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Lyr Req: Down in Yon Forest (from John Jacob Niles

DigiTrad:
BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR (1)
BONNY FARDAY
DOWN IN YON FORREST
I LEARNED ABOUT HORSES FROM HER
LASS FROM THE LOW COUNTRY
THE SMART SCHOOLBOY
VENEZUELA (PASS AWAY TIME IN)


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Lyr Req: I Wonder as I Wander (John Jacob Niles) (24)
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Lyr Req: I Wonder As I Wander (13)
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Lyr/Tune Add: The Deceived Girl -Child9 (1)
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Jennifer Johnson Garrity 03 May 99 - 11:36 AM
Barbara 03 May 99 - 11:43 AM
Barbara 03 May 99 - 11:45 AM
emily rain 03 May 99 - 12:47 PM
emily rain 03 May 99 - 07:56 PM
JB3 04 May 99 - 03:14 AM
Sandy Paton 04 May 99 - 04:51 AM
Sandy Paton 04 May 99 - 04:58 AM
Barbara 04 May 99 - 06:50 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 04 May 99 - 06:07 PM
Sandy Paton 05 May 99 - 03:10 AM
curronh@aol.com 12 Oct 99 - 10:22 AM
Bruce O. 12 Oct 99 - 11:16 AM
sophocleese 12 Oct 99 - 01:15 PM
Bruce O. 12 Oct 99 - 01:25 PM
Bruce O. 12 Oct 99 - 01:30 PM
sophocleese 12 Oct 99 - 01:31 PM
sophocleese 12 Oct 99 - 01:32 PM
Stewie 12 Oct 99 - 07:36 PM
roopoo 13 Oct 99 - 02:02 AM
Stewie 13 Oct 99 - 04:22 AM
roopoo 13 Oct 99 - 02:41 PM
dwo 13 Oct 99 - 03:57 PM
roopoo 14 Oct 99 - 01:44 AM
Jenny S 05 Jun 01 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,Judy Cook 05 Jun 01 - 07:49 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Jun 01 - 01:51 AM
Desert Dancer 06 Jun 01 - 12:35 PM
mousethief 06 Jun 01 - 01:46 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Jun 01 - 02:20 PM
mousethief 06 Jun 01 - 02:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Jun 01 - 02:53 PM
mousethief 07 Jun 01 - 12:51 PM
MMario 07 Jun 01 - 12:53 PM
mousethief 07 Jun 01 - 01:00 PM
MMario 07 Jun 01 - 01:11 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Jun 01 - 03:19 PM
mousethief 07 Jun 01 - 04:21 PM
mousethief 07 Jun 01 - 04:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Jun 01 - 10:03 PM
mousethief 08 Jun 01 - 12:12 PM
mousethief 08 Jun 01 - 12:13 PM
mousethief 08 Jun 01 - 12:27 PM
Peg 08 Jun 01 - 03:09 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 08 Jun 01 - 07:58 PM
Jenny S 09 Jun 01 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Hilary 09 Jun 01 - 08:26 AM
Joe Offer 03 Jun 02 - 02:36 PM
Joe Offer 03 Jun 02 - 03:27 PM
Joe Offer 03 Jun 02 - 05:51 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Jun 02 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,julia 03 Jun 02 - 09:35 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Jun 02 - 09:43 PM
rich-joy 03 Jun 02 - 10:08 PM
RoyH (Burl) 04 Jun 02 - 05:10 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Jan 08 - 01:51 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 13 - 09:10 PM
Lighter 03 Nov 13 - 12:22 PM
Susan of DT 03 Nov 13 - 01:30 PM
Lighter 03 Nov 13 - 02:43 PM
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Subject: down in yon forrest
From: Jennifer Johnson Garrity
Date: 03 May 99 - 11:36 AM

I'm looking for the words to an old Appalachin song collected by John Jacob Niles, around the turn of the century, called "Down in Yon Forrest". Can anybody help me?
106033.3527@compuserve.com

Click for lyrics in Digital Tradition:
Corpus Christi Carol
Down in Yon Forrest


Messages from multiple threads combined.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Barbara
Date: 03 May 99 - 11:43 AM

Do you mean this one, Jennifer? click here. It's English, but there could be American trad versions.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Barbara
Date: 03 May 99 - 11:45 AM

Ooops, looks like I missed the HTML closer. Joooooeeeee....
Still, seven minutes ain't too bad for us amateurs, hey Joe?


