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Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day

Artful Codger 26 Sep 12 - 05:13 PM
Artful Codger 26 Sep 12 - 05:56 PM
Jim Dixon 27 Sep 12 - 02:42 AM
r.padgett 27 Sep 12 - 03:02 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Sep 12 - 01:36 PM
Artful Codger 27 Sep 12 - 02:22 PM
Artful Codger 27 Sep 12 - 02:30 PM
IanC 28 Sep 12 - 07:27 AM
r.padgett 28 Sep 12 - 07:33 AM
IanC 28 Sep 12 - 07:59 AM
Artful Codger 28 Sep 12 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Denis Westmorland 09 Apr 13 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Beth Munnings-Winter 07 Jun 16 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 08 Jun 16 - 04:26 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Jun 16 - 04:10 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 05:13 PM

This well-known fox-hunting song was written and composed by William Williams. The original title appears to be "The Hunting Day", though it is now better known as "[A] Fine Hunting Day" or as "We'll All Go a-Hunting Today."

This is the earliest complete version I've found in an original printed source:


THE FINE HUNTING-DAY.

Song dedicated to the North Warwickshire Hunt, by W. Williams

   What a fine hunting-day!
   'Tis as balmy as May,
And the hounds to the village will come.
   Every friend will be there,
   And all trouble and care
Will be left far behind them at home.
   See servants and steeds on their way;
   The sportsmen their scarlet display:
      Let us join the glad throng
      That goes laughing along,
   And we'll all go a-hunting to-day.

         We'll all go a-hunting to day,
         For Nature is smiling and gay:
         So we'll join the glad throng
         That goes laughing along,
         And we'll all go a-hunting to-day.

   Farmer Hodge to his dame
   Says, "I'm sixty and lame;
Times are hard; and my rent I can't pay:
   But I don't care a jot
   If I make it or not,
For I must go a-hunting to day.
   There's a fox in the spinney, they say;
   We'll find him and get him away:
      I'll be first in the rush,
      And ride hard for the brush,
   So I must go a-hunting to-day."
         We'll all go, &c.

   There's the Doctor in boots,
   With a breakfast that suits
Him of strong home-brewed ale and good beef;
   And his patients in pain
   Say, "We're come once again
To consult you in hope of relief."
   To the poor he advice gave away,
   For the rich he prescribed and took pay;
      But to each one he said,
      "You will shortly be dead,
   If you don't go a-hunting to-day."
         You must go, &c.

   As the Judge sits in court
   He gets wind of the sport,
For the lawyers apply to adjourn,
   As no witnesses come,
   And there's none found at home,
They have followed the hounds and the horn.
   Says His Worship, " Great fines they must pay
   If they will not our summons obey;—
      Yet it's very fine sport,—
      So we'll break up the court,
   And we'll all go a-hunting to-day."
         We'll all go, &c.

   There is only one cure
   For all maladies sure,
That reaches the heart to its core,
   'Tis the sound of the horn
   On a fine hunting morn,
And where is the heart wishing more?
   It turneth the grave into gay,
   Makes pain unto pleasure give way,
      Makes the old become young,
      And the weak become strong,
   So we'll all go a-hunting to-day.
         We'll all go, &c.

Marlborough Upper School Songs [7th ed.], p.34. Marlborough: Printed at "The Times" office, 1901.


According to search snippets I was able to glean from Alexander Mackay-Smith's The Songs of Foxhunting (American Foxhound Club, 1974), Williams was born in 1805 and lived his early life in Wolverhampton, and he wrote the song in 1860. [I'm sure Mackay-Smith provided more information, I just don't have access to it.]

According to The hunting countries of England, their facilities, character and [so forth], Volume 1, p. 126, in addition to being a keen sportsman, Williams worked assiduously for the preservation of foxes and enjoyed watching them.

I also found parodies published in the mid-1890s and a corrupted, misattributed version of the song published in 1875.

Here are a couple of field recordings furnished to the British Library online traditional music collections by Steve Gardham:
George Jewell, The Fox and Hounds, Goldsborough, near Whitby, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Jack Breckhon, Esk Valley, North Yorkshire, England, UK


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 05:56 PM

The EFDSS Take Six site has a music manuscript from Sabine Baring Gould (SBG/3/13/9C) titled "Hunting song No.2" with no words except on the final line: "For we'll all go a-hunting today". I haven't hummed out the tune, but on the basis of these words I suspect it's a variant of "The Hunting Day". They give it a Roud no. 1172; the other entry on the site with the same Roud number, however, is an entirely different song, "Tally Ho" (GG/1/21/1371, from George Gardiner): "Oh the huntsman now is blowing his horn, Tally Ho, Hark away." Those lyrics do not contain the line given by Baring Gould.

