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Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun

DigiTrad:
DANCING AT WHITSUN
FORLORN LOVER
I AINSE LOVED A LASS
I COURTED A WEE GIRL
I LOVED A LAD
IT'S ONLY MY AULD SHEEN (FALSE BRIDE)
LAMBS ON THE GREEN HILLS
THE FALSE BRIDE
THREE WEEKS BEFORE EASTER
WEEK BEFORE EASTER 2


Related threads:
Lyr Req: 'How many ships sail in the forest?' (41)
Chord Req: Lambs in the Greenfield (Emmylou Harris (17)
Lyr & Tune add: The False Bride (Penguin) (8)
(origins) Origin: I Loved a Lad (7)


Joe Offer 10 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Chris Flint 10 Aug 00 - 05:54 PM
Joe Offer 10 Aug 00 - 06:13 PM
Stewie 10 Aug 00 - 09:26 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Aug 00 - 09:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Aug 00 - 10:00 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Aug 00 - 07:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Aug 00 - 09:13 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 00 - 09:39 PM
Barbara 12 Aug 00 - 12:07 AM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Aug 00 - 10:36 AM
zander (inactive) 12 Aug 00 - 03:11 PM
Joe Offer 12 Aug 00 - 03:41 PM
Susanne (skw) 12 Aug 00 - 04:53 PM
Joe Offer 12 Aug 00 - 05:09 PM
Barbara 12 Aug 00 - 05:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Aug 00 - 07:27 PM
Ferrara 13 Aug 00 - 12:37 AM
Noreen 14 Aug 00 - 10:59 PM
Joe Offer 26 Jan 06 - 05:23 PM
robinia 26 Jan 06 - 09:42 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Jan 06 - 10:33 PM
robinia 27 Jan 06 - 01:01 AM
Mr Happy 10 Jul 08 - 09:58 AM
Susan of DT 10 Jul 08 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Arkie 10 Jul 08 - 12:50 PM
Lord Batman's Kitchener 10 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM
Fidjit 10 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM
Lord Batman's Kitchener 10 Jul 08 - 03:06 PM
Folkiedave 10 Jul 08 - 08:04 PM
GUEST,Songbird 11 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM
gnomad 11 Jul 08 - 03:22 AM
Folkiedave 11 Jul 08 - 04:43 PM
Little Robyn 11 Jul 08 - 05:02 PM
Jim Dixon 15 Jul 08 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Michael Hurwicz 08 Apr 12 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,kendall 08 Apr 12 - 01:47 PM
Desert Dancer 08 Apr 12 - 02:36 PM
SINSULL 08 Apr 12 - 02:41 PM
Tootler 08 Apr 12 - 06:28 PM
Dave Hanson 09 Apr 12 - 03:47 AM
scouse 09 Apr 12 - 02:51 PM
Tootler 09 Apr 12 - 03:17 PM
Fidjit 09 Apr 12 - 05:18 PM
kendall 09 Apr 12 - 08:02 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Apr 12 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,henryp 10 Apr 12 - 01:35 PM
scouse 10 Apr 12 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Sleepyjon (lost my cookie) 01 Jun 12 - 12:12 PM
FreddyHeadey 05 Mar 18 - 05:57 AM
GUEST 06 Mar 18 - 08:51 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Mar 18 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 07 Mar 18 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Elizabeth Hovey - A Morris dancing "lady" 07 Jun 18 - 01:16 AM
Joe Offer 07 Jun 18 - 02:07 AM
Reinhard 08 Jun 18 - 12:25 AM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 18 - 01:15 AM
Keith A of Hertford 08 Jun 18 - 05:28 AM
FreddyHeadey 08 Jun 18 - 10:16 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: DANCING AT WHITSUN (John Austin Marshall)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM

The lyrics are in the database here (click), but somebody suggested that our transcription of the lyrics is not completely accurate. I've checked CD booklets from Bok-Muir-Trickett and Priscilla Herdman and listened to a Jean Redpath recording, and this is what I've come up with. I can't find a copyright date for the song - can anybody give us copyright information? Also, any additional information about the song or about John Austin Marshall would be helpful. The tune is indicated to be "The False Bride" - is it completely traditional?

