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Origins: The H'emmer Jane

Joe Offer 07 Feb 22 - 05:24 PM
Joe Offer 08 Feb 22 - 02:28 AM
Joe Offer 08 Feb 22 - 02:36 AM
Matthew Edwards 09 Feb 22 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,mtaft 19 Nov 22 - 02:32 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 22 - 03:06 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 22 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 19 Nov 22 - 05:49 PM
meself 19 Nov 22 - 08:05 PM
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Subject: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Feb 22 - 05:24 PM

Haven't seen any discussion of this song here. Valentine Doyle sang it at the Mudcat Worldwide Singaround today.

H'Emmer Jane, The


DESCRIPTION: "Now 'tis of a young maiden this story I tell, and of her young lover...." Her love, a ship's captain, sails away and is presumed lost. H'Emmer Jane goes crazy and drowns herself. He finally returns; shown the grave of his beloved, he dies himself.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1941 (Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs)
KEYWORDS: love separation death drowning humorous
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs 50, "The H'Emmer Jane" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle-OldTimeSongsAndPoetryOfNewfoundland, "The H'Emmer Jane" (1 text, 1 tune): p. 45 in the 4th edition, p. 21 in the 5th
Blondahl-NewfoundlandersSing, p. 105, "H'Emmer Jane" (1 text, 1 tune)
Guigné-ForgottenSongsOfTheNewfoundlandOutports, pp. 161-164, "H'emmer Jane" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #4425
RECORDINGS:
Omar Blondahl, "The H'Emm'r Jane" (on NFOBlondahl03)
Lloyd Soper, "H'emmer Jane" (on NFAGuigné01)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. Vilikens and His Dinah (tune, meter and same satirical treatment of story) and references there
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Emmer Jane
NOTES [556 words]: Satire on popular broadsides and ballads of the period that told such melodramatic tales in great seriousness. Lyrics are written in imitation of an exaggerated Newfoundland accent, [e.g.] "On a cold stormy mornin' all down by the sea, H'Emmer Jane sot a-waitin', sot a'waitin' for 'e. On a cold stormy mornin' her body were found, so t'was figgered pretty ginerally she'd gone crazy and got drowned."
[The] date from a broadside set by Golden Hind Press, Madison NJ, 1941. States that "Emmer Jane is a fold song from the south shore on Newfoundland here printed for the first time." - SL
The dead captain is recognized because he is carrying H'Emmer Jane's handkerchief. If a [broken] ring is a man's token to be kept by a woman then perhaps the woman's token is her handkerchief. That is true in "Jack Robinson" where Jack reveals himself to his old lover by showing her handkerchief. See also the French ballad "Arthur" [indexed here] where the heroine embroiders Arthur's name on her handkerchief. Maybe the question is: How much credit do we give H"Emmer Jane's author for familiarity with the broadside scene? Is Jane's name a reference to "Crazy Jane" [also indexed here, with allusions to its many parodies]?
H'Emmer Jane's handkerchief is found in the vest-pocket of the Captain's "cold carcass"; in a modern literal (?) reading of "The Suffolk Miracle," the daughter's "holland handkerchief" is found around her dead young man's head [but then there's the counter-example of "The Silvery Tide" in which the murdered Mary is found bound by the murderer's handkerchief].
Soper's 1951 recording includes an introduction by the singer. Soper says "H'emmer Jane is a folk song which comes to us from the northeast coast of Newfoundland. At least, that's what was picked up several years ago by Bob McLeod who worked [I'm not sure about the word 'worked'] for Mr. Gerald Doyle in compiling a couple of books of Newfoundland folk songs."
Soper refers to the line in his text, "with a boatload of shingles our captain sailed away": "As far as we know, this is a Newfoundland folk song. The references are local. The idiom is local. And most of all, the melody [that] is followed ['Vilikens and His Dinah'] is one that has been frequently used in various poems for several Newfoundland folk songs. The only point that causes me to query at the authenticity of it as a Newfoundland folk song is one reference there to 'shingles' -- 'a boatload of shingles' -- which would indicate that it might have originated, probably, in Cape Breton because shingles are not a local product, strictly speaking. However, it is now accepted as a Newfoundland folk song, and there's no desire to disown it or let anybody else gain the benefit of the origin of it."
The point about the locality of the tune is not convincing and Guigné-ForgottenSongsOfTheNewfoundlandOutports has a long discussion of the history of the tune as a stage favorite across the English-speaking world and as a common vehicle for poems that could be fit to the meter and tune. In the case of "H'emmer Jane" the last line of each verse is often so long that its words must be clipped and jammed together to fit the tune. - BS
Might the original intent have been to have the last line of the verse peter off into spoken speech? That would account for metrical irregularities. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.0
File: FowM050

