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Tune Req: Drawing Near to the Merry Month of May

DigiTrad:
DRAWING NEARER TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
OLD SWINTON MAY SONG


Related thread:
Lyr Add: Swinton May Songs #'s 1 and 2 (20)


GUEST,Bill Huguenot 05 Jun 10 - 06:48 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jun 10 - 10:37 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jun 10 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Bill Huguenot 06 Jun 10 - 09:00 AM
Vic Smith 06 Jun 10 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Bill Huguenot 06 Jun 10 - 10:42 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jun 10 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,Bill Huguenot 06 Jun 10 - 05:42 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jun 10 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Bill Huguenot 06 Jun 10 - 07:54 PM
Marje 07 Jun 10 - 05:47 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jun 10 - 06:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jun 10 - 06:49 AM
greg stephens 07 Jun 10 - 07:38 AM
Marje 07 Jun 10 - 08:54 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jun 10 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 08 Jun 10 - 02:57 AM
Marje 08 Jun 10 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 08 Jun 10 - 09:47 AM
greg stephens 08 Jun 10 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Ian Lever 08 Jun 10 - 03:00 PM
Marje 09 Jun 10 - 08:52 AM
Jim Dixon 15 Jun 10 - 05:41 PM
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Subject: Tune Req: Copper Family Drawing Near to the Merry
From: GUEST,Bill Huguenot
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 06:48 PM

I am looking for the tune for the Copper Family song Drawing Near to the Merry Month of May. Can any one help?


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Subject: RE: Tune: Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry of May
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 10:37 PM

The song is already in the Digital Tradition. It was recorded by the Watersons (and by Herdman, Hills, & Mangsen) as Swinton May Song.

I have lots of Copper recordings and two Copper songbooks, and can't find this song in any of them - so I don't know if they sang it with the same tune as did the Watersons and HH&M.


This tune is close to what I hear on the Watersons recording, but I don't know it the Copper Family used the same tune.

Click to play

Tune from English Country Songbook (Roy Palmer), page 133


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Subject: ADD Version:Drawing Near Unto the Merry Mo. of May
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 12:21 AM

There's a version of this in a book called Lancashire Sketches, by Edwin Waugh (1869), page 78. Waugh got his text from a book called Lancashire Ballads.

DRAWING NEAR UNTO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY

All in this pleasant evening together come are we
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
We'll tell you of a blossom that buds on every tree
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

Rise up the master of this house put on your chain of gold
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
We hope you're not offended (with) your house we make so bold
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

Rise up the mistress of this house with gold along (upon) your breast
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
And if your body be asleep I hope your soul's at rest
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

Rise up the children of this house all in your rich attire
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

God bless this house and harbour your riches and your store
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
We hope the Lord will prosper you both now and evermore
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

So now we're going to leave you in peace and plenty here
For the summer springs so fresh green and gay
We shall not sing you May again until another year
For to draw you the cold winter away


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: GUEST,Bill Huguenot
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 09:00 AM

Thanks for the information. I had noted the similarity with the Swinton May Song and have the tune for this, but I was wondering whether anyone knew whether or not the Copper Family version was sung to the same tune or not (and if not what their tune is). So far as I can see there does not seem to be any recording of the Copper Family version, though the Digital Tradition attributes it to them.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 09:25 AM

I've been listening to the Coppers since the 1960's, compered all their Coppersong club evenings and have booked them countless times at my club in Lewes - and I've never them sing the words listed above as DRAWING NEAR UNTO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY so I would say the digital tradition is wrong. The words such as "God bless this house...." etc. suggest that the song derives from a house-visiting ritual and ritual songs are largely absent from the Coppers' repertoire except for Christmas carols (and fox-hunting songs which some people would class as ritual songs.)


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: GUEST,Bill Huguenot
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 10:42 AM

Dear Vic
It is good to have this confirmed by an expert. But if the version on the Digital Traditon is wrongly attributed, where does it come from and what tune does it go to? I would be grateful if someone could help with this. Bill


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Subject: RADD: Pleasant Month of May (Copper Family)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 11:57 AM

Hi, Vic-
That's the suspicion I had, that the DT is wrong. Did the Copper Family sing a song titled "Drawing Near to the Merry Month of May" at all, or is there no song of the sort?
Bill Huguenot, where did you get your information - from the Digital Tradition?
Now, there IS a Copper Family song called "The Pleasant Month of May" - it's in the Digital Tradition as Month of May, but the DT lyrics aren't completely the same as as the Copper Family song.
My guess is that Drawing Near to the Merry Month of May in the Digital Tradition, is a poor transcription of the Watersons "Swinton May Song" and has nothing to do with the Copper Family.
Here's the DT version:

MONTH OF MAY

`Twas in the pleasant month of May,
In the springtime of the year,
And down in yonder meadow
There runs a river clear.
See how the little fishes,
How they do sport and play;
Causes many a lad and many a lass
To go there a-making hay.