DANCING AT WHITSUN
(words by Austin John Marshall)

It's fifty long springtimes since she was a bride,
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen with ribbons of green,
As green as her memories of loving.

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age will allow,
Through groves of white blossoms, by fields of young corn,
Where once she was pledged to her true love.

The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free--
No young men to turn them, our pastures go seed
They are gone where the forests of oak trees before
Have gone, to be wasted in battle.

Down from the green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons.
There's a fine roll of honor where the Maypole once stood,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

There's a straight row of houses in these latter days
All covering the downs where the sheep used to graze.
There's a field of red poppies, a wreath from the Queen
But the ladies remember at Whitsun,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

on Bok-Trickett-Muir "Harbors of Home." Also Jean Redpath's self-titled Philo album and Tim Hart and Maddy Prior on "Summer Solstice" and Priscilla Herdman on "Water Lily."

Copyright Austin John Marshall 1968
@war @dance
filename[ DNCWHIT
Tune file : FLSEBRD2

CLICK TO PLAY
D C
Bok-Trickett-Muir say "or pastures go see," and Herdman sings "our pastures go seed." Take your pick, at least until we find a version direct from Marshall. I think Herdman's version makes more sense.
The database says "(a gift from the Queen)" but Herdman, Redpath, and Bok-Trickett-Muir agree on "wreath."

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Chris Flint
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 05:54 PM

The song is in 'The Cruel Wars' by Karl Dallas and copyright is given as 1968 ( The book is published by Wolfe Publishing london)
Thanks, Chris - I added the date.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 06:13 PM

Here are the notes from the CD booklets:
  • Priscilla Herdman (The Water Lily)
    The tradition of Morris Dancing had been performed exclusively by men for several hundred years. During the First World War, when the male mortality rate in some English towns and villages approached seventy percent, this tradition would have been lost were it not for the women who chose to carry it on. John Austin Marshall has written this poignant song as a tribute to the widows, sweethearts, sisters, and daughters of those men, who kept this tradition alive.
  • Jean Redpath (self-titled):
    John Austin Marshall is responsible for this poignant text he set to a melody usually associated with the song The Week Before Easter. As I understand it, the song was his answer to the negative comments he heard aimed at the "little old ladies" who were performing traditional dances at Cecil Sharp House. Considering the toll taken by World War I (one village, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxon lost 80-90% of its male population), the role played by such women becomes something far removed from affectation.
  • Bok-Trickett-Muir (Harbors of Home):
    In many places where ritual spring dances were done, women were a part of them; though when you think of the Morris, you usually think of men dancing. I'm told there came a time when England's men were fighting on so many fronts around the world that women had to step in to help remember and fill out the teams, to keep the tradition alive (Gordon Bok).

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Stewie
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 09:26 PM

I first heard it as a solo from Tim Hart on Tim Hart and Maddy Prior 'Summer Solstice'. He sang 'or pastures go see' and 'a wreath from the queen'. He also sang 'age do allow' rather than 'age will allow'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 09:57 PM

Marshall wrote this song for Shirley Collins, and produced the album on which it was first recorded, Anthems in Eden (1969).  The text Joe gives above is very nearly right; except for:

Verse 1, line 1: "Fifty-onespringtimes"
Verse 2, line 2: "age do allow"
Verse 3, line 2: "or pastures go see"
Verse 4, line 3: "Maypole once was
Verse 5, line 1: "row of straight houses.

