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Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song

DigiTrad:
NIGHT VISITING SONG


Related threads:
Night Visiting, Earliest revival version (25)
Night visiting song - modern? (11)
Chord Req: Night Visiting Song (11)
Night visiting songs England vs Scotland (17)
Lyr Req: I must away love (15)
LyrAdd: Night Visiting Song/Dat Du min Leevsten... (7)


AnCailínÉireannach 21 Feb 10 - 02:26 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Feb 10 - 02:36 PM
AnCailínÉireannach 21 Feb 10 - 02:48 PM
peregrina 21 Feb 10 - 02:54 PM
John MacKenzie 21 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 21 Feb 10 - 03:03 PM
Amos 21 Feb 10 - 05:39 PM
Tattie Bogle 21 Feb 10 - 07:03 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Feb 10 - 08:42 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 10 - 03:52 AM
Reinhard 22 Feb 10 - 05:22 AM
Susan of DT 22 Feb 10 - 05:34 AM
mg 24 May 10 - 02:20 AM
Mary Katherine 24 May 10 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,miszugene 07 Feb 11 - 08:45 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 11 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Chris 13 Oct 12 - 09:46 PM
Anne Neilson 14 Oct 12 - 04:58 AM
s&r 14 Oct 12 - 06:25 AM
Susan of DT 14 Oct 12 - 07:20 AM
threelegsoman 14 Oct 12 - 08:05 AM
MGM·Lion 14 Oct 12 - 09:48 AM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 12 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 Oct 12 - 04:14 PM
John MacKenzie 14 Oct 12 - 04:50 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 12 - 05:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 12 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 15 Oct 12 - 05:21 AM
TheSnail 15 Oct 12 - 07:04 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Oct 12 - 08:51 AM
TheSnail 15 Oct 12 - 10:13 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Oct 12 - 11:28 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Oct 12 - 11:30 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 12 - 09:47 AM
TheSnail 16 Oct 12 - 10:14 AM
Dave Hanson 16 Oct 12 - 10:35 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 12 - 06:13 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 12 - 04:42 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 12 - 04:51 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 12 - 04:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Oct 12 - 01:04 PM
TheSnail 17 Oct 12 - 01:41 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 12 - 02:49 PM
Richard Mellish 26 Oct 12 - 07:18 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Oct 12 - 02:36 PM
Richard Mellish 26 Oct 12 - 05:22 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Oct 12 - 06:20 PM
Paul Davenport 27 Oct 12 - 11:43 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Oct 12 - 03:51 PM
Paul Davenport 27 Oct 12 - 05:23 PM
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Subject: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: AnCailínÉireannach
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 02:26 PM

As it says in the title. The version I know is by Luke Kelly but I'm just wondering who wrote the song and if it is an Irish song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 02:36 PM

Luke Kelly got it from the singing of Ray and Archie Fisher.
It is traditional and not Irish.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: AnCailínÉireannach
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 02:48 PM

Thanks Jim

Marie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: peregrina
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 02:54 PM

The notes to Far over the Forth (Ray and Archie Fisher) say that the Night Visiting Song they sing on the record 'is a composite version from field-recordings made by Hamish Henderson.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM

It's related to The Grey Cock, or The Lover's Ghost.

The Grey Cock

    * (Trad - Child #248)

      I must be going, no longer staying
      The burning Thames I have to cross
      I will be guided without a stumble
      Into the arms I love the best

      And when he came to his true love's window
      He knelt down gently all on a stone
      And it's through the pane he has whispered slowly
      My darling dear, do you lie alone

      She's raised her head from her down-soft pillow
      And snowy were her milk-white breasts
      Saying, Who's that, who's that at my bedroom window
      Disturbing me from my long night's rest

      'Tis I your love, but don't discover
      I pray you rise and let me in
      For I am fatigued from my long night's journey
      Besides, I am wet unto my skin

      So this young girl rose and put on her clothing
      So swift she's let her true love in
      And it's there they kissed and embraced each other
      Through that long night they'd lie as one