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



H’emmer Jane Performed by Lloyd Soper; PEA 1 No. 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdfO5dREGSQ


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Subject: ADD:: The H'emmer Jane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Feb 22 - 02:28 AM

THE 'H'EMMER JANE

Now ’tis of a young maiden this story I tell,
And of her young lover, and what them befell.
Now her lover was a sea captain and he sailed the blue sea,
And this is the circumstances surroundin’ the departure of 'e.

Now the vessel ’e sailed on was called the H'Emmer Jane.
’Twas in riverence of she that he gi’ed her that name,
So that while ’e was sailin’ all o’er the blue sea
The vessel that ’e sailed in might mind ’e of she.

With a boatload of shingles our Captain sailed away,
Sailed away from his true love all on a summer’s day,
And he never more was heard of, nor his vessel so brave,
So ’twas figgered pretty generally that he found a watery grave.

On a cold stormy mornin’ all down by the sea
H’Emmer Jane sot a-waitin’, sot a-waitin’ for ’e.
On a cold stormy mornin’ her body were found,
So ’twas figgered pretty ginerally she'd gone crazy and got drowned.

They buried her up in the buryin’ ground,
And they put up a headstone tellin’ how she were found,
And over her head they sot out a willer tree
That the wind in the branches might mind dey of she.

Not so very long after these here t’ings occurred
A stranger comes to town where H’Emmer Jane happened to be bur’d,
And he axed of the sexton where H’Emmer Jane might be.
The sexton answered by pointin' to the old willer tree.

Next mornin’ they found ’im by the side of H’Emmer Jane.
They found ’is cold carcass insensibly a-layin’,
And in his brist pocket were a handkerchief of her’n,
So ’twas figgered pretty ginerally ’twas the Captain returned.

They buried ’e up in a grave close by ’er,
And over his head they sot out a wild brier.
Now the wind in the willer is in memory of she,
And the wild brier twist round 'en is in memory of'e.


Notes:
50. The ‘H'Emmer Jane'
Clyde Gilmour, Toronto, 1957
This lachrymose lament goes to the ubiquitous tune of 'Villikens and His Dinah,' used for several Newfoundland songs, and, like that more famous ballad, it satirizes the broadsides which old such heart-rending stories in all seriousness. No one seems to know who is responsible for the tearful tale, Jut it is much beloved in Newfoundland. A broadside set at the Golden Hind Press in Madison, NJ., in 1941 gives a text as sung by Eric Penny and claims: 'Emmer Jane is a folk song from the south shore of Newfoundland, here printed for the first time.’ A version from C. M. Lane of St John’s appears in More Folk Songs of Canada 156), and a version from Bob MacLeod is in the 1966 Doyle songbook 49).
In a letter (11 September 1972) Mr MacLeod writes: ‘I first heard it sung by a man in an Indian Bay lumbering camp during a visit there about 1939 or 1940 when I was helping he late Gerald S. Doyle to collect songs for his Newfoundland song book .... I used it many times in Newfoundland programmes I did for entertainment at convention gatherings both here at home and in the Maritimes, Probably as a result of this it did become more well known.’
Clyde Gilmour learned it from Mr MacLeod when he was stationed in St John’s during the Second World War, and his version has acquired a few variations. It is always sung with an exaggerated Newfoundland accent.