Shirley has to be credited with the definitive version; the person who wrote it recorded her singing it.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:00 PM

and I have to be credited with missing out a "B" at just the wrong place...
I added the missing "b," Malcolm. Thanks for your help.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 07:57 PM

This is Dallas' info:
[1973:] Austin John Marshall writes: "Many of the old ladies who swell the membership lists of Country Dance Societies are 1914/18 war widows, or ladies who have lost fiancés and lovers. Country dancing kept the memory of their young men alive. When Shirley Collins started singing the piece to the tune of The False Bride, the impact was disturbing, for many people in audiences identified with it. Tears were frequent. Now a sharp relevance in contemporary song is one thing but such a pessimistic effect was not what was intended. So when Shirley recorded the song we showed the way the spirit of the generation sacrificed in the mud of France had been caught and brought to life by the new generation born since World War II by concluding with the chorus of the Staines Morris:
    Come you young men come along
    With your music dance and song
    Bring your lasses in your hands
    For 'tis now that love commands
    Then to the maypole haste away
    For 'tis now a holiday." (Dallas, Wars 241)
Joe - do you have publication dates for the Herdman and Bok albums? - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 09:13 PM

I neglected to include the copyright information from Anthems in Eden: Whitsun Dance (the song's original title) "Trad arr S. & D. Collins, Lyrics by A.J. Marshall; MCPS/Soundpost Publ./Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Ltd., 1969."

Staines Morris is, of course, here:  Staines Morris

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 09:39 PM

Susanne - Bok-Trickett-Muir's Harbors of Home came out in September, 1998. Priscilla Herdman's The Water Lily was her first album, released in 1977 - Rounder reissued it in 1995. "Lily" is mostly the poetry of Australian Henry Lawson, set to music by Herdman and others. "Whitsun" and a couple others are thrown in as extra treats - but the whole album is a treat (but then I like all of her recordings).
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Barbara
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 12:07 AM

Joe, I'm sure Gordon has recorded that much earlier and solo. Do you have a discography for him, or shall I go look? I know he sang it alone because my spouse likes that version better.
blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 10:36 AM

The version in The Cruel Wars is the same version as the one of Anthems in Eden, as detailed by Malcolm Douglas, so I think it's pretty clearly the author's preference.

More to the point (since ssongs should always be alowed to change), at least in my ears, the original lines work better than the variants quoted. ("Go seed" might read more logically than "go see", but a line ending in "seed" followed by one starting with "the" doesn't run as well.)


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 03:11 PM

Of course at one time Austin John Marshall was married to Shirley Collins, what a superb singer of English folk songs was Shirley, along with her late sister Dolly, sadly missed on the British folk scene. Dave


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun - Bok?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 03:41 PM

A couple of years ago, there were hardly any Shirley Collins CD's available in the U.S. That has changed. Dick has a couple listed at CAMSCO, and I'm sure he'll soon have more. CDNOW has a number of CD's listed for Shirley Collins and for Shirley & Dolly Collins.
Yes, Barbara, I'd like you to find a Bok discography for us. I didn't find a discography at Gordon's Timberhead label, http://www.gordonbok.com, but maybe I wasn't looking in the right place. I checked Folk Music: An Index of Recorded Sources and found that Bok-Trickett-Muir recorded the song on their early Ways of Man album, but did not find a listing for a solo recording by Gordon. Seems to me I've heard a solo recording by Gordon - maybe it's the one on Ways of Man.
I'm used to calling the group Bok-Muir-Trickett, but lately it seems to be listed more often as Bok-Trickett-Muir. Did the pecking order change?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 04:53 PM

Thanks, Joe, for the info. BTW, do I get thrown out of Mudcat for admitting I've never liked Shirley Collins's voice and style of singing? - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 05:09 PM

Nope. I can take Shirley and long ballads only in small doses. You can sure learn a lot from her recordings, but It's kind of like doing homework or taking castor oil. Good for you, perhaps - but not absolute pleasure.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Barbara
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 05:35 PM

Hi, Joe, and no, I didn't find a single discography, but I used the search engine at Folk-Legacy and it gave me the info in several pieces.
Whitsun is on Ways of Man, tho it doesn't say if it is sung by all or just Gordon. I know I have heard it done just by him.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 07:27 PM

Small doses is the best for strong medicine. I can't imagine anyone singing The Whitsun Dances better than Shirley. And I can't think of a song that as economical and powerful. And I know I could never sing it without cracking up in the fourth verse.