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: emily rain
Date: 03 May 99 - 12:47 PM

i know a version that has similar verses, but the refrain lines are:
sing may, queen may, sing mary
sing all good men for the newborn baby

more (and alternate) verses:
and on that bed lies a (something about a weak traveler)
his wounds are sick and see, he weeps

and by that hall is a blushing rose
since christ was born hit blooms and blows

and under that hall runs a gushing flood
from christ's own side hit's water and blood

o hail yon hall where none can sin
'cause hit's gold outside and silver within

also, a friend noticed that the sheet music had a copyright date sometime in the 1930's... who knows if that means anything.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN YON FOREST (from J J Niles)
From: emily rain
Date: 03 May 99 - 07:56 PM

OK! I got my hands on the sheet music, and here are the specifics: the version I know was indeed collected and arranged by John Jacob Niles, and the copyright (1935) must therefore refer to the arrangement. The tune is quite different from the Corpus Christi Carol... But you didn't ask for a tune, so I assume you know that. :)

Verses:
Down in yon forest be a hall.
'Tis coverlidded over with purple and pall.

And in that hall is a pallet bed.
'Tis stained with blood a scarlet red.

And by that bed there lies a stone
On which the Virgin did atone.

And under that hall is a gushing flood
From Christ's own side hit's water and blood.

And by that bed a shrub tree grows.
Since he was born, hit blooms and blows.

And on that bed a young squire sleeps.
His wounds are sick, and see, he weeps.

O hail yon hall where none can sin
'Cause hit's gold outside and silver within.

^^


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: JB3
Date: 04 May 99 - 03:14 AM

John Jacob Niles had a reputation for "collecting" songs and then later, claiming he wrote them. Anyone know the truth about this? He certainly wasn't very charitable about the singers he collected from, called them names, etc. from what I remember reading. The tunes we have thru him are beautiful, however, including the above and "I wonder as I wander"


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 04 May 99 - 04:51 AM

Niles was, to put it mildly, a very creative modifier of existing folk material, and an inveterate inventor of new. Most of our serious scholars wisely discount his claims to have "collected" much of his material. I'm accustomed to taking everything he wrote with a very large grain of salt. He did write some very beautiful songs, regardless of his many prevarications.

There is a version of the Corpus Christi Carol in the Oxford Book of Ballads entitled "The Falcon" after its final refrain line: "The falcon hath borne my make away." MacEdward Leach prints that text, along with another of the "Down in yon forest" variety in his Ballad Book. Either of these books ought to be easily available at your library or through inter-library loan. Bruce O. will probably come up with half a dozen more specific references, but these should get you started. Gustav Holst, by the way, wrote a lovely setting for the Falcon text.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 04 May 99 - 04:58 AM

I should have mentioned that "The Falcon" is in the Oxford Book of Ballads index of "first lines" as "Lully, Lulley," the first line of the chorus. That ought to make it easier to find.

I knew one irreverent scholar (forever nameless) who always referred to Niles as "John Jacob Jinglemonger."

Sandy, the forgetful one.


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Barbara
Date: 04 May 99 - 06:50 AM

There's also a version in the Oxford book of Carols similar to the one in the database. There's a typo at the end of the DT words. I'll check my book and post a correction, unless someone beats me to it.
Nice words, emily. I hadn't heard that version before.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 04 May 99 - 06:07 PM

Isn't there supposed to be a part "The bells of Paradise I hear them ring", and ending with "I love my Lord Jesus above everything."? That's how Joan Baez sings it, anyway, on her "Noel" album. I've always known it as a Christmas carol.


