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Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..

carol cook 10 Feb 05 - 09:49 PM
Peace 10 Feb 05 - 10:53 PM
Jim Dixon 11 Feb 05 - 09:43 AM
Tradsinger 11 Feb 05 - 01:36 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Feb 05 - 09:58 PM
Barbara 12 Feb 05 - 10:21 PM
Jim Dixon 14 Feb 05 - 09:03 AM
carol cook 16 Feb 05 - 01:14 PM
Tradsinger 16 Feb 05 - 01:54 PM
Dave Sutherland 16 Feb 05 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,My grandma's version 20 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 11 Nov 10 - 10:52 PM
Effsee 11 Nov 10 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,jptatacp 29 Nov 10 - 10:17 AM
GUEST 13 Dec 10 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,Ebor.Fiddler 13 Dec 10 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Ebor.Fiddler 13 Dec 10 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,Cathy 28 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM
GUEST 27 Oct 11 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Jill Pic 08 Dec 11 - 11:27 PM
GUEST 27 Jan 14 - 01:29 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jan 14 - 01:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jan 14 - 02:17 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jan 14 - 03:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jan 14 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,delina chamberlain 17 Sep 14 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,Janet 29 Nov 14 - 01:24 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Nov 14 - 04:21 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: carol cook
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 09:49 PM

My grandmother use to sing a song for me and I can only remember parts of it. some of it was talk.
A little girl said something or saw something and the parson asked her to come tell it in church. She said she couldn’t, as she had no nice dress, so he gave her one. When she appeared in church she sang:
    As I was walking down the street Parson Brown I happened to meet.
    Him and Molly were making hay (or pitching woo)
    and he kissed Miss Molly.
    Then the parson shouted "Not a word of it true."
    The little girl skipped down the aisle singing (not quite right on all the words)
    the last was how I cheated old Parson Brown out of a dress and half a crown
    telling the people all around how he kissed Miss Molly.
I would love to pass this on to my grandkids.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Peace
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 10:53 PM

Can't find anything with Google.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Feb 05 - 09:43 AM

Go to Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads and search for "Parson Brown" and you will find some interesting songs that resemble the one you ask for. I don't have time to transcribe them now but I might later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Tradsinger
Date: 11 Feb 05 - 01:36 PM

There are 25 versions listed in Roud (If you're not sure what Roud is, ask. It's an important folksong database). Not many of them have made it onto commercially available recordings, but I suspect it was more common than people think. George Fradley sang a version which is on a Veteran tape. I recorded Bob Arnold of Oxfordshire singing it many years ago. I have also heard nice Devon versions which go into sort of cante-fable, i.e. speak a bit of the story and sing some. The tune I have usually heard for it is the Rakes of Mallow.

All the listed versions are English or Scottish - not a song that appears to have made it across the 'pond', or even into Ireland. Perhaps, Carol Cook, you could tell us where you are from.

Gwilym


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Subject: Lyr Add: PARSON BROWN'S SHEEP
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Feb 05 - 09:58 PM

From Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, Harding B 11(2953).

PARSON BROWN'S SHEEP
William Pratt, Printer, 82, Digbeth, Birmingham [c. 1850]

Not long ago in our town,
A little place of great renown,
There lived a man named Mr. Brown,
    And he was our parson.
Father he was very poor,
Christmas it was very near;
We'd neither mutton, beef nor beer
    For our Christmas dinner.

SPOKEN: They were very hard times for poor folks! Faider had lost his work cause he was getting old and couldn't do much; so I went to Parson Brown's and asked him for some broken wittles; but he wouldn't gi' me ony, but sot the dog at me, and sent me beeak broken hearted. When I came beeak, who should there be [but] faider wi' one o' Parson Brown's fat wether sheep. There, said the old man, that's the first time I ever robbed in my life; but they won't let me work, and I can't starve. Egad! I was nation pleased to see the old sheep; I ran and kissed mother, father, and the old sheep and all, and ran up and down, singing—

CHORUS: Faider stole the parson's sheep
And we shall have both pudding and meat,
And a merry Christmas we shall keep,
    But I mayn't say aught about it.

I sung up and down the street all day.
Parson heard what I did say,
And asked me in a civil way,
    If I'd sing it o'er again, sir.
Says he, I'll gi' thee half-a-crown,
A suit of clothes and money down,
If to church you'll go alone,
    And sing it to the people.