      Then it's, Willie dear, o dearest Willie
      Where is your colour you'd some time ago
      O Mary dear, the clay has changed me
      I'm but the ghost of your Willie O

      Then it's, Cock, O cock, o handsome cockerel
      I pray you not crow before it is day
      And your wings I'll make of the very first beaten gold
      Your comb I will make of the silver grey

      But the cock he crew and he crew so fully
      He crew three hours before it was day
      And before't was day my love had to leave me
      Not by light of the moon nor light of the sun

      So my Willie dear, o dearest Willie
      When shall I see you again
      When the fishes fly, love, and the sea runs dry, love
      And the rocks they melt in the heat of the sun


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 03:03 PM

Just to add a little, there are versions collected from England/Scotland/Ireland and Wales, as well as version from the US and Canada. The earliest printed copies in books seem to be in Scottish collections from the late 18C and early 19C. If you put Night Visiting Song or I Must Away Love in the Filter box with Age set to All you'll find several discussions of the song, as well as versions in the DT.

I give a version from Luke Kelly (1982 Dubliners, courtesy of YouTube) below; it looks like a fairly standard version that was being sung widely in UK folk clubs in the 60s and 70s.

Mick



NIGHT VISITING SONG

I must away now, I can no longer tarry.
This morning's tempest I have to cross.
I must be guided without a stumble
Into the arms I love the most.

And when he came to his true love's dwelling
He knelt down gently upon a stone,
And through her window he's whispered lowly
"Is my true love within at home?".

Wake up, wake up, love, It is thine own true lover.
Wake up, wake up, love, and let me in;
For I am tired love and O so weary,
And more than near drenched to the skin

She's raised her up her down soft pillow
She's raisd her up and she's let him in,
And they were locked in each other's arms
Until that long night was past and gone.

And when the long night was past and over,
Ans when the small clouds began to grow,
He's taken her hand and they kissed and parted,
And he's saddled and mounted and away did go.

I must away now, I can no longer tarry.
This morning's tempest I have to cross
I must be guided without a stumble
Into the arms I love the most.

Source: The Dubliners: Luke Kelly vocal. Jan 1982


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Amos
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 05:39 PM

Also done by the loverly Threfalls, lyrics as above--"morning tempest", not "burning Thames".



A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 07:03 PM

Seems to be that the third verse is missing from MCP's version, similar to John Mackenzie's quotation of the Child version: as I learned it from a friend from Edinburgh in the Moroccan desert in the 1960s(!):

She's raised her up from off her down-white pillow.
She's lifted the blankets from off her breast,
And through the window, she's whispered softly
"Who's that disturbing me at my night's rest?"

And other very minor variations on vvs 4 and 5.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Feb 10 - 08:42 PM

"It's related to The Grey Cock, or The Lover's Ghost."
There is some dispute as to the facts of this. Hugh Shields wrote an article claiming that most versions, including the the Irish ones are more akin to a broadside entitled 'Willie O'. We recorded a beautiful version of it from Wexford Traveller Bill Cassidy called 'Biscayo' which we included on our selection of Traveller songs, From Puck To Appleby; as follows (with note):

15- Biscayo
(Roud 179, Child 248) Bill Cassidy

For he come creeping when I being sleeping,
Down to my old window, was down so low,
Saying, "Who is that at my old bedroom window
That is knocking so boldly and can't get in."
"For I am here, I'm your own true, lover,
I am here this three long hours and can't get in."

Saying, she raised up from her soft down pil¬low,
She've opened th'ould door lads, And she've let him in.
And with love and kisses
How they blessed each other,
Oh, when this long night being slipping in.

Saying, "I must go, I can stay no longer,
For I'm only th'ould ghost of your ould Willie O."
Saying, "What have took your old lovely blush¬es,
Or whatever ate your grand cheeks away?"

"For th'ould cold, cold sea took my lovely blushes,
And it's the worms ate my ould cheeks away."