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 05 May 99 - 03:10 AM

I know the last verse of that "Down in Yon Forest" version as:

Over that bed the moon shines bright,
The bells of Paradise, I heard them ring,
Denoting our Savior was born this night,
And I love my Lord Jesus above any thing.


but I can't remember where I learned it. That, however, would certainly make it a nativity carol. The two texts I referred to earlier both end with verses like:

At that bed's head there standeth a stone,
Corpus Christi written thereon.


indicating that it is, rather, a crucifixion carol. I suspect that this is the older, but I have no positive evidence to quote. At times like this, we have to holler for Bruce O. to come and straighten us out. BRUCE! Where are you?

Sandy
Messages below are from a new thread.


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Subject: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: curronh@aol.com
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 10:22 AM

I am looking for the lyrics to "Down in yon forest" an appalachian Christmas song if you have them please email them to curronh@aol.com Thanks so much for any help you can give me.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN YON FOREST (from A. L. Lloyd)
From: Bruce O.
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 11:16 AM

[As sung by A. L. Lloyd. Interlaced refrain given for 1st verse only. Compare with "The Three Ravens".]

Down in yon forest there stands a hall
The bells of paradise, I heard them ring;
It's covered all over with purple so tall,
An I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

And in that hall there stands a lad
It's covered all over with scarlet so red.

And by that bedside there lies a stone,
The sweet Virgin Mary a-kneeling thereon.

An on that bed there lies a knight,
Whose wounds they do bleed by day and by night.

And under that bed there runs a flood,
The one half runs water, the other runs blood.

At the bed's foot there lies a hound,
A-licking the blood as it daily runs down.

At the the bed's head there grows a thorn,
Which ever has blossomed since Jesus was born.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: sophocleese
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 01:15 PM

Its a lovely carol, thanks for reminding me of it, but I thought it was trad. English.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: Bruce O.
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 01:25 PM

It was first (and maybe only) found as a traditional song, and reported in Notes and Queries in 1862.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: Bruce O.
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 01:30 PM

I should have added English, of course.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: sophocleese
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 01:31 PM

Thanks I was just going to ask. I didn't want t


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: sophocleese
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 01:32 PM

Please ignore that last sentence fragment. My delete button didn't


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: Stewie
Date: 12 Oct 99 - 07:36 PM

Look in DT and you will find versions under the title that many are more familiar with: 'Corpus Christi Carol'. Version 2 in DT notes that the earliest text dates back to 1500. The carol is also sometimes called 'All Bells in Paradise'.

Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: roopoo
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 02:02 AM

It is traditional English, and a "general" carol, as it also has allusions to the Passion. The earliest known version of the words (and I am sitting with the Oxford Book of Carols on my knee) apparently goes back to c.1500 and has references to a stone with Corpus Christi written on it, so it is also Eucharistic. The refrain is different too. If you want the carol for Christmas, the last verse of the Castleton version (starred for ommission at other times of the year) is:

Over that bed the moon shines bright Denoting our Saviour was born this night:

I have loved this carol for many years.

mouldy


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 04:22 AM

Mouldy, me too - it's hairs on the back of the neck stuff.


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: roopoo
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 02:41 PM

Apparently the version most commonly sung, "The Castleton Carol", was originally collected by Vaughan Williams. It'll soon be time to get singing it again! mouldy


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: dwo
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 03:57 PM

A L Lloyd in "Folk Song in England" says the text we have from the sixteenth Century was written down in a notebook kept by a grocer's apprentice. The notebook fell down behind a cupboard and was discovered in 186? when the house was being remodelled. Is that cool or what? We got favorite carols, shopping lists, girlfriend's addresses, and various notes on how to be a grocer -- from four hundred years ago. (Even weirder -- the apprentice ended up becoming Lord Mayor of London)


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Subject: RE: Need lyrics to Down in yon forest
From: roopoo
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 01:44 AM

I bet you're referring to Dick Whittington! I know the pantomime season draws ever closer, but the guy was real! Mind you, I'm not so sure about the 5 foot moggy that was good at walking on its hind legs... (and by "moggy" I am referring to cat, not mouse, as it means in some places).

mouldy


Original thread resumes below.


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Jenny S
Date: 05 Jun 01 - 05:06 PM

It is the festival of Corpus Christi today, and I find myself wondering (again) what the last line of the refrain means...

"The falcon hath borne my make away."

Any ideas?

