is a county on the tip of the South West of England). The song tells of a courtship between two people where the girl in question needs a little encouragement to say yes. The girl has a sudden change of heart......I wonder why! (We can only wonder...)
The song is believed to date back to the 17th Century and was popular with Cornish Tin Miners. It was collected by a Victorian author called Sabine Baring-Gould (who also collected folk songs around Devon and Cornwall).

The song is a beautiful, gentle ballad. It may be familiar to some people in the UK as it was sung in some schools. This version is performed by Jackie Oates. Lyrics are below.


My sweetheart, come along!
Don't you hear the fond song,
The sweet notes of the nightingale flow?
Don't you hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below?
So be not afraid
To walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below,
Nor yet in those valleys below.

'Pretty Betsy, don't fail,
For I'll carry your pail,
Safe home to your cot as we go;
You shall hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below.'
But she was afraid
To walk in the shade,
To walk in those valleys below,
To walk in those valleys below.

'Pray let me alone,
I have hands of my own;
Along with you I will not go,
To hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below;
For I am afraid
To walk in the shade,
To walk in those valleys below,
To walk in those valleys below.'

'Pray sit yourself down
With me on the ground,
On this bank where sweet primroses grow;
You shall hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below;
So be not afraid
To walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below,
Nor yet in those valleys below.'

This couple agreed;
They were married with speed,
And soon to the church they did go.
She was no more afraid
For to walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below:
Nor to hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sang in those valleys below,
As she sang in those valleys below.


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Song 2: "Drink Old England Dry".


I discovered this folk song about a year ago in a book about Victorian music. In fact, this song dates back a little earlier - 1800 when it was written around the time Napoleon threatened to invade Britain. You'll be able to see what I mean when you read the lyrics. The song, tempo and theme to strike straight at the heart of the honest foot soldier or sailer (no airforce in those days) and describes how the French want to invade England in order to drink all the beer! Well what other reason would a soldier fight to stop the French from winning a war? Great propaganda and motivation to get the troops to fight for King and Country in those days.

The song has also been adjusted for different wars, including the Crimean and WW2. But usually the enemy mentioned is the French.

I've found a great version of this on YouTube, with some fabulous photo's to match, perfect for this website. Lyrics below again. The artists are Ian Giles (vocal) and John Spiers (Melodeon).



Now come me brave boys, as I've told ye before

Come drink, me brave boys, and we'll boldly call for more

For the French they've invited us and they say that they will try Will try

They say that they will come and drink old England dry Aye, dry, aye dry, me boys, aye, dry

They say they will come over and drink Old England dry.

Supposin' we should meet with the Fleet by the way

Ten thousand to one we will show them British play

With our swords and our cutlasses, we'll fight until we die We die

Before that they shall come and drink old England dry

Then up spoke Lord Wellington with fame and renowned.

He says he'll be true his country and crown

For the cannons they shall ratlle and the bullets they shall fly shall fly

Before that they shall come and drink old England dry.

Then it's then drink my brave boys as I've told you before

Come drink me brave boys till you cannot drink no more.

The French may boast, but their boasts are all my eye, my eye.

They say that they shall come and drink old england dry.

The French shall never come and drink old England dry.


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I hope you likes the songs and I'll be back next month with some more.

Jenna


Jenna Dawlish is the author of two Victorian Novels: Love Engineered and Sprig of Thyme.

www.jennadawlish.com


7 comments:

  1. I'm really enjoying the English folk music and your explanations of the origins of the lyrics.

    The threat to drink all the beer- say it isn't so! I can see that motivating many. (-;

    Thanks for the post!

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  2. Enjoyed that very much. My fav composer, Vaughn Williams, preserved much of English folk music that would have otherwise been lost forever.

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  3. What fun! Thank you Jenna! I'm picturing the French drinking England dry -- of beer, and being very unhappy about it. Perhaps this is what the British beer ad rises from: Take Courage.

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  4. History isn't alive without its music. Thanks for this audible post!

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  5. Thanks everyone, glad you like it. Angelyn, yes I have Vaughn Williams book. Really good. Am trying to get hold of the Cecil Sharpe one soon too....there is a blog post worth for lots of the folk song collectors.

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