"I must go, I can stay no longer,
Into a bay called Biscayo.
Where I'll be guided without hand or pilot,
For I'm but the ghost of your Willie O."

"I must cross o'er th'ould burning mountains,
That's in to that bay called Biscayo.
That's where I'll still be guarded*, ah,
Without hand or any pilot,
That's why I'm th'ould ghost
Of your ould Willie O."
[* guided]

We have always thought this song to be a version of The Grey Cock, (Child 248); however, ballad scholar Dr Hugh Shields has cast serious doubt on this assumption. In two detailed articles on the subject, he argues convincingly that it is a version of a nineteenth century Irish broadside entitled Willie O, the main source of which appears to be Sweet William's Ghost (Child 77).
We have also recorded it from another traveller, Katie Dooley; and from West Clare singer Nora Cleary.
Katie Dooley's text, similar to Nora Cleary's, has obviously evolved from the broadside, but Bill Cassidy's text and tune are reminiscent of the well-known version entitled The Grey Cock which was recorded in the early 1950s from Mrs Cecilia Costello, a Birmingham woman of Galway parentage. Whatever the truth of the matter, all three have in common the lover returning from the dead and the couple's time together being brought to a close with the crowing of the cock.
Both Mrs Costello's and Bill's versions have powerful images symbolising the difficulty of the dead returning; in Mrs Costello's, the lover has to cross 'the burning Thames', while in Bill's it is 'the burning mountains'. Unusually, Katie Dooley's version ends with the woman's death and leaves her 'sleeping beneath the billows'. This may be a mistaken substitution of she for he, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the song.
Bill was one of a number of Travellers who liberally scattered the word 'old/ould' into the texts of his songs!

Ref: Dead Lover's Return in Modern English Ballad Tradition, Dr Hugh Shields: Jahrbuch Fur Volkliedforschung, 1976;
Grey Cock: Dawn Song or Revenant, Hugh Shields, Bal¬lad Studies, Folklore Soc. Mistletoe Series, 1976.
Other CDs: Nora Cleary - Topic TSCD 653;
Cecilia Costello - Rounder CD 1776.

My own personal favourite is the Scots Bothy version, 'I'm A Rover' from which the supernatural element has totally disappeared and the dead lover becomes a fairm servant who has to return to his work next morning saying;

"Remember lass, I'm a plooman laddie,
I am a servant and I must obey"

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 03:52 AM

Posted too late last night and have included the whole bothy ballad version here with corrected penultimate verse.
Jim Carroll

I'M A ROVER.
This night-visit song is almost certainly related to The Grey Cock (The Lover's Ghost), a ballad in which a girl is visited by the ghost of her dead lover. As A. L. Lloyd has observed: "Generally the song is found either with the bedroom-window theme or the cockcrow theme but not the two together. In this version the bedroom-window theme is clearly established and what remains of the cock-crow theme has lost its supernatural significance.

I'm a rover and seldom sober,
I'm a rover of high degree,
It's when I'm drinking I'm always thinking
How to gain my love's company.

'There's ne'er a night I'm going to ramble
There's ne'er a night I'm going to roam,
There's ne'er a night I'm going to ramble
Into the arms of my own true love.

Though the night be as dark as dungeon,
Not a star to be be seen above,
I will be guided without a stumble
Into the arms of my own true love.

He stepped up to her bedroom window,
Kneeling gently upon a stone,
He whispered through her bedroom window,
"Darling dear, do you lie alone?"

She raised her head on her snow-white pillow,
Wi' her arms around her breast,
Says, "Who is that at my bedroom window
Disturbing me at my long night's rest?"

Says I, "True love, it's thy true lover,
Open the door and let me in,
For I am come on a long journey
More than near drenched to the skin."

She opened the door with the greatest pleasure,
She opened the door and let him in:
They both shook hands and embraced each other
Till the morning they lay as one.

The cocks were crawing, the birds were whistling,
The burns they ran free abune the brae,
But remember, lass, I'm a ploughman laddie
And the farmer I must obey.