SPOKEN: Egad! Then, I said, I will. He gave me a bran new suit of clothes and half-a-crown. I ran home and told mother what parson had given me to go to church and sing—

Faider stole the parson's sheep, &c.

My mother thought as I was mad.
Says she, what ever ails the lad?
You know they'll surely hang your dad,
    If you say aught about it.
Says I, then, mother, I'll tell thee
What I will do as sure as can be;
I'll [tell] the folks what I did see
    The parson doing to Molly.

SPOKEN: I said, I'm dang'd if I doan't, mother. Well she said, Do lad, but don't thee say a word about the old sheep; if thee do, they'll hang thee and thy faider too. No, I said, I woan't then. So off I went, in all my bran new clothes. I'm sure I never looked so fine in all my life afore. I was as pleased as a cat with a pepper-box. I goes clink-o-me-clink, clink-o-me-clink, right up to the parson. He began to tell the folk what I had come for. Now, he says, I hope you'll hearken attentively to what this lad be about to sing; for it is a most notorious and outrageous crime as ever was committed, and ought to be severely punished, and every word he says is as true as the gospel I am now preaching. Then he swelled himself up like a turkey-cock, blew his nose, and told me to begin. Then I began singing—

As I was in the field one day,
I saw our parson very gay,
Romping Molly on the hay,
    And turn her upside down, sir.
And for fear it shouldn't be known,
A suit of clothes and half-a-crown,
Were all given me by Mr. Brown,
    For I to come and tell about it.

SPOKEN: He! He! He! I thought parson would have gone ramping mad. He stamped and swore it was the biggest lie that ever was told; but the folks wouldn't believe him. They all run out of church and cried shame of parson. He sent a big book at me, but it hit an old lady on the head. Down she went and parson plump on top of her. I ran off, singing—

CHORUS: I have done old Parson Brown
Of a suit of clothes and half-a-crown,
For telling all the folk around
    What he had done to Molly.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Barbara
Date: 12 Feb 05 - 10:21 PM

Michael Cooney has a recording of this on his "Singer of Old Songs" album. Essentially what is posted above, but I'm not sure about the sheep. Seems right, though.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: Lyr Add: ANSWER TO PARSON BROWN'S SHEEP
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Feb 05 - 09:03 AM

From Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, Harding B 11(82):

ENCORE VERSES, OR THE ANSWER TO PARSON BROWN'S SHEEP.
J. Harkness, Printer, 121 & 122 Church Street, Office, North Road, Preston. [Between 1840 and 1866.]

My thanks accept, kind friends,
And if you will attention lend,
I'll tell you how the joke did end,
    About the parson's sheep, sir.
Wi' lightsome heart my way I bent,
On merry-making fully bent,
When Parson Brown his servant sent
    To say with me he'd speak, sir.

SPOKEN: Poor mother! I think I see her now: La' bless ye, she turned as pale as a turnip! Feyther he shook like an absent leaf, and said—Ah, lad, I am afeard thee's done a bad job for all of us. I laughed though my heart was in my stockings. Never fear, says I. So I shook hands wi' feyther and mother, who said, Be careful, and keep out of the way of the wolf in sheep's clothing.—Yes, mother. So off I went, singing—

I need not care what parson say,
For well he knows the other day
I found him romping on the hay
    With the pretty milkmaid Molly.
To parson's house I went straightway
To ask him what he'd got to say,
Though I wish'd myself ten miles away
    From Parson Brown and Molly.
Oh, crikey! How he smiled at me,
And said a gemman I should be
If to his plans I would agree;
    To refuse would be a folly.

SPOKEN: Egad! I looked at him wi' all the eyes I'd got. I took off my hat and twindled it between my thumbs. I scratch'd my head and knock'd my knees, partly in fear, partly in joy. Parson bid me sit down, and list to what he was about to say.

Young man, said he, to end all strife,
Thee'd better take thyself a wife
To be the comfort of thy life,
    And a pretty lass I'll give to thee.
Now as you said what you have said,
And a great secret have betrayed,
A handsome sum I'll give the maid,
    And your weddin feast, believe me.