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Ferrara
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 12:37 AM

In the For What It's Worth department, I've always sung the start of the second verse as:

The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free-- No young men to turn them, or pastures o'er see

where I took "o'er see" to mean "oversee" or "tend."

That is, the young men would trim hedges, plow or turn and plant the fields, but they would simply tend the pastures and watch the flocks or herds there.

Sounds as if this was not the original words but I still like it....

RF


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Subject: RE: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Noreen
Date: 14 Aug 00 - 10:59 PM

Thanks for this, Joe, I've only just got your message. I can't add anything further, as Malcolm (thank you) has posted the original, but I do think "......maypole once was..." sounds awkward and I'm used to hearing "..once stood....."

Lovely to hear more of the history of the song as it's always meant a lot to me, and I'm with McGrath in finding it very difficult to sing- has to be in the right company, who understand.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jan 06 - 05:23 PM

I'd like to learn this song, but the way I sing parts of the tune don't seem quite right to me. It's almost the same as Birmingham Sunday, and I think that's what's getting me confused. Are they supposed to be the same tune? I know both are based on I Once Loved a Lass, but are there differences in the tune for the three songs?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: robinia
Date: 26 Jan 06 - 09:42 PM

I just listened to a tape of "Wany of Man" and while Bok is the lead (and initially solo) singer, he'e definitely joined by Muir and then Tricket. It would be easy to remember the song as simply sung by him, though...   
Amd Joe, Dancing at Whitsun doesn't have the same melody as the much easier to remember I Once Loved a Lass. At least, I find the second tune easier to remember and I bet a lot of other people do too. That's the trouble! If you don't depart from the simpler melody on the third and fourth notes (I had to listen again to the tape to figure this out) you find yourself falling into the wrong song,   I don't know Birmingham Sunday (and am afraid to click on the link for fear of losing my iffy Mudcat connection), but if it's something in between, then no wonder people are confused!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 06 - 10:33 PM

The tune is that of another version, not the one that was used for 'Birmingham Sunday'. 'I Once Loved a Lass' (a Scottish form of the song) is given the same tune in the DT as 'Birmingham Sunday'; unfortunately no source is credited, so don't rely on it being accurate or even the right one.

Here's a provisional midi, made from memory (and so likely to contain mistakes, particularly in the phrasing) of Shirley's recording, which I only have on vinyl at the moment. It may do to start with, though. Corrections would be welcome.

http://folk-network.com/audio/whitsun.mid


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: robinia
Date: 27 Jan 06 - 01:01 AM

Shirley's rendition of Dancing at Whitsun? Fascinating (and quite different from the common form of I Once Loved a Lass). I love the way it morphs into the less ornamented Dancing at Whitsun (i.e., as Bok et al. sing the song). And are you saying that it's also a Scottish form of I Once Loved a Lass? Good melodies do travel . . .
Sorry about the typos in previous posting, but the mudcat connection this evening, at least for me, is very hit and miss, so I post and run. Are the rest of you having trouble too?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 09:58 AM

While at Cleckheaton FF this year, this fine song was requested & 쳌ethough not having sung it for over 20 years, I was able to perform & recall almost all the verses.

Afterwards the requestor commented that my rendition differed slightly from the version he쳌fd heard [Dubliners]

From reading through this thread, I find I쳌fm not alone in feeling that some쳌fve the lyrics don쳌ft make sense.