Noo, my love, I must go and leave thee
To climb the hills they are far above,
But I will climb them, the greatest pleasure
Sin' I been i' the airms o' my love.

GLOSSARY,
Burns        small streams
abune        above
brae        hillside        
sin'        since
airms        arms


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 05:22 AM

This is Ray and Archie Fisher's version of The Night Visiting Song on their 1961 EP Far Over the Forth. As peregrina already stated above, the sleeve notes said: "This is a composite version from field-recordings made by Hamish Henderson. There is a whole series of night-visiting songs in Scotland, ranging from the bawdy, such as The Laird o' Windy Wa's to the tender. This is a particular good version of the latter."

I must away now, I can no longer tarry,
This morning's tempest I have to cross.
I must be guided without a stumble
Into the arms I love the most.

And when he came to his true love's dwelling
He knelt down gently upon a stone,
And through the window he's whispered lowly
"Is my true lover within at home?"

She's lifted her head from off her down-white pillow,
She's lifted the blankets from off her breast
And through the window she's whispered lowly,
"Who's that disturbing me at my night's rest?"

"Wake up, wake up, love, it is your own true lover,
Wake up, wake up, love, and let me in;
For I am wet, love, and o so weary,
For I am wet, love, into my skin."

She's raised her up with the greatest of pleasure,
She's raised her up to let him in,
And they were locked in each other's arms
Until the long night was past and gone.

And when the long night was past and over,
And when the small clouds began to grow,
He's ta'en her hand, aye, they've kissed and parted,
Then he's saddled and mounted and away did go.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Susan of DT
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 05:34 AM

There are many night visiting songs. The keyword nightvisit is on 21 songs in the DT


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: mg
Date: 24 May 10 - 02:20 AM

If you haven't seen him singing this on you-tube you are missing out. There is a version done shortly before he died and they say it is last performed song although he recorded one later. It is so beautiful. mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Mary Katherine
Date: 24 May 10 - 08:22 AM

In most versions I have heard sung, the second line is given as

This *roaring* tempest I have to cross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: GUEST,miszugene
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 08:45 AM

Luke Kelly said it is a Scottish song. Find one of his performances on YOUTUBE with his forword


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 01:31 PM

Another view of the situation
Jim Carroll

NIGHTSHIFT
by Peggy Seeger   

On Monday night he came to my door and he made such a din
Get up, get up, you darling girl, and let your lover in:
Well, I got up for to let him in and on me he did fall,
It was five o'clock in the morning before I got any sleep at all.

On Tuesday night he came to my door the joys of love to tend,
Get up, get up, you darling girl, before I go round the bend,
Well, I got up and I let him in and in my bed we lay
He had to hear the stroke of four before he'd go away.

On Wednesday night he came to my door, a little bit late in time,
I'd have been here sooner, you darling girl, but the hill's so hard to climb,
He wasn't long all in my arms before he let me be,
Then out of the house and down the road — but after the stroke of three,

On Thursday night he came to my door, so weary and so slow,
0 give me a drink, you darling girl, and then to work we'll go,
All night long he fought with it and I had to help him through,
And I heard him sigh as he rose to go, "It's only after two!"

On Friday night he came to my door, a-shaking in every limb,
Get up, get up, you darling girl, get up and carry me in!
Well, I got up and I carried him in and gently laid him down,
But hardly did his spirit rise to reach the stroke of one.

On Saturday night he came to my door, he came on his hands and knees,
O don't come out, you darling girl, stay in and let me be,
I got up for to let him in , but he fell down in a swoon
And though often I tried to raise him up he lay till Sunday noon.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: GUEST,Chris
Date: 13 Oct 12 - 09:46 PM

I was lead to believe that the author of this song was the same author of dirty old town, i cannot remember his name but i do remember he was from Manchester , England, this could be incorrect, just throwing it out there!:)
Ewen mc call maybe? Name was similar to that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 04:58 AM

Peggy's song 'Nightshift' was based on Sheila Douglas' original -- 'Too Much of a Good Thing', published in New City Songster no.6 -- but anglicised and, I think, to a tune of Peggy's own.
It's a good song whichever way you do it!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: s&r
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 06:25 AM

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger were married.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Susan of DT
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 07:20 AM

There are many night visiting songs and many songs with a ghost having to leave when the cock crows. The standard night visiting song, given in several postings above, has nothing in common with Child 248, the Grey Cock, other than a night visit and a cock crowing.