SPOKEN: Well, egad! I looked at parson not knowing what he meant. He smiled, and said it wur as true as the gospel he preaches, he would marry I for nothing, and give Molly three hundred golden sovreigns, and a bran new suit of wedding clothes, if I would only make an honest woman of her—and as how he would put I into a great farm and stand godfeyther to our first. Gadzooks! I thought I wur going to be king, and as I always liked Molly, I begun singing—

O was it not a lucky day
When I saw Parson Brown so gay
A romping Molly on the hay,
    To turn her upside downs, sir!
Wi' lightsome heart I went to find
The girl best suited to my mind
That Parson Brown our hands might join
    In wedlock's silken fetters.
Content surrounds our woodbine cot.
The parson's jokes are quite forgot,
And how much happier our lot
    Than many of our betters!

SPOKEN: Blest with a lovely sweet tempered wife, two smiling babes and in the possession of every blessing, there is nothing wanting to complete my happiness but the applause of my kind friends and patrons, whose generous support it shall ever be my ambition to merit and obtain.

So was it not a lucky day,
When I saw Parson Brown so gay
A romping Molly on the hay,
    And turn her upside down, sir!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: carol cook
Date: 16 Feb 05 - 01:14 PM

thanks to all, i am not very good on this puter so I could not do the
Go to Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads I did not know how to fill out all those questions.
Jim Dixon that one was pretty close guess I will have to make one out of it. made me remember some of the words--I remember the tune. she use to sing me all those old ones and the tear jerker LOL

Gwilym , well I have lived all over. Okla. and Tex. mostly
seems a lot of my ancestors were in MO as that is where my grandfather was from. moms maiden name was vermilion, Dad was from ILL. I think never knew him. and yes could you please tell me what a ROUD IS??


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Tradsinger
Date: 16 Feb 05 - 01:54 PM

In reply to Carol Cook:

It's very interesting that your grandfather sang this song, as that would make it the only instance of the song being noted in tradition in the States. See how much you can remember and commit it to tape.

I am trying to tell everyone about the Roud index. Steve Roud is an English folklorist who has put together a marvellous working aid of English-language folksongs, using MSAccess. He has noted every instance he can find of songs being collected, with the name and location of the performer, the date, the collector and so on. More importantly, he has given each song a Roud Number, so that all the versions of, say, Frankie and Johnnie have the same number. Now Child only noted about 300+ different songs whereas Roud has noted over 10,000. It's a great working aid and enables me to make statements like "All the listed versions are Scottish or English". The Index is not readily available, but if you PM me, I can put you in touch with Steve. He charges £25 for the index, with free updates. I don't know what he would charge in USD. I consider it hugely important, and predict that it will feed a lot of folksong scholarship.

PM me if you want to know more.

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 16 Feb 05 - 03:10 PM

Although the song is/was a great favourite in the North East it does not eminate from those parts. However I have only heard it sung by three people and they have all been Geordies - Benny Graham, Jim Irvine and Bob Davenport. It is known as a sort of Christmas song as the chorus - the actual song is almost entirely spoken - goes:-
"A Merry Christmas we shall keep,
For my father's stolen the Parson's sheep,
Lots of meat and a swig of beer,
But I'll say nowt about it"


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Subject: Lyr Add: PARSON BROWN'S SHEEP (trad. Ontario)
From: GUEST,My grandma's version
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM

When we were kids, my grandma (from southwestern Ontario) used to sing this song to us. My mother recently transcribed it from memory and here's her version:


GRANDMA'S SONG (Parts between asterisks are sung.)

***Christmas Day was drawing near.
We were very, very poor.
We had neither pudding nor beer
For our Christmas dinner.***

I asked Father what we'd have. He said, 'Nothing I guess'. But when I came home the next day, I found Father had stolen the parson's black sheep. I said I'd tell. He said he'd whip me if I did. Nevertheless I went down the street singing:

***'Father's stolen the parson's black sheep.
A merry Christmas we will keep.
We will have both pudding and beer
For our Christmas dinner.***

Just then who should I meet but Parson Brown. 'Little boy' he said, 'If I give you a suit of clothes and half a crown, will you sing that in church on Sunday morning?' I said I would.