This is the version I do:

DANCING AT WHITSUN (John Austin Marshall)

It's fifty long springtimes since she was a bride,
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen with ribbons of green,
As green as her memories of loving.

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age will allow,
Through groves of white blossoms, by fields of young corn,
Where once she was pledged to her truelove.

The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free
No young men to tend them nor pastures to seed
They are gone like the forests of oak trees before
Have gone, to be wasted in battle.

Down from the green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons.
There's a fine roll of honour where the Maypole once stood,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

There's a straight row of houses in these latter days
All covering the downs where the sheep used to graze.
There's a wreath of red poppies a gift from the Queen
But the ladies remember at Whitsun,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Susan of DT
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 10:45 AM

There are two main tunes for the False Bride family of songs (DT #845). There is the I Aince Loved a Lass/Birmingham Sunday tune and the Week Before Easter/Dancing at Whitsun tune.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 12:50 PM

I heard this by Tim Hart and am glad to learn of the Bok version. Something else to look forward to. Have been really haunted by the song and am happy to have the words and more information. This is Mudcat at its best as far as I am concerned. Joe, thanks for starting this thread.

I found the song on emusic while searching for songs by Maddie Prior. A good example of treasures discovered quite by accident. Emusic now lists a version by Bram Taylor.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Lord Batman's Kitchener
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM

This a very lovely song, my neice and I perform it on a regular basis. It has very deep meaning though, if performed on Rememberance Day (11th November)I must admit not having dry eyes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Fidjit
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM

Been in my song bag since '68. Although not at the top for a while now.

Although I dusted it off last week to sing in the Church concert I did last week.
Chas


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Lord Batman's Kitchener
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 03:06 PM

We (my neice and I) perform it every Rememberance Day at our church, and as I said we perform it on a regular basis otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Jul 08 - 08:04 PM

And will be played tomorrow on my programme. As part of an interview with MArtyn Wyndham-Read and "Maypoles to Mistletoe".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Songbird
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM

Please, what programme is this? Where? when etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: gnomad
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 03:22 AM

Songbird, I can't be sure, but I suspect that this thread is the answer to your query. I hope it helps.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Folkiedave
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 04:43 PM

Hi Gnomad - that's it - comes towards the end of the first half - sung by Martyn Wyndham-Read. It is also on Crucible's latest CD "Love and Money".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Little Robyn
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 05:02 PM

Shirley's tune is The week before Easter. I've been searching the DT for the Copper family words but I can't believe they're not there.
Find them here on the Copper family
site. That's the way we always used to sing it.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 06:59 AM

Google Book Search indicates that the lyrics to DANCING AT WHITSUN are given in The Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse by Frederick Woods, 1983.

Only "snippets" are viewable, but it's enough to see that (1) the author's name is Austin John Marshall (NOT John Austin..., as frequently listed in this thread), and (2) the song begins "It's fifty-one springtimes since she was a bride".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Michael Hurwicz
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 10:31 AM

There is a version here, which (based on the notes following it) I think may be from the author himself:

http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/fast_folk/FFSE105.pdf

That version is an image of a newsletter, but there is a typed out version of the same here:

http://www.marcogiunco.com/Testi/002511_05.htm

This version has:

"No young men to tend them, nor pastures to see"

Two other small differences:

"Are covering the downs" instead of "All covering the downs"

"Down from their green farmlands" instead of "Down from the green farmlands"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 01:47 PM

Poignant and beautiful song. I once got into it with Louie Killen( A friendly discussion)about the meaning of ..gone where the forests of Oak trees once stood, gone to be wasted in battle.. he was adamant that the forests of Oak trees were victims of the industrial revolution.
We never did agree.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 02:36 PM

Since I'm having trouble getting a whole out of the bits and pieces here, here's the lyric and notes that Michael Hurwicz points to:

THE WHITSUN DANCE (DANCING AT WHITSUN)

Lyric by Austin John Marshall
Melody: The False Bride (Trad.) / Staines Morris (Trad.)