In the grey cock, the visitor is a ghost who kept a previously made appointment with the woman, and who, being a ghost, had to leave to leave at cockcrow. In The Night Visiting Song, the lover is alive and coming over to spend the night before going back to work in the morning.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: threelegsoman
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 08:05 AM

Here is my YouTube version of this song:

Night Visiting Song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 09:48 AM

I always feel somewhat amused by the opening of one version:

I'm a rover, seldom sober,
I'm a rover of high degree,
And when I'm drinking I'm always thinking...

A charmingly confused amalgam, I always feel, of several discrete braggart-folk-hero images!

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 12:46 PM

There has been a lot of rewriting in this family of songs both by broadside hacks and in oral tradition. The earliest extant member of the family is indeed 'Saw you my father' Child 248 but stanzas from this 4 stanza text do appear in other members of the family, notably Cecilia Costello's unique version. Costello's version as I have said elsewhere is most likely an amalgam of the 2 main Scottish members of the family and the Irish broadside 'Willy O'. To my mind at least it is the most beautiful member of the family though I sing versions of all of them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 04:14 PM

Steve. We talked about this briefly at Sheffield TSF. I agree that Cecila Costello's is a patchwork, but I am not sure it is unique. I have vague memories of hearing that the poet John Clare collected a similar version, which presumably will be in John Clare and The Folk Tradition.

Also Hugh Shields contributed an article called The Grey Cock: Dawn Song or Revenant Ballad? to Emily Lyle's collection, Ballad Studies. Again, my memory is vague but I think he argued that the supernatural element in Willie'O (Mrs Costello's Grey Cock also?) was introduced to satisfy C 19 morality. IE., it was a way to explain the presence of a mortal male in an unmarried woman's bedroom.

Curiously enough, at the 1978 Beleek singing weekend, a local traditional singer (one of Tom Munnelly's discoveries, I think)introduced a pretty standard non-supernatural version of The Night Visiting Song by saying that it was about a ghost. I asked Munnelly whether someone might have suggested that to the bloke and he said no. He'd met the guy just that afternoon in the pub and that was what he'd said when he'd sang it then.

Apologies if this repeats anything you already know, and apologies once again for the vagueness. But I am totally knackered and brain deadened and not yet recovered from the trip home after Gerry O'Hanlon's funeral.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 04:50 PM

Regarding cockerels in folk song, it seems to be a rich tradition. When I first went to Portugal, I was told the story of The Cock of Barcelos It immediately reminded me of King Herod and the Cockerel, which the Watersons recorded in the 70's, and I've never heard anybody else sing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 05:56 PM

As far as I know the cock crowing is simply heralding the day when all ghosts must return to the grave, so the cock has no real supernatursal significanced in itself, although the cock is spoken to as though it can understand humans as in some Child ballads with other birds. The cock crowing in King Herod of course is defintely supernatural as it's already been killed, plucked and cooked and I believe if my memory serves me correctly the idea is an apocryphal religious story.

Fred,
The item given in Clare's book is nothing like The Grey Cock in any traditional version. Deacon quite rightly states 'This is surely a song written by Clare'. If anything it could be a parody of 'William's Ghost' It is titled 'Shipwreckt Ghost'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 12 - 06:44 PM

Whoever first wrote it wouldn't have been whoever it was first sang it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 05:21 AM

Steve. Could very well be. I hadn't checked it.

