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Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song

DigiTrad:
CORNISH MAY CAROL
DRAWING NEARER TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
MAY DAY CAROL
MAY DAY CAROL (2)
MAY MORNING CAROL
MAY MORNING DEW
QUEEN OF THE MAY


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Jack Blandiver 03 Jan 09 - 04:39 PM
peregrina 03 Jan 09 - 04:56 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 03 Jan 09 - 05:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM
Ross Campbell 03 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 03 Jan 09 - 06:46 PM
Ross Campbell 03 Jan 09 - 07:54 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 03 Jan 09 - 08:45 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 PM
Jack Blandiver 04 Jan 09 - 02:55 PM
Nerd 04 Jan 09 - 07:43 PM
Jack Blandiver 05 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Jan 09 - 05:29 AM
Ross Campbell 05 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM
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Subject: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:39 PM

A traditional song of ceremony collected circa 1930 in the village of St Michael's-on-Wyre, Lancashire; as sung by Bernard Wrigley, and others. Can't track it down at all - any info (including the words & tune!) welcome.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: peregrina
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:56 PM

Is this the one also sung by Fribo?


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 05:25 PM

See rich-joy's posts in this thread: Help: Buffalo Gals - r-j post 1 for info on the source in Roy Palmer and Help: Buffalo Gals - r-j post 2 for the words.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM

Posted back in 2002, in a thread otherwise devoted to 'Buffalo Gals':

Bell Tune (notes)
Bell Tune (text)


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM

Harry Boardman's webpage on FolkNorthWest
has a complete discography. Beltane Song is listed on "A Lancashire Mon" which should be somewhere in the stacks,

Google books has what appears to be the entire Topic catalogue amongst other stuff. Page 179 of The British Folk Revival, 1944-2002 by Michael Brocken shows the track-list for "A Lancashire Mon" (also on the above site).

Can't trace any Bernard Wrigley connection yet (still looking), His "God's Own County" CD (2005) has "Cockerham Devil" listed - I can't remember hearing him do this one.

The Cockerham Devil

DigiTrad version (credits Pru and Roger Edwards)

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 06:46 PM

I've got A Lancashire Mon with The Beltane Song on it and unless someone's got the Roy Palmer book with the tune (according to rich-joy's notes a tune is given), I can probably transcribe it from there. (The Palmer source would be preferable!).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 07:54 PM

Found it! But can't reach the record-player right now - will bring the album round in the morning if you're about - give me a ring about 10.00?

Harry Boardman's notes (Manchester, 1973) reflect those in Malcolm Douglas's links above:-

"This fascinating version of a "witch" song was collected by a man by the name of Myers and was apparently sung in the Fylde district of lancashire around the early eighteen fifties.
Beltane was a pre-Christian event associated with May day, or the ancient festival heralding the summer. Druids lit bel-fires, between which cattle were driven to protect them from disease, or in preparation for sacrifice. The word Beltane is celtic and literally means the "blaze kindling".
The more mature will remember a pop song of some years ago, presumably based upon an American version of this song.
I am again indebted to Roy Palmer for this song."

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 08:45 PM

Here's a quick transcript of the Harry Boardman tune. As stated by rich-joy in the posts linked above, it is closely related to Buffalo Gals (and on the Harry Boardman recording the song is ended by playing Buffalo Gals).

As the sleeve notes (posted by Ross above) make clear, Harry got the song from Roy Palmer, so it is essentially the same as posted by rich-joy - a few minor textual differences in the singing (like starting some lines with Well. It also sounds like he's replaced 'hint with in in verse 5, but that might be my mishearing).

Mick



X:1
T:The Beltane Song
S:Harry Boardman: LP A Lancashire Mon
L:1/16
Q:1/4=72
M:2/4
K:D
A,2|D2DD D2FA|B2AA AA
w:I danced wi' a girl wi' a hole in her stock-in'
FF|A2GG GGEE|B2AA AA2
w:An' her heel kep' a-rock-in', An' her heel kep' a-rock-in'
A|D2DD (DE)FA|B2AA AA
w:I danced wi' a girl_ wi' a hole in her stock-in'
d2|A2FD E2FE|D4 D2||
w:A' night by the light o' the moon, O.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 PM

Harry Boardman was presumably also reponsible for altering the original 'Bell Tune' to 'Beltane'. Roy Palmer got the song from Folk-Lore 47 (1936) pp.395-396; further discussion appeared in 48 (1937) pp.418-419 and 49 (1938) pp.217-218. These I haven't seen, but I'd advise anyone tempted to speculate on the song and its origins to be cautious; it all looks distinctly fishy to me.

Number 1516 in the Roud Folk Song Index, classed (perhaps by accident; there is no sign of any relationship between the songs) with 'Shrove Tuesday Song'.

