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Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf / Life of a Man

DigiTrad:
WHAT'S THE LIFE OF A MAN


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Lyr Req: What's the Life of a Man (15)


IanC 31 Aug 01 - 08:54 AM
IanC 03 Sep 01 - 04:50 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Sep 01 - 10:38 AM
IanC 03 Sep 01 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Boab 04 Sep 01 - 01:57 AM
GUEST,Forsh 07 Jul 04 - 05:58 AM
IanC 07 Jul 04 - 06:53 AM
Joe Offer 24 May 20 - 03:02 AM
r.padgett 25 May 20 - 02:59 AM
r.padgett 25 May 20 - 03:09 AM
Joe Offer 22 Jun 22 - 11:26 PM
EBarnacle 23 Jun 22 - 07:41 AM
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Subject: ZDTStudy: The Fall of The Leaf
From: IanC
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 08:54 AM

While I was looking for something else, I accidentally stumbled on this version of The Fall of The Leaf (aka Life of A Man) in the Bodleian collection. There didn't seem to be a previous thread discussing this song, so I've started this one.

THE FALL OF THE LEAF

    As I was a walking one morning in the breeze,
    I observed the leaves as they fell from the trees;
    They were nip'd by the frost, and withered withall,
    As the cold came upon them, it caused them to fall.

    By further observation at last I did perceive,
    That man he has his seasons as well as the trees;
    For a while in this world he may appear both fresh and gay,
    But like the leaf he will wither and at last fall away.

    Those leaves in some places lay thick on the ground,
    Yet while looking on the trees there's more to be found;
    And all in a motion they seem for to be,
    While those that are withered are still falling from the tree.

    To look at those leaves but a little while ago,
    How beautiful and green on the trees they did grow,
    But now their short season, it's come on a pace,
    They are falling from the trees every day more or less.

    To view the Church Yard what dead bodies may be seen,
    That have fallen from the world like the leaves from the trees,
    And now with old age and infirmities withall,
    Like the leaves they are withering continually to fall.

    Now the season is over and the leaves are all gone,
    Back again to trees never more to return;
    But it is not so with man for the Scriptures tell us plain,
    Out of the bed of dust we must all rise again.

    The scriptures plainly tell us of something more beside,
    We must stand in judgement there to be tried,
    Before our Blessed Saviour both rich and poor must stand,
    And happy will they be who go to his right hand.

The entry says Harkness J., Printer, 121, Church Street, Preston. (between 1840 and 1866) though I'd think that the song may well be a good deal earlier than this, both because of some of the words used and because it has the "feel" of one of the puritan songs like "The Truth From Above".

The text is often said to come from The Epistle of James, but this is not quite accurate as the verse in James is itself a quotation from a verse in Isaiah 40.

BTW, the song doesn't seem to appear in the Traditional Ballad Index, though there is some information about it here and, of course, it's in the DT. There's also some information in this article on George Townshend, which gives it as Roud 848 (Roud apparently has 26 versions, though non from broadsides(!)). The folk music index has one version listed, by Joe Hickerson.

I'm particularly interested in this one, as I've been singing a version similar to the one in DT almost since I can remember.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: IanC
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 04:50 AM

How silly of me.

I went away, Friday really pleased with myself having accidentally stumbled on a broadside which takes "Life of a Man" 60 or 70 years back and gives some possibilities for tracing it still further.

I came back expecting someone might have come up with something more, like some suggestions for where I might look for Puritan songs etc. Not one response. I suppose I should have asked! Perhaps you were all too busy in the "I'nt Morris dancin stupid" thread.

Anybody got any ideas?

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 10:38 AM

The Bodleian Library Broadside Collection  also has a number of (probably) slightly earlier copies:

Fall of leaves  Printed between 1796 and 1853 by J. Swindells of Manchester (2 copies showing significant textual variation from the above).
The fall of the leaf  Printed between 1797 and 1834 by G. Walker of Durham (5 copies, pretty much the same as the Harkness issues).

The Fall of the Leaf (printed by J. Hirst of Oldham in 1843) is an unrelated piece written by Thomas Rhodes.

Alfred Williams had a set from Thomas Dunn of Stratton St. Margaret, c.1914-16 (Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, 1923) and commented, The piece is old, and was a favourite throughout the Thames Valley.  Vaughan Williams got one in 1904 from J.W. Wright of Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire (Roy Palmer, English Country Songs, 1979; Palmer comments, The song appeared on broadsides in the nineteenth century under the title of The Fall of the Leaf, though it was considerably improved by the refining and polishing action of oral circulation)  Bob Copper gives a set from Rottingdean in Early To Rise (1976); I don't have time just now to see if he refers to the song in the narrative.  That's all I can add at the moment, beyond noting that such internet references as exist are mostly to unattributed texts or to recordings by revival performers.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: IanC
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 10:47 AM

Thanks, Malcolm

I've so far got nowhere with collections of puritan songs. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where any of these may appear?

BTW "The Fall of The Leaf" (poem) by Robert Burns is also unrelated.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 01:57 AM

For more years than I care to admit, I have sung a shorter version of this song , which I always knew as "Life of a Man". The chorus goes-- "What's the life of a man any more than a leaf? A man has his season, so why should he grieve? All thro' this life we appear fine and gay' Then like leaves we will wither, and soon fade away" Verse- "Had you seen the leaves but a few days ago----etc." Certainly not a little-known version; singing it on-stage some years back, found the [offstage] Macalmans joining me in the chorus.


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Subject: Folklore: life of a man?
From: GUEST,Forsh
Date: 07 Jul 04 - 05:58 AM

Anyone tell me the 'Folklore' behind this song, please? (what's the life of a man anymore than a leaf) Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: life of a man?
From: IanC
Date: 07 Jul 04 - 06:53 AM

Forsh

Try this thread for some information.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 May 20 - 03:02 AM

Needs more work - sung by Bev Praver


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: r.padgett
Date: 25 May 20 - 02:59 AM

Can now be found in the New Penguin Book of English folk songs 2012 Roud 848 MTCD 304
Points to collected in Canada not so much in England ~ surviving prints from 1810 {broadsides)

Fall of the leaf

I sing this mainly at funerals of folky friends

and like me odd extra verses made up

Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: r.padgett
Date: 25 May 20 - 03:09 AM

(What's) The Life of a Man? / The Fall of the Leaf
[ Roud 848 ; Ballad Index K264 ; Bodleian Roud 848 ; Wiltshire 1008 , 1092 ; trad.]
Harry Holman sang The Life of a Man on 16 December 1959 at The Cherry Tree in Copthorne

above from Mainly Norfolk website ~ where there are extensive notes

Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jun 22 - 11:26 PM

joe- do cleanup


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Fall of The Leaf / Life of a Man
From: EBarnacle
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 07:41 AM

Bernie Klay used to do this one regularly at X-Seaman's concerts on the pier at South Street, New York.


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