I remember Bert lloyd introducing The Lover's Ghost (the one that starts off "You're welcome here again, said the young man to his love ........." by telling how someone had sent him a postcard from India. The card depicted a young man and a young woman in bed together, and the young man is drawing a bow and arrow, and is about to shoot the morning cock.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 07:04 AM

It may be older than you think.

The Song of Solomon
5


1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse:
         I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends; drink,
yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.



The Distress of Separation
2 I sleep, but my heart waketh:
         it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying,
Open to me, my sister, my love,
my dove, my undefiled:
for my head is filled with dew,
and my locks with the drops of the night.


3 I have put off my coat;
         how shall I put it on?
I have washed my feet;
how shall I defile them?


4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door,
         and my bowels were moved for him.


5 I rose up to open to my beloved;
         and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh,
upon the handles of the lock.


6 I opened to my beloved;
         but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone:
my soul failed when he spake:
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.


7 The watchmen that went about the city found me,
         they smote me, they wounded me;
the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.


8 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
         if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him,
that I am sick of love.


Note the eupemism that occurs in some of night visiting songs of the maid opening the door to let her lover in and opening, um, herself to let him in.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:51 AM

Hi, Snail, can you quote any versions of the family that can be definitely said to be a euphemism in this sense? Otherwise, to me it's just literal. On the other hand 'she opened the door in her nightie' is definitely a sexual double entendre. The old ones are the best!

Your 'Song of Solomon' seems to be full of symbolism, some of it erotic, but that doesn't mean our modern interpretations of the plot are.

Would that be perhaps 'foggy dew' in the second verse?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 10:13 AM

It's in the nature of euphemisms that they can't be definitely said. I'm thinking of the Cold Haily Rainy Night versions of the story in particular. Maybe it's just my lurid imagination but I think it's there.

The DT version @displaysong.cfm?SongID=1245 is not that direct but does keep harking back to the "let him in" line.

Oh then she rose and let him in
And kissed his ruby lips and chin
And then they went to bed again
And soon he gained her favor

Then she blessed the rainy night
She rose and let him in O
-
-
O then she cursed the rainy night
That ever she let him in O


This version is less subtle http://www.folkinfo.org/songs/displaysong.php?songid=3

And she's rose up and she's let him in,
She's kissed her true love cheek and chin,
And she's drawn him between the sheets again,
And she opened and she let him in-o.


as is this http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Let_Me_in_This_Ae_Nicht.htm

She let him in sae cannily
She let him in sae privily
She let him in sae cannily
To do the thing ye ken, jo


I would have thought the

for my head is filled with dew,
and my locks with the drops of the night.


lines relate more to the

My cap is frozen to my head
My heart is like a lump of lead
My shoes are frozen to my feet
With standing at your window


verses than Foggy Dew.

Basically, the chap is saying "I'm cold and wet and desparate for a shag. Let me in."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:28 AM

"Would that be perhaps 'foggy dew' in the second verse?"
..,,

No it wouldn't Steve, you old teasyweasy you...

〠☺〠~M~〠☺〠


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:30 AM

Interested that Snail's last post goes into Cold Haily... - wondered when that variant would arise.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 09:47 AM

Basically, the chap is saying "I'm cold and wet and desparate for a shag. Let me in."

Precisely, and that is so obvious that it makes using the further suggested euphemism of 'letting him in' unnecessary so why can't this just be literal. After all he couldn't do anything without her literally letting him in.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 10:14 AM

Maybe euphemism is the wrong word but surely there are two meanings.

And she's rose up and she's let him in,
She's kissed her true love cheek and chin,
And she's drawn him between the sheets again,
And she opened and she let him in-o.


What do you think the last line means? She's already let him into the room. He's already in the bed...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 10:35 AM

Luke Kelly had a great liking for Scottish songs, as can be seen from the Dubliners recordings.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 06:13 PM

In the verse you quote if that is not just a misplaced line, it still isn't a euphemism as it's extremely overt! I strongly suspect it's a misplaced line though. Will check earlier versions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 04:42 AM

The version I have from Lord Anson's Garland 18thc is very explicit so it does not need this stanza. Its equivalent is clear enough.