Jenny


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: GUEST,Judy Cook
Date: 05 Jun 01 - 07:49 PM

I've always loved the tune of the one in Oxford Book of Carols. Imagine my surprise when I "de-electrified" Steel-Eye Span's singing of "Allison Gross" and found the tune very similar.

cheers, Judy Cook


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HERN (from John Fleagle)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 01:51 AM

In the notes to the 1996 CD by John Fleagle, World's Bliss, Medieval Songs of Love & Death (Archetype Records 60103) he does a beautiful version entitled "The Hern." (The album is a sort of early/traditional crossover thing. Really neat.) He says adapted it from the Middle English Richard Hill's Commonplace Book (c. 1500). Presumably he updated the language a little (though he didn't for other songs on the CD). And it looks like he added a couple verses. Fleagle uses a Breton melody called "Ar falc'hon."
Fleagle says, "'The Hern' is a carol [a dancing song] from Richard Hill's Commonplace Book (c. 1500) which survives in its sung form as 'Down in yon forest.'"
(If you're looking in Leach's book, it's "Over Yonder's a Park" or "Corpus Christi.") The Oxford Book of Carols calls it "Down in yon forest," and in the notes has the same Richard Hill MS text as Leach, which is abbreviated compared to Fleagle's.
In Fleagle's version, the story opens with 3 verses (rather than one) of the hern (heron) flying around before coming upon the hall, and the second refrain line is "The falcon hath borne my mate away" which is a modernization of the Middle English original "The faucon hath born my make away." (The heron's mate has been taken by a falcon -- which I suppose could even have belonged to the bleeding knight...) Here's his text:

The hern flew east, the hern flew west,
Lully lullay, lully lullay,
She bare her o'er the fair forest
The falcon hath born my mate away

She bare her o'er the meadows gree,
All to espy what might be seen.

Oh, then she saw an orchard faire,
Where grow'th the apple and the pear.

And in that orchard stands a hall
Was clad all o'er with purple and pall.

And in that hall there stands a bower
was covered o'er with periwink flower.

And in that bower there stands a bed,
With silken sheets of gold so red.

And in that bed there lieth a knight,
Whose wounds do bleed both day and night.

Under that bed there runs a flood,
One half runs water, the other runs blood.

By the bed side there stands a stone,
A leal maiden was set thereon.

With silver needle and silken thread,
She stems the woulds where they do bleed.

~ Becky in Tucson

Judy - my mother finally found the CD's I left with her last summer to send to me -- including yours! I'm looking forward to getting my hands on them again.


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 12:35 PM

Well, I got the line breaks right on the song, at least. The Corpus Christi (2) lyrics in the DT are the Richard Hill MS lyrics, and translations from the Middle English are included there.

~ Becky


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN YON FOREST (from Bruce Cockburn)
From: mousethief
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 01:46 PM

A version of this is on the Bruce Cockburn Christmas album/CD; I give the lyrics he sings below, prefaced with his comments in the liner notes:

If there were a contest for the title of spookiest Christmas carol, this ought to win hands down. Collected earlier in this century [i.e. the XX] by John Jacob Niles, it hails from North Carolina. I believe it to be of great age, though, both because of the melodic style and because of the lyrics, which resonate with the Grail myth, and with the ancient custom of every few years draining the blood out of one's king onto the soil to ensure its continuing fertility.---Bruce Cockburn

DOWN IN YON FOREST

Down in yon forest be a hall
Sing May, Queen May, sing Mary*
'Tis coverletted over with purple and pall
Sing all good men for the newborn Baby*

Oh in that hall is a pallet bed
Tis stained with blood like cardinal red

And at that pallet is a stone
On which the Virgin did atone

Under that hall is a gushing flood
From Christ's own side; 'tis water and blood

Beside that bed a shrub-tree grows
Since he was born it blooms and blows

Oh on that bed a young squire sleeps
His wounds are sick and sith he weeps

Oh hail yon hall where none can sin
'Cause it's gold outside and silver within

*repeat refrains for each verse

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 02:20 PM

Yes, that's the one given by Emily Rain earlier in this thread, which is now in the DT:  DOWN IN YON FORREST

I don't think that changing a few words to make it sound more archaic qualifies it as a genuine variant!

