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Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow

Suibhan 26 Sep 97 - 10:54 PM
Shula 30 Sep 97 - 06:48 AM
Peter T. 30 Sep 97 - 09:37 AM
Suibhan 30 Sep 97 - 11:56 AM
Jim Dixon 20 Oct 09 - 12:16 AM
GUEST,Jenny Brampton 20 Oct 09 - 03:53 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 20 Oct 09 - 07:49 AM
Jim Dixon 20 Oct 09 - 09:38 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Oct 09 - 01:15 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Oct 09 - 01:30 PM
Don Firth 20 Oct 09 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Oct 09 - 02:43 PM
Don Firth 20 Oct 09 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Oct 09 - 09:52 AM
Don Firth 21 Oct 09 - 01:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Oct 09 - 01:19 PM
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Subject: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Suibhan
Date: 26 Sep 97 - 10:54 PM

Shula, you are right, let's not wake the baby. Do you know of a recording of this song? I might need it in 6-8 months. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Shula
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 06:48 AM

Dear Suibhan,

Have the music in "A Reliquary of English Song." Happy to send a copy if you will send me a message with a snail-mail address. BTW, is Suibhan pronounced differently than Siobhan?

Dear Peter T.,

Posting here to let you have your pithy, if unattributed (Sir John Young, in his Epitaph) last pun in the GER thread. O Rah! 'Ray! yersel'!

Shula


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Subject: RE: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 09:37 AM

Dear Magnetic Lady, Thanks as ever, yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Suibhan
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 11:56 AM

Dear Shula,

That would be just wonderful. My address: Suibhan Cuneo,3602 Estates Lane, #214, Palos Verdes, CA 90274. Email is cuneo @pacbell.net. Be happy to reimburse you, of course.

Yes, Suibhan is just like Siobhan. My mother is from Inverness. My own husband cannot spell it, but then he saddled me with "Cuneo" for a surname, so it serves him right.

Regards, Suibhan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 12:16 AM

From The Works of Ben. Jonson, Vol. 6, (London: D. Midwinter et al., 1756), page 344:

A CELEBRATION OF CHARIS;
IN TEN LYRICK PIECES.
Ben Jonson

IV.—HER TRIUMPH.

See the chariot at hand here of love,
Wherein my lady rideth!
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,
And well the car love guideth.
As she goes, all hearts do duty
Unto her beauty,
And enamour'd, do wish so they might
But enjoy such a sight;
That they still were to run by her side.
Thro' swords, thro' seas, whither she would ride.

Do but look on her eyes, they do light
All that love's world compriseth!
Do but look on her hair, it is bright
As love's star when it riseth!
Do but mark, her forehead's smoother
Than words that sooth her!
And from her arched brows, such a grace
Sheds itself through the face,
As alone there triumphs to the life
All the gain, all the good of the elements strife.

Have you seen but a bright lily grow,
Before rude hands have touch'd it?
Ha' you mark'd but the fall o' the snow
Before the soil hath smutch'd it?
Have you felt the wool of the bever?
Or swan's down ever?
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the briar?
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
О so white! О so soft! O so sweet is she!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: GUEST,Jenny Brampton
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 03:53 AM

Can you explain how the word 'but' works in this song?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 07:49 AM

It is an Elizabethan usage, you could substitute "only" or "just" to get the modern meaning.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 09:38 AM

Not just Elizabethan, but dialectical. My father, born in rural Kentucky in 1899, would use "but" in this way: "I ain't got but one dollar" = "I have only one dollar". He was also in the habit of using double negatives; I can't imagine him using "but" in this sense without a negative such as "ain't".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:15 PM

That 'but' was and is widespread. My grandfather, born in Chicago but raised in Colorado, used it.

Dialect in Bahamas
"I ain't got but one leg" Bahamas, http://charlieshoemaker.blogspot.com

Song by Huey Lewis and the News, "Time ain't Money"- I ain't got but one dime.

Son House sang "Clarksdale Moan"-
Clarksdale's in the South and lays heavy on my mind
Clarksdale's in the South, lays heavy on my mind
I can have a good time there, if I ain't got but one lousy dime.
[Clarksdale, Mississippi]

And many more!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:30 PM

One more 'but', from Mark Twain:
I ain't got but one sock left..."
San Francisco "Alta California," June 23, 1867
http://www.twainquotes.com/18670623.html


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:35 PM

Richard Dyer-Bennet has recorded "Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow." I have it on RICHARD DYER-BENNET 5. 1958. Dyer-Bennet Records. DYB 5000. Album cover.

It should be available from Smithsonian-Folkways in either CD or cassette.

Dyer-Bennet's cultivated "minstrel tenor" is especially suited to this kind of song. On some of the "hairy-chested" American work songs like "Drill Ye Tarriers" or "John Henry," his light voice may sound a bit too formal and unconvincing, but on songs like "White Lily" or "The Joys of Love," he really shines!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 02:43 PM

It took some searching, but I found a page with two different MIDI's for this tune.

http://www.lute.ru/library_eng/library/?get=RJohnson/songs/have_you_seen_but_a_white_lily_grow/midi/


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 08:26 PM

I listened to the midi files that leeneia linked to, and noted that they were a quite a bit faster than the melody should go. Also, in the first phrase, the word "grow" is not on just one note, or an octave jump, as it sounds. It calls for a full octave scale on the word "grow." Not easy, but it's one of the salient parts of the song.

I combed through videos on YouTube for a good example of the song being sung. There are a lot of them there, mostly pretty badly sung or acoustically not good. Countertenor Alfred Deller is represented there, but his rendition is so idiosyncratic that I can't recommend it.

This young lady isn't yet up there with Anna Netrebko, Kiri Ti Kanawa, but she sings it about as well as anyone on YouTube, and better than most.

CLICKY.

By the way, speaking of Anna Netrebko, if you're one of those who think all operatic sopranos are built like whales, take a good long look at Anna.    Whooeey!!!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 09:52 AM

Thanks for the links, Don.

As for the run on 'grow,' I've encountered it both ways. I believe it's optional. If I were singing the song, I would want the first verse to stay simple so people can get the idea of what the song is all about.

I've finally figured out what the 'but' is about. It means 'a lily that's nothing but white.' Duh! Not that there is such a thing. A white lily will have orange or green inner parts.

There is a modern, simulated lily called Stella d'Oro which is recommended for people who want flowers but no bother. I commented to my sister once that it seemed fake.

She walked around old Denver, studying various flowers, and told me later that the problem with Stella d'Oro is that every single part of the flower is the same color. She's right.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 01:17 PM

Optional, perhaps. I've heard it sung by several people (professional singers in recital) and they always sing the run. Also, the copy of the music I have has the run in it.

As I say, it isn't easy to sing and do well. At least I haven't found it easy. I don't sing the song because, although I can do octave runs well in vocal practice, when I try to incorporated it into "White Lily," with my fairly ponderous bass-baritone voice, I sound like someone is trying to strangle a crow!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 01:19 PM

The lily need not be white. Those are Robert Jonson's words. Ben Jonson in 1640, originally wrote "Have you seen but a bright lily grow?" (see Jim Dixon, above).

Stella d'Oro is a golden, fragrant day lily (Hemerocallis) I have one. Definitely not white.
It is a real plant, not 'simulated'.


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