She let him in sea cunningly
She let him in sea privily
She let him in sea privily
To do the Thing ye ken Jo.

However there are lots of different early printed versions so I'll check them out as well.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 04:51 AM

The next longest version I have with 8 sts and as many choruses (The previous one had 9 sts) is again explicit rather than euphemistic.
The equivalent stanza is however closer to the first one given. It dates from 1869 and was printed in Glasgow.

The lassie rose and let him in,
No thinkin' on ocht ill bein' dune;
He kissed her rosy cheeks and chin,
And then he gained her fair,
   Oh! her sorrows began that ae nicht
   That ae, ae, ae nicht
   Her sorrows began that ae nicht,
   That she let him in, O.

The subsequent sts make it very plain what has gone on when the bottom fell out of the bed, nuirse's fees etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 04:57 AM

The regular anglicised 5 st versions printed in England around 1800 have the following st 4

O then she rose and let him in,
And kist his ruby lips and chin,
And into bed she jumpt with him,
Along with a roving soldier, O.
She blest the cold rainy night,
She rose from bed and let him in,
And he did not go back again O.

The last stanza is the commonplace, she asks to marry, he declines, she curses the rainy night etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 01:04 PM

Two copies (late?) of "Willy O" are listed at the Bodleian, neither available.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 01:41 PM

I have already said that "euphemism" might be the wrong word but I still think there is a play on words between the young lady opening the door/window and opening her legs.

This all rather distracts attention from my original point that that extract from The Song of Solomon does appear to be a relative of the night visiting songs although, in this case, not consumated.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 02:49 PM

Related in plot/subject certainly, but as a researcher/cataloguer of songs we normally reserve the word 'related' for songs that have some text in common.

As far as I can see 'Willy O' was only printed by Nugent and Birmingham in Dublin c1860 although there are a few sheets with no imprint that look to have come from the same presses, and one of these might be Brereton. I certainly haven't seen anything on broadsides out of Ireland, and remnants of it in oral tradition that can be traced back to Ireland. Someone sang it at my local club on Monday.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 07:18 AM

A little way back in this thread Steve Gardham said (typos corrected) "As far as I know the cock crowing is simply heralding the day when all ghosts must return to the grave, so the cock has no real supernatural significance in itself ..."

Or perhaps it does have. Paul Davenport provides this info:

"A small votive cockerel was recently (within the last ten years) discovered in a dig on a Roman site in York. The bronze effigy had traces of both silver and gold details. The pig and the cock are both animals sacred to Hermes/Mercury in his role as psychopomp, that is guide of the dead.

"Now one could argue that this merely means the song was written by someone who had seen one of these objects or…more excitingly, it means that the song carries forward a folk-belief in the potency of the cock as herald of the dawn. The druids had a riddle (I believe) 'Who councils the place where couches the sun? Who knows where the darkness and the dawn divide?' The answer is of course the cockerel. Its importance lies in the notion of liminality where, being in two states at one time creates the instability in which magic takes place."

While the grey cock could be just an ordinary cock about to do his thing of announcing the dawn, the offer to endow him with gold wings and silver comb (or, as I would prefer, vice versa) could be a reference to such votive offerings and an acknowledgment of his role in escorting the dead lover's soul to the afterlife. It makes little sense otherwise: one can hardly see an ordinary cock fitted with metallic prostheses. Sometimes the offer to the cock is instead a cage of gold, but that likewise makes little sense: why should he accept being caged at all?

Richard


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 02:36 PM

Considering the likelihood is that none of these songs date back any earlier than the 18th century, you are postulating links going back over a thousand years with no intervening evidence.