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 02:31 PM

"and sith he weeps" isn't changing "and see, he weeps" to make it sound more archaic -- it's a completely different thought or construction.

The one says "his wounds are sick and for that reason he weeps." ("Sith" meaning "since" in the logical sense); the other says "His wounds are sick! Don't believe me? Look! He weeps!"

Given the way folk music tends to degenerate over time, "sith" seems more likely to be the original. When the word "sith" passed out of common parlance, an easier word was substituted.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 02:53 PM

That may be so, but without evidence it's just speculation.  I'm wary of people's attempts to "restore" traditional songs to an (often imaginary) "purer" state, and it's usually best to take such things with a pinch of salt.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 12:51 PM

Who said anybody was restoring anything? What I see is two different versions of the same lyric. I see no evidence that one trumps the other; I was speculating as to which perhaps came first.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: MMario
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 12:53 PM

MT! you don't happen to have the melody for Niles version, do you?


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 01:00 PM

I don't know if the Niles version is what Cockburn sang. I could easily throw together some dots for the Cockburn version. Well maybe not easily; it is modal. But it's fairly short.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: MMario
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 01:11 PM

close enough. *grin* we'll just ackknowledge your source


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 03:19 PM

I said that someone was attempting to "restore" something, Alex; specifically, Bruce Cockburn, who stated pretty plainly in the notes you quoted that he had recorded the version collected by Niles.  Since the lyric you also quoted differed in some respects from those published by Niles, it seems not unreasonable to presume that the changes were made subsequently, probably by Cockburn.  I can see no reason why anyone would want to change "see" to the self-consciously archaic "sith" unless to make it accord more closely to their idea of how it ought to have been.  That's not "folk process", it's fakery.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 04:21 PM

You're assuming that's what Cockburn did. You ahve no proof, yet you're casting Cockburn in the role of a faker. That's not responsible, that's ridiculous.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 04:23 PM

Not to mention libellous.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 10:03 PM

It seemed hardly worth responding to a silly and inflammatory remark of that sort, but, since I have obviously touched a raw nerve here, I thought I'd better do a spot of research on Mr. Cockburn.  I hadn't realised that there was a religious issue -and possible attendant sensitivities- involved, or that a performer of whom I've never heard had so many loyal fans (not loyal enough, it appears, to keep the links on their websites about him up to date, though; at least half of those I trawled through are no longer current).  Quite a few of them carry transcriptions of songs from his many recordings, however, and, interestingly, every single one that I've seen quotes the line that Alex and I have had particular differences over not, as Alex gave it, "His wounds are sick and sith", but rather "His wounds are sick and sick".

Upon "sith", Alex seems to have constructed a fanciful theory which I disputed, and may have wrongly ascribed to the performer; if the correct reading is "sick", then I have no quarrel at all with Mr. Cockburn, but rather with Alex for getting it wrong and reacting intemperately when I challenged him.  Perhaps Mr. Cockburn just cocked the words up instead of changing them on purpose; if that is the case, then Alex's original remarks are irrelevant, and I needn't have bothered to make any comment beyond questioning the worth of re-posting a song to the Forum which is already available both here and in the DT.

If Alex is right and Mr. Cockburn's other fans are wrong, then my original comments stand.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Jun 01 - 12:12 PM

I was just transcribing from the CD; I may have heard it wrong.

What I was not doing was ascribing unwholesome motives to someone I don't even know.

The links are broken on my website because it was destroyed by GO.COM and I'm just now rebuilding it. A bit of compassion, or maybe even humility, might have kept you from making snide comments about this.

Yes, humility is a fine thing. I highly suggest it.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Jun 01 - 12:13 PM

PS there are no lyrics in the liner notes so I don't know where the other BC fans got their lyrics; I would guess they did the same thing I did, and heard a different word.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Jun 01 - 12:27 PM

If all this bizarre spat is about, is the fact that I re-posted something already in the DT (which I admit I didn't check first) then I apologize with scrapings and bowings. Seems a petty thing to get petty about, though.