So on Sunday morning the parson said, 'Please listen carefully to every word this little boy sings, for it is the gospel truth.' So I sang:

***Parson Brown was out one day
Early in the month of May.
Molly Green was making hay,
And he stepped up and kissed her.***

He shook me and said, 'Little boy, that is a wicked, wicked lie.' Nevertheless, I went on singing:

***'How I've cheated Parson Brown
A suit of clothes and half a crown
Telling the people all around
How he kissed Miss Molly.'***


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 10:52 PM

My dad had a friend who worked at the CBC in Grand Falls NFLD. He made dad a casette of christmas music. This song was on it. That would have been mid-70's. I recall the boy (man) and the parson were two different voices. Been looking for it as an MP3 for years.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: how I cheated old parson brown out of a
From: Effsee
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 11:21 PM

The same story recorded by The Gaugers...The Minister's Sheep...from their Album..."http://www.musicscotland.com/cd/gaugers-beware-aberdonian-musicscotland.html


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,jptatacp
Date: 29 Nov 10 - 10:17 AM

I remember a song very similar to this. It was by the New Christy Minstrels on their Christmas album.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 05:20 PM

The New Christies Mintrels!! grew up on this song...Gee it sure was a swell christmas dinner that year!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,Ebor.Fiddler
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 06:35 PM

Geoff Woods of Leeds used to sing a version that he had collected in the sixties, which I think I have on tape somewhere. This was in a broad Yorkshire (WR, I think) dialect and was extremely funny. (I intended to sat something very profound here, but have forgotten what it was. Heigh ho!)

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,Ebor.Fiddler
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 06:36 PM

Sat? SAY! Me old fool.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,Cathy
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM

My father, now in his 80s and his mother sang this song to me. It had spoken sections as well as singing. I will ask if he can recite/ sing it for me and I'll write it out. He is from South GA but has Scottish ancestry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 07:30 PM

I'm from Newfoundland, Canada. I've been looking for this song for years. Up until last year this song was played on a local radio station frequently during the Christmas season.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,Jill Pic
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 11:27 PM

I rew up hearing a vesion of this song on the radio every morning in December before school. It was by The New Cristy Minstrels. Love it!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 14 - 01:29 PM

My mum passed away last year (age 82) and dad found a folder full of things she had saved. One was Aunt Belle's "Old Parson's Sheep." Similar wording to what has been posted. I remember my grandmother and Aunt reciting/singing this as a child. Gram was born in 1900 in Pultneyville, New York. Aunt Belle was her sister-in-law and bit older. Dutch and English heritage. Deb K


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jan 14 - 01:51 PM

Commiserations, Guest.

Why not give your grandmother's version to posterity by posting it here?

Even if it was identical to ones posted already someone would find the information useful and of interest.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jan 14 - 02:17 PM

The song was printed as a song sheet, as "Old Parson Brown," by H. De Marsan, NYC, mid 19th C. Air: "The Rakes of Mallow."

Copy in American Memory.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jan 14 - 03:40 PM

That's interesting Q. Bob Davenport was the first person I heard sing this back in the 60s and the tune he sang does seem to be a simplified variant of Rakes of Mallow.

Although I can't find any versions older than about 1850, it was widely printed in Britain and its popularity even provoked a second set of verses.

However an earlier prototype from the 18th century was 'The Parson's Fat Wedder'. There's a Morren of Edinburgh printing at Harvard and the BL has a garland 'The Parson's Garland' with it under the title The Parson and Boy' with 13 stanzas.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jan 14 - 06:43 PM

"Parson Brown's Sheep." Birmingham c. 1850 (Jim Dixon, above) is exactly reproduced in the De Marsan "Old Parson Brown" printed in New York.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,delina chamberlain
Date: 17 Sep 14 - 04:57 AM

My grandfather was Danish, and he would dress up in a wig and a dress, and then sang a different version of this song. I know the words if you want me to send them to you. My son does not put on. The dress and wig and does change a little of it because he doesn't remember, it was his great grandpa. Probably why there are 25 versions. Grandpa's version is not as long and is all English, but we always loved it when he performed it. Fun......good Christmas that didn't cost a dime.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: GUEST,Janet
Date: 29 Nov 14 - 01:24 PM

My dad is 81 yrs old. He helped his sister learn this as a young child. While in the hospital recently I recorded him saying/singing it. With a couple variations it is much like "Guest: My Grandma's Version" from 20 Mar 09. I had heard him do it over the years but didn't know most of it. So this time I have a recording of it. I "googled" it and found variations but all basically the same story/song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Parson Brown's Sheep: how I cheated old..
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Nov 14 - 04:21 PM

Please post all these variants as researchers like to study as many variants as possible and the geographical distribution is also important.

Delina, if your grandfather was Danish did he know a Danish version? Pieces like this often have their equivalents in other European countries.


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