We also have to take into account when offering birds in general (not just cockerels)these rich rewards for their silence, the poetic imaginings of the writers, perhaps marginally influenced by classical references, but not just from Roman mythology or the druids.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 05:22 PM

Steve said
> Considering the likelihood is that none of these songs date back any earlier than the 18th century, you are postulating links going back over a thousand years with no intervening evidence. <

Not necessarily: as Paul said, it's also possible that the song was written by someone who had seen one of the votive offerings (and, presumably, was aware of its significance.)

> We also have to take into account when offering birds in general (not just cockerels)these rich rewards for their silence, the poetic imaginings of the writers, perhaps marginally influenced by classical references, but not just from Roman mythology or the druids. <

The two offers that spring to mind are to the parrot in the Outlandish Knight, who already lives in a cage and is offered a superior one; and to the bird in Young Hunting, who soon tells the girl what he thinks of her offer of (again) a cage. Are there any birds other than the cock that are offered gold and/or silver for parts of themselves? That does strike me as a bizarre notion, but it must have come from somewhere.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 06:20 PM

What strikes us today as bizarre might not have done in the 18th century and earlier. After all in poetry, and this is a type of poetry, anything can happen. Talking animals are fairly common. Some of the ballad makers were quite simple people who didn't necessarily put in a great deal of thought or sense, and often were just imitating a simple idea from elsewhere, classical mythology, folk-tale etc.

At the same time as giving animals speech and intelligence of a human sort, they also gave them human desires, such as a golden cage, golden wings, silver combs etc. Our ballads are not that far removed in content and ideas from the folk tales which abound in such things.

The parrot in Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight could well be an echo/corruption of the dove that warns sometimes the knight, sometimes the maid, as they ride off together from her father's hall, in early German versions. Such a ballad that is known all over Europe has been in and out of oral tradition and print and through the hands of antiquarians and poets for centuries. Then you have to factor in the borrowings from one ballad to another. Talking creatures and incongruities shouldn't surprise us.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 11:43 AM

Steve, look carefully at the bizarre practices of states and individuals over the the past 800 years or so and you discover a really strange fact. Whether it be Napoleon, who wished to be seen as a Roman Emperor and cast in the role of Mars, or as far back as the ghastly costume designs of Inigo Jones who similarly accessed the Classical world, there is a tendency to look backwards. Now in doing so, there is also a marked leaning towards the Greeks and the Romans and their worlds. Strangely, the Romans emulated the Greeks of an earlier period whilst reviling the Geeks of their own time. Since then there have been three main Classical revivals, the first known as the Renaissance and the second in the 18th century courtesy of Messrs. Adams, Jones et al. The last one occurred in the late 19th century and seems to have been usurped by the Neo-Gothic revival which left its mark as late as the 1930s. So, the allusion to the votive cockerel could have been made during any of these 'fashions' or indeed maintained by a tradition of re-using motives in art?
By the way, cultural links going back over 2000 years are common for these and other more obvious reasons. You can't accept tradition in folk song and then say it doesn't happen in art.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 03:51 PM

Of course there were classical revivals and they particularly entered folk song via the theatrical pieces of the 18th century. In fact they were riddled with classical references, but that doesn't mean the people who wrote or sang the songs believed in any of the folk-lore being inserted. Personally, in the case of the cock crowing, as eveybody has stated, the cockerel performs a particular literal and practical function, without need to include any hidden meanings.

I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs. You can all go off and play at being druids if you want to. I just don't buy all this fakelore when there are perfectly reasonable literal explanations.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who wrote The Night Visiting Song
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 05:23 PM

Steve writes '…performs a particular literal and practical function, without need to include any hidden meanings.'
You're right of course Steve, but only in our world. You have to see the song through the eyes and ears of another time. In that and most earlier periods of history the 'hidden meanings' were plain for all and indeed sought out simply because of their clevernesss. Now I suppose you'll want proof of that? Just visit your local Art Gallery and examine any 19th century painting. You'll see a tradition of 'hidden meanings' that goes back further than you can possibly imagine. I have no intention of playing at being a druid but I am an ex-arts teacher and creative artist and can assure you that 'hidden meanings' are something much more widespread and important than you wish to acknowledge.


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