Alex


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Peg
Date: 08 Jun 01 - 03:09 PM

It is a lovely tune; I have a version of this on a tape by Magpie Lane.

I wonder if anyone knows of any versions of this that are not quite so Christian in context? (using the same tune and maybe even the same title/opening line)?

Peg


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jun 01 - 07:58 PM

The version quoted by Desert Dancer lacks the maudlin Christian content of the later versions. A little rewrite a la Niles should give Peg a suitable set of words. Very little of what J.J. Niles said about his music can be believed; you almost can be certain that it was not collected in North Carolina and that his words (or Cockburn's) should not be treated as gospel, older or younger version or whatever. At best, it is Nile's unreliable reworking of a tune from the British Isles and Peg should feel free to make whatever revisions she wishes.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN YON FOREST (Oxford Book of Carols
From: Jenny S
Date: 09 Jun 01 - 08:16 AM

Peg, There's a much less "Christian" version in the notes to the Oxford Book of Carols version. Reckoned to be the earliest version, it is in the Hill MS (c 1500) and is as follows:

Lully, Lulley, Lully, Lulley!
The falcon hath borne my make away.

He bare him up, He bare him down,
He bare him to an orchard brown.

In that orchard there was a hall,
That was hanged with purple and pall.

And in that hall there was a bed,
It was hanged with gold so red.

And in that bed there lieth a knight,
His wounds bleeding day and night.

By that bed's side there kneeleth a may,
And she weepeth night and day.

And by that bed's side there standeth a stone,
Corpus Christi written thereon.

This is the abbreviated version that Desert Dancer referred to above, and both seem to me to be Christian adaptations of something far earlier.

Bearing in mind that this is what the Oxford Book of Carols refers to as a "general" carol, with relevance to both Christmas and to the Feast of Corpus Christi, I wonder if it was originally referring to the Winter and Summer Solstices. For, if we add on the extra days that were "lost" when the calendar was changed (as some still refer to January 6th as "Old Christmas Day"), then the Feast of "Corpus Christi" comes suspiciously close to the date of the Summer Solstice.

Desert Dancer's "hern" / heron further adds to the rich symbolism, since the heron is a symbol of the morning / creation / new beginnings, and the Falcon is a symbol of the Sun.

However, I still can't work out why the falcon should bear away a "make" / mate... and who's mate? The moon, perhaps, as mentioned in the Oxford Book versions:

Over that bed the moon shines bright,
Denoting our Saviour was born this night.

I agree with Dicho - use the verses that feel most appropriate for you.

Jenny

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 5-Jun-02.


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Subject: RE: down in yon forrest
From: GUEST,Hilary
Date: 09 Jun 01 - 08:26 AM

Show of Hands have a lovely recording of Down in Forest on their CD 'Folk Music'.

Hilary


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 02:36 PM

Yesterday was the Feast of Corpus Christi in the Roman Catholic church, which has moved a number of major weekday feasts to Sundays (probably to improve attendance). Looks like this song might be a good candidate for a DTStudy. Anybody want to start it?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Corpus Christi Carol
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 03:27 PM

The blood-licking hound is mentioned here (click) and here (click), but I think these are modern borrowings from tradition.
Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Corpus Christi Carol, The

DESCRIPTION: We find ourselves looking into a bower in a high hall. In the bower lies a sorely wounded knight surrounded by odd symbols -- dogs licking the blood, a stone on which "Corpus Christi" is written, etc.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1450 (Hill MS., Balliol Coll. Oxf. 354)
KEYWORDS: injury religious carol
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Leach, pp. 691-692, "Over Yonder's a Park (Corpus Christi)" (2 texts)
OBB 100, "The Falcon" (1 text)
OBC 61, "Down in Yon Forest" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hodgart, p. 38, "Corpus Christi" (1 text)
Stevick-100MEL 99, "(Lully, Lullay, Lully, Lullay)" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 42-43, "All Bells in Paradise (Corpus Chisti)" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 382, "Down In Yon Forest" (1 text)

Notes: "Corpus Christi" is Latin for "(the) body of Christ"
The feast of Corpus Christi (not necessarily connected with this ballad) occurs on Thursday of the week after Whitsuntide
Most of the symbols in this song seem to come from pagan (or, at best, late Christian) myths, but in John 19:34 we read that, when Jesus's side was pierced, "immediately [there came out] water and blood." (Compare also 1 John 5:6-8.) - RBW
File: L691

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE FALCON / CORPUS CHRISTI CAROL
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 05:51 PM

THE FALCON (CORPUS CHRISTI CAROL)

Lully, lulley, lully, lulley,
The falcon hath borne my make away.