Note, incidentally, that the 'Cockerham Devil' text at 'traditionalmusic.co.uk' was copied without attribution from the DT file, to which writer credits were later added.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:55 PM

Thanks to you all.

Here's a picture I took in St Michaels just the other day...

2nd Jan 2009

...I'll be stopping by soon to rake through the ashes for signs of human sacrifice.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Nerd
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:43 PM

Yes, it's all very fishy. It was based on the testimony of one person, years after the fact, who only heard her father sing the song and tell of the song's contexts--she never witnessed it in any of those contexts. Moreover, the collector (somehow) knew that the tune he gave was not "the original," after it was pointed out to him that his tune was "Buffalo Gals."

In today's world, this would not have been published in any reputable folklore journal.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM

Here's the text & notes from Malcolm's links to rich-joy's posts of August 2002, from Roy Palmer (?)

BELL TUNE
from Stockenbrig, St Michael's-on-Wyre, Fylde, Lancashire …

I danced wi' a girl wi' a hole in her stockin'
An' her heel kep' a-rockin', An' her heel kep' a-rockin'
I danced wi' a girl wi' a hole in her stockin'
A' NIGHT BY THE LIGHT O' THE MOON, O.

We'd a mind to tak the wood, but she dang it were accursed
An' she dang it were awakken, An' she dang it were awakken
We'd a mind to tak the wood, but she dang it were accursed

We dangled on a stane an' it lifted an' it thwacken
An' it lifted an' it moaned, An it lifted an' it moaned
We dangled on a stane an' it lifted an' it thwacken

She shivered on my shooder an' she clung my necken closer
An' she clung my soul to freeten, An' she clung my soul to freeten
She shivered on my shooder an' she clung my necken closer

She ran me 'hint the clearin' an' we watched the folk a-dancin'
An' her mither was a-prancin', An' her mither was a-prancin'
She ran me 'hint the clearin' an' we watched the folk a-dancin'

Their heids were clad as beasties an' she cried her fayther nozzlin'
An' she speired her brither ruttin', An' she speired her brither ruttin'
Their heids were clad as beasties an' she cried her fayther nozzlin'

She had soul as white as Mary an' nae sinner yet had touched her
An' she clung 'til me to wed her, An' she clung 'til me to wed her
She had soul as white as Mary an' nae sinner yet had touched her

'Fore the light wi' dark had striven I had dang her for my wife
An' I took her soul for life, an' I took her soul for life
'Fore the light wi' dark had striven I had dang her for my wife
GOD HA' BENISON UPON THE MOON, O.

*

The meaning of the song seems to be that a girl is tempted to join in a witches' orgy, but is saved by the young man who agrees to marry her. It was sung at Stockenbrig, St Michael's-on-Wyre, in the Fylde, a remote part of Lancashire, between 1849 and 1853, both on May Days and at Lammas (1 August, 3 months later). It was first published in 1936, and caused some eyebrows to be raised by its exoticism.
The collector, M.W.Myers, added this information two years later, partly in response to the suggestion that his tune was surprisingly similar to that of "Buffalo Girls", an American song popular in the mid 19th century (which, incidentally, enjoyed a new vogue in the late 1940's.) : I "collected" it in this way. I have a friend with, fortunately, a particularly retentive memory. She had often heard her father sing this song, and was told by him how he and several others used to sing it at St Michael's-on-Wyre, in the Fylde. I have the names of several of them. I knew that the tune is said not to be the original one ... Some of the singers came from families that had come from Sutherlandshire, for horse breeding or to bring sheep and cattle to the fells. This may push the origin back into Scotland, but the song was sung at St Michael's. Old John Crampton, the singer that I knew well, was descended on his mother's side from the Raes. ... As regards date of singing, I gather that May-day and Lammas were regular times ..., but it was also sung when the young fellows got together at other times.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:29 AM

Not sure about Stockenbrig, but there is a Stocken Bridge House on the left of the A586 as one approaches St. Michael's from the west, maybe half a mile from the village itself. I'll pay more attention next time we're passing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: St.Michael's Beltane Song
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM

Here is a Map of the Parish of St Michael's-on Wyre and links to registers of burials etc It's part of a Parish Clerk's Register project. If you click on the map, it expands and you can track to wherever you want.

To the west of St Michaels you will find Great Eccleston, home of Jack Benson, local countryside columnist for the Blackpool Evening Gazette and author and purveyor of many local tales tall and true. Ron Baxter has converted at least one of his stories into song (The Price of Love), but Jack himself is no mean song-writer, and an eccentric and popular performer of the same. His epic "The Hundred-and Twenty-First Annual Eccleston Whit-Monday Cat-Punching Contest" is intransigently politically incorrect as you might expect, but fascinating in a rabbit-in-the-headlights sort of way, and funny in a holding-your-sides-and-begging-for-mercy way. I think you would appreciate his stuff.

Ross


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