The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #68568   Message #3224434
Posted By: Jim Dixon
16-Sep-11 - 06:58 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: May Carol: 'Remember lords and ladies...'
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: May Carol: 'Remember lords and ladies...'
This version has a few of the lines that were quoted above--

From Notes and Queries, Volume 31, page 373-4:

In the issue of this journal for July 29, 1854, (1st S. x. 91), I described the May-day customs as then existing in Huntingdonshire; and, in the Illustrated London News for May 2, 1857, I gave a sketch of "The May Queen and her Garland, at Glatton, Huntingdonshire." The May-day customs at Glatton and the adjacent village have been observed up to the present year; but, as they present no novelties, it is needless for me to encumber your space by a repetition of what I wrote eleven years ago. The description under the above reference in your first series would stand for an account of the May-day customs in 1865, at Glatton, Stilton, Denton, Caldecote, Folkesworth, and other Huntingdonshire villages. The immediate object of my note is to record in "N. & Q." the words of a May-day song, sung by "the Mayers" on May-day, 1865, in the village of Denton and Caldecote, when they went round with their "garland." The song, I may observe, was taught to the children by the mother of one of the singers; and the woman had learnt it as a child from her mother, who had been taught it, in turn, by her mother. Like the songs of the Christmas Mummers, it would appear to have been compiled by an uneducated person from odds and ends of verse. I give it precisely as it was sung: —

"Here comes us poor Mayers all,
And thus we do begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
For fear we should die in sin.

"To die in sin is a dreadful thing,
To die in sin for nought;
It would have been better for our poor souls
If we had never been born.

"Good morning, lords and ladies,
It is the first of May;
I hope you'll view the garland,
For it looks so very gay.

"The cuckoo sings in April,
The cuckoo sings in May,
The cuckoo sings in June,
In July she flies away.

"Now take a Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through;
And when the day of Judgment comes,
The Lord will think of you."

The sudden variations of this song between theology and ornithology, and its very slight relation to May-day, certainly invest its composition with a daring originality. It was sung to a tune that was "most melancholy," but not "most musical."
--Cuthbert Bede.