He bare him up, he bare him down,
He bare him into an orchard brown.

In that orchard there was an halle
That was hang-ed with purple and pall.

And in that hall there was a bed,
It was hang-ed with gold sa red.

In that bed there lieth a knight,
His wound-es bleeding, day and night.

At that bed's foot there li'th a hound,
Licking the blood as it runs down.

By that bedside kneeleth a may,
And she weepeth both night and day.

And at that bed's head there standeth a stone,
"Corpus Christi: written thereon.

Lully, lulley, lully, lulley,
The falcon hath borne my make away.


Source: The Oxford Book of Ballads (edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch, 1920)

There's a nice MIDI arrangement here (click). I don't know if it's the traditional tune, but it sure sounds nice.


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 08:43 PM

No tune is known for Corpus Christi, though a number of modern settings have been made (the above is one of them). The earliest-known traditional tune associated with the song family was noted by Ralph Vaughan Williams from a Mr. J. Hall of Castleton (a few miles up the road from me) in 1908.


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 09:35 PM

Just to add my two cents worth, the Arthurian writer John Matthews sees references to the Fisher King and the Grail legend in this song.


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 09:43 PM

A lot of the early 20th century folksong enthusiasts did, but those theories aren't taken too seriously nowadays. I read Jessie L. Weston, Robert Graves and others on the subject and was very impressed until I found out that they had made most of it up all by themselves! Without meaning to sound unkind to him, I'd tend to describe John Matthews as a "Celic" fantasist rather than a serious scholar.


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: rich-joy
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 10:08 PM

very nice version of Corpus Christi Carol by Australian group MARA! (who, BTW, do a nice line in Eastern European music), on their Plant Life album "Images" from 1984 ... Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:10 AM

I have always thought of 'Down in yon forest' as a traditional carol from Derbyshire. In 1965 I collected a version from an old gentleman (an apt description, he was a most gracious fellow)in Castleton. He told me that he'd known it all his life, adding that 'everybody round here knows it'. He sang me a couple more hymn-like songs, plus 'Starry night for a ramble', and a song about a lover who carried an umbrella and left behind a baby with an umbrella birthmark. I had been doing collecting throughout the East Midlands and had a number of people one one tape. I loaned it out to someone who was 'interested in traditional music'. When it came back his kids had recorded pop music over it. By the time I was able to get out there again all my informants were dead. Whenever I hear the song performed or mentioned this memory resurfaces. I think it a wonderful song, with those stark images and incantatory refrains, quite awesome.


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Subject: RE: Down in Yon Forrest / Down in Yon Forest
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Jan 08 - 01:51 PM

In notes to "Down in the Forest," The Oxford Book of Carols," one of the notes says, "point to an interweaving of the legend of the Holy Grail."
The oldest version, c. 1500 MS, was posted by Jenny S (09 June 01).

A. L. Lloyd, in "Folk Song in England," gives the version collected from Mr Hall in Derbyshire by Vaugham Williams and Ivor Getty. It differs from the one sung by Lloyd and posted above by Bruce O, 12 Oct 99. Lloyd notes that scholars have tacked on to it the title 'Corpus Christi.'

DOWN IN YON FOREST
Mr Hall, with score

Down in yon forest there stands a hall,
The bells of paradise I heard them ring,*
It's covered all over with purple so tall,
And I love my Lord Jesus above any thing.*

* These two lines used as a refrain, as shown.

In that hall there stands a bed,
It's covered all over with scarlet so red.

At the bedside there lies a stone,
Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon.

Under that bed there runs a river,
The one half runs water, the other runs blood.

At the foot of the bed there grows a thorn,
Which ever blows blossom since He was born.