It's fifty-one springtimes since she was a bride
And still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen and ribbons of green
As green as her memories of loving

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now
As gentle a measure as age do allow
Through groves of white blossom, by fields of young corn
Where once she was pledged to her true love

The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free
No young men to tend them, nor pastures to see
They have gone where the forests of oaktrees before
Had gone to be wasted in battle

Down from their green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and songs
There's a fine roll of honor where the Maypole once was
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun

There's a row of straight houses in these latter days
Are covering the Downs where the sheep used to graze
There's a field of red poppies and wreath from the Queen
But the ladies remember at Whitsun
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun

(Come you young men come along
With your music, dance and son
Bring your lasses in your hand
For 'tis that which love commands
Then to the Maypole haste away
For 'tis now a holiday)

© 1982 Austin John Marshall

The Whitsun Dance: Notes

Whitsun: A traditional British spring holiday, on or near Pentacost, but deriving its name from the white outfits of Morris dancers, for this was the official start of the Morris Dancing season - usually about the third week in May.

The First World War had a devastating effect on the village tradition of Morris Dancing, and what had once been an extremely vigorous, bucolic and rich part of country life became widely regarded as a quaint and rather ludicrous relic. The Maypole, centre of village springtime celebrations, was replaced by a war memorial, containing in many cases the names of most of the young men of the village.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society is an institution in London alternately loved and derided. I often used to wonder why there always seemed to be so many middle-aged and elderly ladies there, joining in the country dancing. I was told that there was an unofficial "club" of First World War widows, who danced in memory of their lost loves, Morris Dancers. The song was written in early '67. The date of composition takes "fifty-one springtimes" (not fifty "long") back to 1916.

The song first appeared on an album called "Autumns in Eden" by Shirley and Dolly Collins, issued in '69. The track was axed by the U.S. publishers, arbitrarily removing the climax of a suite of traditional songs intending to tell the story of the broken tradition of England. Tim Hart of Steeleye Span made a version of the song on "Summer Solstice." Priscilla Herdman, Jean Redpath and Gordon Bok have all recorded the song over here in the U.S., but all learned from the Hart version. I am grateful to the Folk Co-op for letting me have the chance to put on record the complete version, with the hopeful segue into the "Staines Morris" ending, pointing to the resurrection of that lost spirit of England.

[Note: There are a couple peculiar errors in these notes that I take to be problems of whoever typed up the newsletter in reading Marshall's handwriting. I have made these fixes: changed Shirley "A." Dolly Collins to "and"; Tim "Harb" to "Hart".]

These are from the record notes published in The CooP, The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, June 1982 vol. 1, #5 (now available from Smithsonian Folkways, where you can you can download the song sung by author John Marshall for $0.99). (More on Fast Folk.)

Elsewhere in the notes:

AUSTIN JOHN MARSHALL: As "John the Angel Fish," John Marshall has been reading poetry at the Folk Co-op since February of this year. Before that in the U.K. he had been a writer and producer of albums, notably for his first wife, Shirley Collins, and Steve Ashley. In addition, he as produced films of both Jimi Hendrix and The Incredible String Band.

Since coming to the States in early '81, he has mounted a radio production of his ballad-play "The Great Smudge: A Romance for Street-Organ" for WBAI, and started a religious satire series "Heaven's Kitchen."

This is his debut as a singer, and whilst he has no immediate plans to further a career in this field, remains open to offers.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: SINSULL
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 02:41 PM

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age will allow,

Every day I carefully urge my aching knees down the stairs to my cubicle at work and think these lines.
Age is not for the faint of heart.
SINS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 06:28 PM

OT for a moment.