Then in comes that scythesman,
That meadow to now down,
With his old leathered bottle
And the ale that runs so brown.
There's many a stout and a labouring man
Goes there his skill to try;
He works, he mows, he sweats, he blows,
And the grass cuts very dry.

Then in comes both Tom and Dick
With their pitchforks and their rakes,
And likewise black-eyed Susan
The hay all for to make.
There's a sweet, sweet, sweet and a jug, jug, jug;
How the harmless birds do sing
From the morning to the evening
As were a-haymaking.

It was just at one evening
As the sun was a-going down,
We saw the jolly piper
Come a-strolling through the town.
There he pulled out his tapering pipes
And he made the valleys ring;
So we all put down our rakes and forks
And we left off haymaking.

We called for a dance
And we tripped it along;
We danced all round the haycocks
Till the rising of the sun.
When the sun did shine such a glorious light,
How the harmless birds did sing;
Each lad he took his lass in hand
And went back to his haymaking.

@seasonal @farm @music @drink
Sung by the Copper Family
filename[ MONTHMAY
JY


Here is the Copper Family song, "Pleasant Month of May." It's not much different from the DT version - just the title and a word here and there.

PLEASANT MONTH OF MAY

`Twas in the pleasant month of May, in the springtime of the year,
And down by yonder meadow, there runs a river clear.
See how the little fishes, how they do sport and play,
Causing many a lad and many a lass to go there a-making hay.

Then in comes the scytheman, that meadow to mow down,
With his old leathered bottle and the ale that runs so brown.
There's many a stout and labouring man comes here his skill to try,
He works, he mows, he sweats and blows, and the grass cuts very dry.

Then in comes both Tom and Dick, with their pitchforks and their rakes,
And likewise black-eyed Susan, the hay all for to make.
There's a sweet, sweet, sweet and a jug, jug, jug; how the harmless birds do sing
From the morning to the evening as were a-haymaking.

It was just at one evening as the sun was a-going down,
We saw the jolly piper come a-strolling through the town.
There he pulled out his tapering pipes, and he made the valley ring,
So we all put down our rakes and forks, and we left off haymaking.

We call-ed for a dance, and we tripp-ed it along,
We danced all round the haycocks, till the rising of the sun.
When the sun did shine such a glorious light, and the harmless birds did sing,
Each lad he took his lass in hand, and went back to his haymaking.


Source: A Song for Every Season, (Bob Copper) page 229.



@seasonal @farm @music @drink
Sung by the Copper Family
filename[ MONTHMAY
JY

Click to Play


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: GUEST,Bill Huguenot
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 05:42 PM

The only information that I had was from the Digital Tradition which clearly states Copper Family as the origin. The words are much the same as the Swinton May Song, but rightly or wrongly, I assumed that it must be a different song, possibly with a different tune. If so, I was trying to discover what the tune was. Bill


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 05:56 PM

Hi, Bill- Yeah, I think the DT may be wrong on this one It's clear that there are a number of variations of "Near to the Merry Month of May"/"Swinton May Song" but the one in the Digital Tradition seems like it's incomplete - and not from the Copper Family. On the other hand, "Pleasant Month of May" (a totally different song) is definitely from the Coppers.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: GUEST,Bill Huguenot
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 07:54 PM

Thanks Joe. I suppose proving a negative is better than nothing, but how it came to be attributed to the Coppers remains a puzzle. Bill


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Marje
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:47 AM

The tune is quite similar to the Padstow May Song (Unite and Unite..), so they may be related. I've never come across this one in the Coppers repertoire (where's Jon Dudley when you need him?).

It doesn't seem particularly puzzling to me, Bill, that it's wrongly attributed to the Coppers on the Digital Tradition. The DT is not a scholarly, authoritative work, it's more like a Wikepedia of folk, and this is very probably a simple mistake. Someone has most likely confused it with Pleasant Month of May (above) which is a completely different, unrelated song.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 06:09 AM

As a Swinton lad I cannot let a mention of the May song go unpassed without commenting that the song listed is the old May song - Swinton did have not one but two May songs as detailed in Chambers book of days on the entry for April 24. It is also noted that the May songs are sung during April and the words possibly confirm this in saying 'drawing near' to the merry month of May.

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 06:49 AM

Just noticed an error in the online edition of the book - The last 2 lines of the old May song have been put immediately after the first two. Ah well, the joys transposition I guess:-)

D.