In his discussion of the various versions, Lloyd comments, "Ever since [Richard] Hill's notebook [the 1500 MS] ..., scholars have cudgelled their brains to reach a meaning of the carol. There has been talk of Mithraic ritual and Grail legend; the Couch of the Maimed King is knowingly mentioned, the diligent hound has been identified with Joseph of Arimathea at the sepulchre with the vessel, and the blossoming bush has brought to mind the 'miraculous' thorn at Glastonbury. But as usual with folk song, how much is direct symbolism and how much is simply the picturesque fantasy of common people would be hard to say."

It is fun to speculate, but nothing concrete will result.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Yon Forest (from John Jacob Niles
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 13 - 09:10 PM

Hi there - I am a storyteller currently working on a set of medieaval stories and ballads and I have been investigating Down in Yon Forest... - fascinating thread above - many thanks, but I am particularly interested in what anyone might know of its possible pre-Christian origins and links to Arthurian / Fisher King stories - if anyone can add further on this I would be most interested. Many thanks Sophie Snell (Derbyshire)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Yon Forest (from John Jacob Niles
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Nov 13 - 12:22 PM

As I see it, there's the Grail-Arthurian-Fisher King vortex (which has proved capable of aceepting anything modern Romamtics care to toss in), and then there's the carol.

Both involve a castle (or a "hall"), Jesus, and striking, perhaps intriguing Christian images - differing images at that.

Other than that, I think any "connection" (which often means that one was inspired by the other, or that they share a common origin) remains fanciful.

("What if," "maybe," and "I don't see why not" are popular Mudcat arguments, but they are not evidence.)

Now if the carol actually mentioned a Grail, or a Percival, or a Fisher King, or even an Arthur, the situation would be very different.
But it doesn't.

If there's any connection at all (and why should there be?), it could be that the person who made the carol was familiar with the internationally popular Grail story. But maybe not. It can't be shown from the texts, and if the Grail had ever been of importance to the song, it's hard to understand why it would have dropped out.

If the carol-maker was a visionary sort, he could have made the whole thing up from his own imagination, no further explanation required. Possibly the weirdness of the words helped keep the song from being more popular in tradition.

As is so often the case, there's no way to know any of this.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Yon Forest (from John Jacob Niles
From: Susan of DT
Date: 03 Nov 13 - 01:30 PM

I always thought it concerned the Fisher King:

And in that bed there lieth a knight,
His wounds bleeding day and night.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Yon Forest (from John Jacob Niles
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Nov 13 - 02:43 PM

Annie Gilchrist seems to have been the first writer to connect the carol with the Fisher King (Journal of the Folk-Song Society, 1910). A sample of her method:

She quotes the lines of ca 1400:

"He bare him up, he bare him down,
He bare him into an orchard brown."

And immediately interprets them to mean "Joseph of Arimathaea bears the Graal to the apple-orchard = Avalon." Got that? She overlooks the more obvious likelihood that the wounded knight is being carried home.

From the 1862 version she takes the lines "Over yonder's a park which is newly begun" and explains them as meaning "Church founded by Joseph of Aramathaea at Glastonbury." Really?

And the bleeding knight, whom she interprets as the Fisher King in one version becomes in the second, "The daily sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist." No, I'm not making it up.

It's a 14-page article proving that Gilchrist knew a lot about standard Grail literature. But even so, she admits there are "several points not explainable by reference to the Graal legend."

Leonard Wimberley, writing in 1928 (before the days of Lloyd-style jacket notes) quotes the song but makes no connection at all with the Fisher King or the Grail. He thinks it's about a "ghost-realm in the forest." No, I'm not making it up.

A knight whose wounds "bleed night and day" certainly *could* be the Fisher King. But since the nearby stone reads "Corpus Christi," isn't he more likely to be Jesus in a symbolic scene? Or a dying knight whose only hope is the "rock of the Church"? Or a surreal, personal dream-vision that the maker just had to turn into a religious carol? Etc.

And in a song about the Fisher King, shouldn't we expect a lance and a grail and a grail-seeker - or at least one of those things?

My guess is that the supposed connection has become popular because it's fun for folklore-oriented folkies to think about.


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