Kendall,

The two things that mostly felled the forests of Southern England were iron smelting (which strictly speaking was pre-industrial revolution) and shipbuilding. The heritage centre at Buckler's Hard on the west side of Southampton Water has some data on the number of trees that were felled to build ships for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. I can't remember the figures but it was many thousands. The development of coke fired blast furnaces for iron smelting was driven, at least in part, by the growing shortage of timber for making charcoal.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 03:47 AM

Desert Dancer, the Shirley and Dolly Collins album is ' Anthems in Eden ' not autumns.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: scouse
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:51 PM

Poignant and beautiful song. I once got into it with Louie Killen( A friendly discussion)about the meaning of ..gone where the forests of Oak trees once stood, gone to be wasted in battle.. he was adamant that the forests of Oak trees were victims of the industrial revolution.

Not so I think....
The oak trees where more than likely the ones from the New Forest that where used to build the ships from Henry V111 onwards. There's not many left of the originals.
The village of Buckler's Hart in the forest built many ships.

As Aye,

Phil.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 03:17 PM

Scouse,

Did you read my post?

The Weald of Sussex was once an important iron making region. The industry eventually declined, at least in part, because most of the trees had been cut down to make charcoal.

The first world war also required large quantities of wood and it is possible the oaks referred to in the song were actually cut down during WWI.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Fidjit
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 05:18 PM

Joe.

The folk process willout.

We've all heard this so many times. And yet many still think it is traditional.

I first heard it, and have it by Tim Hart (and Maddy Prior) Summer Solstice.

Neve knew who actually wrote it. Good to know. Thanks.

Shall enlighten all next time I sing it.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: kendall
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 08:02 PM

I knew I was right.
The natural resources were the reason England fought so hard to keep the colonies.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 12:42 PM

Dave Hanson, correction noted -- but "Autumns" instead of "Anthems" is John Marshall's error, not mine. :-)

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 01:35 PM

Now we're in the mood for corrections, Pentecost is the same event as Whitsun. It's the Sunday 50 days after Easter Day.

Whitsun was followed by a Bank Holiday Monday in England. Its date was linked to Easter, but it has now been replaced with the Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May.

This year, 2012, the Bank Holiday will be on the first Monday in June, and will be followed by another holiday on the Tuesday to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Each Bank Holiday is said to cost the UK economy £2.3 billion. I suppose that is what makes them so enjoyable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: scouse
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 05:15 PM

GUEST,henryp...Thank the good lord I live in "Cloggieland." now!!! They don't have to many over here. Mind you the economy is still shite here!

As Aye,

Phil.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Sleepyjon (lost my cookie)
Date: 01 Jun 12 - 12:12 PM

. . and Whitsun ("White Sunday") is so called because either (sources vary) it was the last day that the newly baptised of Easter wore their white robes of baptism to mark the end of the Easter season, or because they dragged them out again for that same reason, - not therefore because the Morris dancers were wearing white for the first time in the year (although I suppose nothing says that either tradition predates the other - or that they both don't derive from something earlier still.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 05 Mar 18 - 05:57 AM

: Desert Dancer -
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 02:36 PM 
mentioned the Smithsonian link to a recording of Austin John Marshall singing.

It's also on Spotify
https://open.spotify.com/track/7bfDOdzxRV1HK2EeJSkewQ

[btw I'm hearing as 08 Apr 12 - 02:36
but

fathers and sons

to tend them,  nor pastures go seed

poppies and a wreath

music, dance and song ]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Mar 18 - 08:51 PM

There is a dis-connect that bothers me. In the second verse she is walking "by fields of young corn" but in the the third verse we are told "the fields they stand empty."

So if I am performing the song for an audience more than my self, I'll preceed the third verse in a speaking voice with the intro, "But for years and years...." Seems to tie the sentiment and what the song is trying to convey better, at least to me. It is one of those songs that merits an explanation before you sing it. Gopherit


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Mar 18 - 09:45 PM

"Anthems" is one of my eight desert island discs. In my view, the very best compilation of Shirley's songs is on a record called Fountain Of Snow (the title coming from the words of the song Polly Vaughan), released in 1992. Indispensable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 07 Mar 18 - 06:10 AM

I've always sung it as "pastures to seed"

I'm sure that in the depths of time, I sat writing it down from a tape of Shirley Collins singing it...


