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Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse

GUEST,Stokoe - Songs and Ballads Of Northern Engla 26 Sep 13 - 06:03 AM
GUEST 26 Sep 13 - 07:03 AM
Fergie 26 Sep 13 - 11:13 AM
Fergie 26 Sep 13 - 11:21 AM
Gibb Sahib 26 Sep 13 - 02:25 PM
Stewart 26 Sep 13 - 02:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 26 Sep 13 - 03:14 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Sep 13 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 13 - 12:11 PM
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Subject: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: GUEST,Stokoe - Songs and Ballads Of Northern Engla
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 06:03 AM

Love this lyric from the above book. I don't read 'the dots' so, seeking a version of this with the melody. Found one or two similar songs but, wondered if anyone knew of a rendition of this exact piece? Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 07:03 AM

or similar?!?!


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Fergie
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 11:13 AM

Hi

Try this link Johnnie Collins

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Fergie
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 11:21 AM

OR maybe it's this one Shirley Collins

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 02:25 PM

Well, which song is it? Does the text give some backstory like, "This was sung during sailors' 'working off a dead horse' ceremony, yada yada"? If so, it is probably the chanty!


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 02:50 PM

From my Song Page

"It seems probable that the Poor Old Horse is in origin the magic-endowed wild stallion of the pagan fertility rites in pre_Roman Britain. In later Christian adaptation he became a horse's skull, painted in garish colors and carried round from house to house begging alms at Christmastide. For this observance it was customary to procure the skull from a hunting stable after the horse's flesh had been eaten by the hounds." John Runge

From Cecil Sharp's 'Folk Songs of England', Poor Old Horse is a landlubber relative of the familiar sea shanty: Say, old man, your horse will die,   And I say so and I hope so,   And if he dies I'll sell his skin, Poor old horse.
There can be no doubt that the land-variant, which Sharp found as a part of the hobby-horse drama in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire, is older by far. The hobby horse, an important actor in British springtime ceremonies, is a fantastic and sometimes terrifying mask which covers the entire body of the dancer. The horse-dancer goes the round of the community, often on May Day, alternately dying and being revived by his companions, symbolizing the death of the old year, and of the fertility of the earth. These spring-time antics of the hobby-horse, which still amuse tourists in certain remote districts of western England, are a genuine survival of ancient pagan fertility rites. That a horse-mask dances in Britain on May Day is one more evidence of the importance of the horse-cult, widespread in all Europe thousands of years ago. Therefore, this charming little comic fragment, which   Sharp had taught to all the school children in Britain, is a gentle breath of a pagan fertility rite that once upon a time was a compound of magic, religion, comedy and sex.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 03:14 PM

But the chanty is more directly derived from American minstrelsy. "Poor Old MAN" was by far the more common phrase in historical chanty-singing ("horse" has received undue weight, presumably because a "reviver" used a "horse" rendition as his/her source, which then caught on).

Sharp thought minstrelsy was crap, and if he could put the blinders on and ignore 'pop' music's influence on anything he found sung by Englishmen, I believe he did.

I believe Sharp was speculating on the cultural resemblance between the two *ceremonies* involving a fake horse. If he was saying the *songs* were related, then that's an unwarranted leap! The chanty is entirely in the style of both chanty form (African-American call and response) and minstrel language... it mentions a horse and seems to have been adapted to the "Dead Horse" ceremony as such. I don't have enough info, but it seems plausible that the ceremony replicated a particularly English custom. I don't recall the details offhand, but I believe the "Dead Horse" ceremony was somewhat limited, mainly to certain vessels and "runs," notably Britain > Australia.

'Origins' certainly have many components. Just noting the one. In any case, the chanty is really not like the Shirley Collins one! - and it's the tune, not origins that's being asked for.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 03:57 PM

"Poor Old Horse" ("land" version) was used for house-visiting around the New Year in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The song seems to derive from a broadside ballad about an old horse, first printed around 1850.

The Maytime "obby oss" is something else entirely, being a native of the southwest rather than the North. I've never seen any evidence that either of them go back to "pre_Roman Britain", to "ancient pagan fertility rites", let alone to "the horse-cult, widespread in all Europe thousands of years ago" (nothing like upping the ante).

Here's a version of "Poor Old Horse", sung and played by a confirmed sceptic.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: O Poor Old Horse
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 12:11 PM

Dug the book back out in response to my original post.

Book states;

" From William Topliss's 'Melodies Of the Tyne and Wear', published over 50 years ago. This song, or one nearly identical, was also formerly common to the mummers of North Yorkshire at Christmas time. the person who sung the song was masked as an old horse, and at the end of evry verse the jaws were snapped in chorus".

From 'Songs Of Northern England', by John Stokoe c.1893


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