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Lyr Add: Mayer's Song / Mayers' Song / Mayers Song

*#1 PEASANT* 05 May 08 - 08:43 PM
Rumncoke 05 May 08 - 09:02 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 05 May 08 - 09:54 PM
JeffB 06 May 08 - 07:46 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MAYER'S SONG
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 05 May 08 - 08:43 PM

The Mayer's Song.

Remember us poor Mayers all,
And thus do we begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.

We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now, returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.

A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands,
It is but a sprout, but it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hands.

The hedges and trees they are so green
As green as any leek,
Our heavenly Father He watered them
With his heavenly dew so sweet.

The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.

The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower,
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in an hour.

The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day,
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May.

-Sharpe's London Magazine, 1848


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mayers Song
From: Rumncoke
Date: 05 May 08 - 09:02 PM

I learned it as

We've been a rambling all this night
And now 'tis almost day
And as we're returning back again
We've brought you a bough of May
A bough of May we have brought you

The rest I think is as printed, but I think that this second line makes more sense...

I can't remember where I heard it though - the little grey cells are not what they were.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mayers Song
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 05 May 08 - 09:54 PM

The Mayer's Song.
Remember us poor Mayers all,
And thus do we begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now returned back again
We have brought you a branch of May.
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands,
It is but a sprout,
But it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hands.
The hedges and trees they are so green
As green as any leek,
Our heavenly Father He watered them
With his heavenly dew so sweet.
The heavenly gates are open wile,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.
The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower,
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in an hour.
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day,
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May.


William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. London: Chappell & Co., 1859.
Version from: Hone, Day Book (i. 569), "as sung at Hitchin, in Hertfordshire,"
    "Remember us poor Mayers all,
        And thus we do begin,
    To lead our lives in righteousness,
        Or else we die in sin.
    We have been rambling all the night,
        And almost all the day,
    And now, returned back again,
        We have brought you a branch of May."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mayers Song
From: JeffB
Date: 06 May 08 - 07:46 PM

I know this as the May Day Carol. My version has dropped several verses and has just three :-

I've been a-wandering all of the night
and the best part of the day,
and when I come back home again
I will bring you a branch of may.

In my pocket I have a purse
tied up with a silver string.
All that it needs is a little silver
to line it well within.

My song is done, I must be gone,
I can no longer stay.
God ble3ss youall both greatand small
and bring you a joyful May.

The first verse given above (Remember us poor Mayers) and the "I/we 've been a-wandering" varse are also the first two of the Furry Day Carol, while the "Life of a man" and "The moon shines bright" verses have been borrowed from the Bellman's Song. In the version I have of the Bellman's Song, verses 1 and 6 are :-

The moon shines bright and the stars give a light
a little before it was day.
Our Lord our God he called on us
and bid us awake and pray.

The life of a man is but a span
and cut down in its flower :
we are here today and tomorrow are gone -
the creatures of an hour.

The Bellman's Song is a Passion Carol, so would have been sung around the same time as the May Day and Furry Day carols. Of course, there are different tunes for each.

The custom of letting children sing for pennies from door to door, while holding sprigs of may (whitethorn, not blackthorn as I understand, as the black was unlucky) was once universal throughout southern England and perhaps further. Twenty years ago, an old lady wrote to a local magazine to say she remembered doing it as a child in north-east Somerset.


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