Source: #50 (pp 120-121) in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Compiled by Edith Fowke (Penguin Books, 1973)


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Subject: ADD Version: The H'emmer Jane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Feb 22 - 02:36 AM

#03448

The H'Emmer Jane (Omar Blondahl)

See also: The H'Emmer Jane (Edith Fowke)

Now 'tis of a young lady this story I'll tell,
And of her young lover and what them befell;
Now her lover been a captain
that sailed the blue sea,
And these here be the circumstances
'tending the departure of he.

The vessel he sailed on
were called the H'Emmer Jane,
'Twere in honour of she that he gave her that name,
So that when he been sailin' all over the sea,
The wind in the riggin' would remind him of she.

With a boatload of shingles
this here captain sailed away,
Sailed away from his true love
all on a summer's day,
And he ne'er more been heard of,
nor his vessel so brave,
So ye could figgered pretty generally
that he'd met a watery grave.

Every cold, stormy evening all down by the sea,
H'Emmer Jane sot awaiting, sot awaiting for he;
One cold, stormy morning her body been found,
So it was figgered pretty generally
that she got crazy and drowned.

They buried her out in the old buryin' ground,
And they thought up a headstone
tellin' how she been found;
And close by the headstone they sot a willer tree,
So the wind in the willers would remind him of she.

Not very long after these here things had occurred,
A stranger come to town where
H'Emmer Jane been interred,
And he axed of the sexton,
where H'Emmer Jane might be,
And he answered by pointin' to the old willer tree.

The very next morning alongside H'Emmer Jane,
They found his cold carcass, insensible a-layin';
And in his vest pocket were a handkerchief of her'n,
So it was figgered pretty generally
'twas the captain's return.

They laid his cold carcass in a grave close by her,
And over his head they sot up a wild brier;
Now the wind in the willer is the same as the sea,
And the wild brier twisting 'round it
is in memory of she.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a broadside ballad published in 1941 by Golden Hind Press (Madison, NJ) which notes that Emmer Jane is a folk song from the south shore of Newfoundland here printed for the first time. ...####

This variant recorded by Omar Blondahl [Sagebrush Sam] (Songs Of Sea And Shore, trk#4, 1959 LP, Arc Sound Ltd, Toronto, ON).

Also published on p.105 of Newfoundlanders, Sing!: A Collection Of Favorite Newfoundland Folk Songs compiled by Omar Blondahl and published for Robin Hood Flour Mills (E J Bonnell Associates, St John's, NL, 1964).

See more songs by Omar Blondahl.

A variant was also sung by Clyde Gilmour and published as #50, The H'Emmer Jane, by Edith Fowke (editor) with Keith MacMillan (music consultant) on p.153 of The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, (1973). Gilmour heard the song in Newfoundland from a lumberman.

GEST notes that the word 'sot' appears several times in the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English, usually within quotations which serve as examples of usage for defined words. The word itself is obscurely defined on page two of the Introduction to the Dictionary. It is used in this song as the past tense of the verb 'sit' and 'set' spoken with a Newfoundland dialect.