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Subject: Dancing at Whitsun
From: GUEST,Elizabeth Hovey - A Morris dancing "lady"
Date: 07 Jun 18 - 01:16 AM

I'm grateful to all who have described their relationship to this song and the versions of lyrics.

My Morris team, all women, and in fact the oldest ongoing women's Morris team in North America, has been asked to come to a English-Style Garden's revisiting of a 1918 celebration there of the end of the Great War. (In Old Westbury, Long Island, NY on 6/23). It certainly seems no other song compares with it for fitting this occasion. And we will need a break between dances.

I only heard of Dancing at Whitsun for the first time a couple of weeks back. (It was on our american Memorial Day, which coincides with the fixed holiday that once was Whitsun.)   A more startling coincidence is that our team dances primarily in the style of Ascott-Under-Wychwood, the very town that Jean Redpath identified as losing 80-90% of its male population in the war.

Although I have song in several choirs, and led a song as many as 5 times, I have never, ever had a solo, and it is looking like this performance must be one. I will be grateful for any well-wishes.

If you know someone who would be interested in this weekend honoring the end of WW1 in the greater NYC area, please pass along the details. We'll be dancing our hearts out.

https://www.oldwestburygardens.org/se_gymkhana_062318.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jun 18 - 02:07 AM

Well, since the song was written for Shirley Collins, I guess one could consider the Shirley Collins version to be definitive - but I think I like several word choices in later versions more - even Shirley Collins made changes in later performances.

Here's the recording from the Shirley Collins box set Within Sound (2002):

And here's my transcription of this recording:

WHITSUN DANCE
(words by Austin John Marshall, as recorded by Shirley Collins)

It's fifty-one springtimes since she was a bride,
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen and ribbons of green,
As green as her memories of loving.

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age do allow,
Through groves of white blossom(?), by fields of young corn,
Where once she was pledged to her true love.

The fields they are empty, the hedges grow free--
No young men to tend them, or pastures go see
They've gone where the forest of oak trees before(?)
Has(?) gone to be wasted in battle.

Down from their green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and fathers and brothers and sons.
There's a fine roll of honor where the Maypole once was,
And the ladies are dancing at Whitsun.

There's a row of straight houses in these latter days
All covering the downs where the sheep used to graze.
There's a field of red roses (??), a wreath from the Queen
But the ladies remember at Whitsun,
And the ladies are(?) dancing at Whitsun.


Some of these words are hard to understand, but I did the best I could and put question marks where I had trouble. The "red roses" surprised me, but that's what I hear.

Reinhard's Mainly Norfolk says this was a previously unreleased 1968 demo, so maybe it was polished up a bit in later recordings.


There's another Shirley Collins recording of the song here:The lyrics in this version have poppies and several other differences from the demo recording.


Please note the post above (click) from Desert Dancer for a 1982 version of the lyrics from the songwriter himself, Austin John Marshall.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Reinhard
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 12:25 AM

Joe, I hear "poppies", not "roses" in this recording. and "Had gone to be wasted". The rest of question-marked words are correct. I also would write "honour" - it's a very English song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 01:15 AM

Yes, and now that I listen to the 1968 recording another day, I can hear "poppies."
Still, I'd say the songwriter's version is most reliable.
Thanks, Reinhard.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 05:28 AM

You do know that poppies are the symbol of remembrance here, and everyone in public life wears one in the run up to Remembrance Day (nearest Sunday to Nov 11) ?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dancing at Whitsun
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 10:16 AM

btw ... Lovely version here by
Rosie Hodgson & Rowan Piggott

https://rosiehodgson.bandcamp.com/track/dancing-at-whitsun


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