The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17087   Message #561181
Posted By: toadfrog
28-Sep-01 - 11:30 PM
Thread Name: Penguin: The Cruel Mother (Child #20)
Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE CRUEL MOTHER
THE CRUEL MOTHER (5), Child #20
(Down by the Greenwood Sidey-O)(Traditional)

One day I was sitting in my father's hall
I saw three babes a-playing ball.
All day long and I love you all,
Down by the greenwood side-y oh!

"Oh little babes if you were mine,
I'd dress you up in scarlet fine."

"Oh, dear mother, when we were thine,
You neither put on our coarse nor fine."

"Oh, little babes, if you could tell,
How long on earth have I to dwell?"

"Seven long years on earth to dwell,
The balance of your time you'll spend in hell."

T:The Cruel Mother 4
S:Bronson, Variant 48
K:D Mix
D/2|D D/2B,/2 D/2D/2 D/2D/2|DGB Z/2 B/2|
B d A B|E> D D Z|D D/2B,/2 D D/2D/2|
D G B Z/2 B/2|B d A B|E> D D Z/2||

% ABC2Win Version 2.1 9/28/2001

This version was sung (almost exactly as given here) by Peggy Seeger in American Folks Songs for Children, Rounder Records 8001 (1977?). The record was based on Ruth Crawford Seeger's 1940 book of the same name, and the liner notes are sketchy. They do mention that the full text of the song had seemed inappropriate when the book was written, so that apparently only a verse was included.

Text and melody here are from Bronson, who gives this as his 48th variant. His notes say:
"Davis, 1929, p. 560(B); text, p.134. Sung by Mrs. Virgie Mayhew Keesee, Pittsylvania County, Va., May 26, 1915; learned from her uncle, who learned it in Tennessee, Collected by Juliet Fauntleroy.


THE CRUEL MOTHER (6) Child #20

(Fine Flowers in the Valley)(Traditional)

She sat down below a thorn,
Fine flowers in the valley
And there she has her sweet babe born
And the green leaves they grow rarely

Smile nae sae sweet, my bonny babe
An ye smile sae sweet, ye'll smile me dead.

She's ta'en out he little penknife,
And twinned the sweet babe o' ts life.

She's howkit a grave by the light o' the moon,
And there she's buried the sweet babes in.

As she was going to the church
She saw a sweet babe in the porch.

O sweet babe and thou were mine,
I wad cleed the in the silk so fine.

O mother dear, when I was thine,
Ye did na prove to me sae kind.

I have heard Ms. Jean Redpath sing this variant, I think on Prairie Home Companion. It is Bronson's variant #1, his notes state that the earliest written version of the tune dates from 1791, and other things that are probably of interest only to people that own Bronson anyway. The tune is identical to Cruel Mother # 2 in the DT. Malcom also gives a link to this one, but links fade. And the MIDI there is so obnoxious I'd as soon not listen to it.

As I recall it, the tune is also that of the Easter hymn or anthem, "The World Itself Keeps Easter Day." But there does not seem to be a MIDI of that online.