Source: http://gestsongs.com/35/hemmer.htm
GEST Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 09 Feb 22 - 06:36 PM

Thanks for the reminder of this song. It was recorded by Edith Fowke from the singing of Clyde Gilmour, and issued by Leader records on an LP 'Far Canadian Fields' LEE 057 in 1975. There have been lots of discussions here on Mudcat, and elsewhere, about the fate of the Leader label so you can look those up if you wish.
I'm delighted to know the song is still around. I have only ever heard it sung once in all these years by John Bentham.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: GUEST,mtaft
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 02:32 PM

May not be a Newfoundland song. It is published (in somewhat condensed form) in The Stonewall Song Book. Richmond, VA: West & Johnson, 1865, pp.26-27. See https://digital.library.pitt.edu/islandora/object/pitt%3A31735061821256/viewer#page/26/mode/2up
It is written in dialect that might very well be Newfoundland speech, so the possibility exists that the song migrated south. But I suspect a big-city stage version as a more likely origin, given its satirical nature.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 03:06 PM

Thank you very much for finding that, mtaft. I like the humor in this version.

EMMA JANE

’Tis of a young maiden that a story I’ll tell,
Also of her lovieur, and what them befell,
Oh! her lovieur was a salieur, he sailed the salt sea,
And the consequences attending his parting from she.
And the consequences-, &c.

Oh! the vessel of the Captain was called the Emma Jane,
And in honor of his true love the Captain gave her that name.
But he never more was heard of, nor his vessel so brave.
And ’twas calculated, pretty generally she found a watery grave—
And ’twas calculated, &c.

On a cold stone all summer, by the side of the sea,
This maiden kept a watching; and awaiting for he
Till on one cold frosty morning in the water she was found.
And it was calculated, pretty generally, she got crazy and drowned.
And it was calculated, &c.

Now just two years after these 'ere events occurred,
A stranger came to the town where Emma Jane was buried,
He axed of the Sexting where Emma Jane might be,
And he answered by pinting towards the willer tree.
And he answered &c.

Now. they buried the body of the Captain close by her,
And over his tomb they set out a green brier,
So the willer tree a weepin’ is an emblem of she,
And the brier clingin’ round is an emblem of he.
And the brier clingin’ round &c.

Source: The Stonewall Song Book. Richmond: West & Johnson, 1865, pp 26-27

Sexting??? - sexton


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 03:17 PM

The Canadian Museum of History posted a recording of "H'emmer Jane" performed by Lloyd Soper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdfO5dREGSQ

Notes: The tune for “H’emmer Jane,” is derived from the 1850s music hall song “Villikens and His Dinah,” composed originally as a parody of a traditional ballad. In the ensuing years the melody was readily employed for a range of parodic commentaries. A distinguishing feature of “H’emmer Jane” is that it should be purposefully sung in a dramatic manner. Moreover, affected accents are integral to the performance. “H’emmer Jane” is significant historically because it was one of a group of songs that became part of a series of musical exchanges taking place between Newfoundland and Canada around the time of Confederation and during the growth of a newfound interest in the Canadian folksong (Rosenberg, 1994). Singer Ed McCurdy (1912-2000) performed “H’emmer Jane” on a special inaugural CBC program called Welcome to Newfoundland, which aired on April 1, 1949, the day after Newfoundland’s entry into Confederation. That version McCurdy had apparently collected in British Columbia (Guigné, 2004: 184). In 1959, the popular singer and broadcaster Omar Blondahl recorded the song for his album Songs of the Sea and Shore (1959) and he later included it in Newfoundlanders Sing (1964: 105).


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 05:49 PM

Joe Offer wrote: Thank you very much for finding that, mtaft. I like the humor in this version.

I have thanked him separately, but I'll add that, having the correct title lets us dig a little deeper. That version was printed 1865, but the fact that it's the eleventh edition of the Stonewall Song Book hints that it's older (even if, as was often true back then, "edition" really meant "printing").

That led me to an 1859 edition. You can't read either the words or the tune, really, but it's this song. Still no attribution listed, just an "arranger." But it pushes it back six more years -- and gives good reason to think it's older still, since we have two editions from different parts of the United States printed close together in time.

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/emma-jane-digital-sheet-music/20093751


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Subject: RE: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
From: meself
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 08:05 PM

Clyde Gilmour's rendition is great - as I recall; it's been decades since I've heard it. I might have it on cassette tape somewhere ....


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