On the Yorkshire Ramblers Club site: "Club Song" by Claude E. Benson, set to the tune "'Tis a fine hunting day" and obviously adapted from the same text.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 02:42 AM

Here are 2 more verses, found in The Hopetoun Stairs: A Collection of Songs for Wellington College (Printed by G. Bishop, 1880), page 48:

    Then the village bells chime;
    There's a wedding at nine,
And the parson unites the fond pair!
    But he hears the sweet sounds
    Of the horn and the hounds,
And he knows it is time to be there.
    Says he, "For your welfare I'll pray.
    I regret I no longer can stay.
        Now you're safely made one,
        I must quickly be gone,
    For I must go a-hunting to-day."

    None were left in the lurch
    For all friends at the church,
With beadle and clerk and all near,
    All determined to go,
    And to shout "Tally-ho!"
And the ringers all joined in the rear;
    With bridegroom and bride in array,
    Everyone to each other did say,
        "Let us join the glad throng
        That goes laughing along,
    And we'll all go a-hunting to-day."


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: r.padgett
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 03:02 AM

Yes looks as though 6 verses in this!

Appears in "Hunters songs" 'by various composers' of the Holme Valley Beagles Hunt compiled from 'old records' (not sure what this one means! in 1948 by Thomas Dufton of Holmfirth

Minor wording changes, as Holmevalley was an active hunt (st$ill is I believe!)
Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 01:36 PM

I have the sheet music in front of me now.

Cover details:-

THE HUNTING DAY,
SONG,
Dedicated to
"The North Warwickshire Hunt."
Words and Music
BY
Wm. Williams.
Ent. Sta> Hall. Price 4/-
Birmingham
Sabin & Stockley, 17 & 18, Ann Street
Just Published,
"Hark Thro' The Forest" (Hunting Song) By the late HENRY PHILLIPS. PRICE 2/- NET.

(I have pencilled in the date 1860 and the cover has an imprint signature W.W. There are no further details on the inside pages other than the score and text.
There are 7 verses as given above, Jim's 2 verses being 5 and 6.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 02:22 PM

There's a version posted on Zierke's "Mainly Norfolk" pages for the Watersons: "We'll All Go a-Hunting Today". Their source (per A.L. Lloyd) was David Hillery, who got it from Jack Beeforth, a North Yorks singer.

There is a version in Roy Palmer's Everyman's Book of English Country Songs (p. 213) which reportedly came from the Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse, no. 237.

There is a version posted on Old Norris' Fox Hunting Page, with a note citing Roy Palmer's Everyman's Book, which I take to be the source of the transcription.

Leader issued an LP recording (LEE 4056, 1975) titled "A Fine Hunting Day", recorded by the Holme Valley Beagles which presumably featured this song, though the only near-matching title is "On a Fine Hunting Morn", and none of the songs has a matching Roud number (1172, per the Waterson page and the Baring Gould score listing). A track list (thanks to Reinhard Zierke again) may be found here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 02:30 PM

There used to be a recording on YouTube of Denis Westmorland singing this song; it sounded as if it came from a commercial recording (not the Leader LP—Westmorland was not one of the singers there). Sadly, the YouTube clip is no longer available.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: IanC
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 07:27 AM

Dunno if the search engine's up the creek, but I could swaer I put a load of stuff up about this song years ago, including details of an early performance in Australia.

I know I wrote to the Warwickshire Hunt for information about the author, but they don't seem to know anything.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: r.padgett
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 07:33 AM

IanC see Steve Gardham's ref abolve re provenance

I have Alan Bell song book showing the song and music and have heard it sung by Derek Elliott as club favourite in 1970s and 80s

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: IanC
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 07:59 AM

Seen this. I had been looking for more details.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 02:57 PM

The title page for The Hopetoun Stairs says that the songs were principally taken from Marlborough Upper School Songs. Verses 5 and 6 must have been dropped by the time of the 7th edition of the latter. When was the 1st edition published?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: GUEST,Denis Westmorland
Date: 09 Apr 13 - 04:31 AM

Song is on CD "Beautiful Lakeland".www.deniswestmorland.org.07884 314592


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: GUEST,Beth Munnings-Winter
Date: 07 Jun 16 - 07:43 AM

I've enjoyed reading all the information kindly supplied by those who've written above me ~ thank-you!
I stumbled on this thread while doing a little research on this poem, which is much quoted by Sir Alfred Munnings in his 3-volume autobiography. He calls it "the best hunting song ever written" (and he knew a few)!
Also to note, the sporting artist Gilbert Holiday compiled a thin but (not surprisingly) beautifully-illustrated book published in 1933 and titled "We'll All go a-Hunting Today".


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 08 Jun 16 - 04:26 AM

Derbyshire traditional singer George Fradley sang a version. Probably now available on a Veteran Records download.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Hunting Day / Fine Hunting Day
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jun 16 - 04:10 PM

I think there are various recordings that can be accessed free on the British Library Sound Archive. If you put my name or the title of the song in the search box it should bring up at least one full version.

I think the reason for its popularity is old hunting songs normally largely fall into 2 categories, those flowery Bright Phoebus pieces written for the 18thc theatre and those long local pieces detailing a day's hunting naming every spot on the map and everyone present. FHD is a more homely piece of a more general nature that would appeal to more ordinary country people.


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