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 07:38 AM

An obvious question about this song(ignore the Copper family connection, that is a DT mistake): which came first, Padstow or Swinton? They are clearly versions of the same song, words and tune, but Padstow and Swinton are a long way apart. Are they both versions of a widespread song throughout England, which died out in all points in between? (I am basing all this on the fact that I am un aware of any versions anywhere between Padstow and Swinton, but I may be wrong on this). Or did the song go from one place to the other by sea, thus explaining why there aren't any intermediate versions up the A30/M5/M6 route?
Anybody read any theories on this? Or got any ideas opf your own?


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Marje
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 08:54 AM

The sea route seems a bit improbable, as it's not a seafarer's song.
More likely there were other versions around the country which have not been recorded or remembered.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 01:47 PM

...and Swinton ain't too near the sea! Although we are only about 4 miles from the Docks on the Ship Canal at Salford.

D


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 02:57 AM

Here I am Marje - been drinking wine in France with John and Jill. Vic is correct, ours is called 'The Pleasant Month of May' and the text is as per Joe's second text. Bob was sent a version many years ago which was broadly similar but much more explicit vis-a-vis the goings on around the haycock...


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Marje
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 07:35 AM

Thanks Jon! I was pretty sure Vic was right, as he's the next-best source to an actual Copper, but it's nice to hear it confirmed. We look forward to reading the new, uncensored version of the Pleasant Month of May here some day!

Marje


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 09:47 AM

All I'll say is that it's what you'd expect of a restoration-era song - bawdy explicit and delightful!


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 02:28 PM

Marje: boats don't only transmit shanties! Look how many songs and tunes crossed the Atlantic. I think the sea route is most likely...fishing boats moved around with the seasons, so many people spent long periods of times based in Padstow when they actually came from far away. Conversely, many Cornish people moved in the 19th century in large groups to settle in other mining areas. Padstow, Liverpool Swinton is perfectly likely.
A singnificant point may well be the fact that many boats went to Padstow from far and wide for the May Day revels in the 19th century. So their crew would soon learn the May Song(it is in fact impossible to get out of your head after a day of incessant drumming in Padstow!)


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: GUEST,Ian Lever
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 03:00 PM

Greg, I think that it might also possibly originate from Cheshire, or was at least current in Cheshire, I remember a pamphlet of Cheshire folksongs in the 1970s - unfortunately mislaid with moving houses several times over the years. It was just called Cheshire May Day Carol I. It had an additional verse:

Come forth the maiden of this house all in your gown of silk
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
For you are worthy of a man with forty cows to milk
Drawing near unto the merry month of May

Perhaps someone else knows of the pamphlet? It also contained a second Cheshire May Day Carol II, Marco and Pedro ( I think this originally came from a broadsheet published in Manchester) the rest I can't remember at the moment.

Maybe it could fit in with the boat theory as Chester was a major port until the Dee silted up too much?

Ian Lever, Red Lion, Malpas


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Subject: RE: Tune:Copper Family-Drawing Near to Merry Mo of May
From: Marje
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 08:52 AM

I do like that line: "You are worthy of a man with 40 cows to milk"! And yet it is slightly unsettling - I think if I were that maiden, I'd be concerned that the man with the 40 cows was looking for a skivvy to milk them for him.

Marje


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Subject: Lyr Add: DRAWING NEAR TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jun 10 - 05:41 PM

Here's another version. Note that the writer implies more verses could be added as needed; one for each member of the family being serenaded:

From Memoirs of Seventy Years of an Eventful Life by Charles Hulbert (Providence Grove, Near Shrewsbury: Printed by the author, 1852), page 107:

With feelings of indescribable pleasure, I still call to my remembrance various customs and scenes familiar to my early years. Still present is the delight with which I hailed the approach of May-day morning, when a select company of the musical Rustics of Worsley, Swinton and Eccles, would assemble at midnight to commence the grateful task of saluting their neighbours with the sound of the Clarionet, Hautboy, German Flute, Violin, and the melody of twenty voices. On this occasion the leader of the band would commence his song under the window or before the outer door of the family "he delighted to honour" with

O rise up Master of this House, all in your chain of gold,
  For the summer springs so fresh, green and gay;
I hope you'll not be angry at us for being so bold,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

О rise up Mistress of this House, all in your gown of green,
  For the summer springs so fresh, green and gay;
Your countenance so lovely, you are fitting for a Queen,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

О rise up Master Hulbert, and take your pen in hand,
  For the summer springs so fresh, green and gay;
For you are a famous scholar as we do understand,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up Miss Mary ––, so beautiful and fair,
  For the summer springs so fresh, green and gay;
The beauty of Fair Rosamond cannot with you compare,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

In this strain, including some encomiums or happy allusion to the various qualifications of all the other branches of the family the whole were saluted: after which a purse of silver or a few mugs of good ale were distributed among the company; thus they proceeded from house to house, tilling the air with their music and happy voices, till six o'clock in the morning.


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