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Child's 'Grey Cock'

DigiTrad:
GREY COCK
GREY COCK (2)
NIGHT VISITING SONG
OH, ARE YOU SLEEPING MAGGIE
SWEET WILLIAM'S GHOST
WESTRON WYND (3)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: A version of Sweet William's Ghost (5)
Lyr Req/Add: The Cocks Are Crowing (31)
Lyr Add: The Grey Cock (NOT Penguin version) (20)
Lyr Req: Sweet William's Ghost (Hughie Jones) (23)
Lyr Req: Lover's Ghost (30)
Lyr Req/Add: My Pretty Crowing Chickens (10)
Lyr Req: Willie-O (from Cathal McConnell) (11)
Penguin: The Grey Cock (24)
Lover's ghost (9)
Lyr Req: The Lover's Ghost (5)
Lyr Req: Lover's Ghost (request only) (3)
Lyr Req: Well Met, My Own True Love (14)


Seecora 10 Mar 05 - 05:54 AM
GUEST,MCP 10 Mar 05 - 06:01 AM
Seecora 10 Mar 05 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,MCP 10 Mar 05 - 07:15 AM
Snuffy 10 Mar 05 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,MCP 10 Mar 05 - 10:00 AM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Mar 05 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,39 years & 11 months 10 Mar 05 - 12:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Mar 05 - 02:08 PM
Seecora 10 Mar 05 - 02:49 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Mar 05 - 03:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Mar 05 - 04:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Oct 13 - 05:33 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Oct 13 - 03:25 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Oct 13 - 04:24 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Oct 13 - 01:27 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Oct 13 - 03:32 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Oct 13 - 08:14 PM
Herga Kitty 07 Oct 13 - 08:38 AM
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Subject: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Seecora
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 05:54 AM

Hi,

I am in the middle of comparing the different versions related to the Grey Cock (Child 248).

Is there someone who has Volume IV at hand to tell me whether the returning ghost motif is present in the Child's texts, please? Is it a revenant ballad or a night-visiting song or a fragment? How many texts does Child note? (Internet sources provide just variant A, which lacks the supernatural motif; other sources talk of one or two additional versions, but give no details.)

I wouldn't bother you with this strange request if I had the volume in question at reach, but unfortunately I don't! :(

I will sure be grateful for any response.

Thanks,

Seecora


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 06:01 AM

I do have these, but the texts are available online - eg Child Ballads at Hawaii.

See also A Concordance To The Child Ballads

Mick


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Seecora
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 06:44 AM

Hi Mick,

thanks for the tip. The problem is that these online texts feature just one variant of the Grey Cock, with no supernatural elements whatsoever...

Since one of my folksong collections mentions that there were two (maybe even three?) Child versions of this ballad, I am in search of the variants missing from sites such as the one you linked me to. But so far no luck, that's why I asked for help people with 'the real book' :-).

Seecora


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 07:15 AM

I thought the online text was complete (the A letter in the index at Hawaii is meant to show that variants exist, though 248 is shown with the suffix in the index though there is only 1 variant)

Anyway, Child shows only the 1 entry for #248 The Grey Cock.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 09:04 AM

Just the one here too: www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/.

There are several discussion threads on this song. I think the consensus is that it was originally a night-visiting song; the revenant verses appearing only in Mrs Costello's version from the early 1950s, apparently "borrowed" at some stage from "Biscay-o" or similar.


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 10:00 AM

(I've just lost a post on this - Mudcat ceased responding on submit so I'm doing this via Ip..99 - which I'll now try to recreate).

My copy of the Roud Index has 106 entries for this song, many of them recordings of oral sources.

Child's text came from various editions of Herd's Ancient and Modern Scots Songs (stanzas 1,4,6,7 from 1769, others from later additions, complete in 1776). Child refers to several reprints of this in later collections. He also refers to a version in Chappell (which is different - not from Herd) and in Graves Irish Songs and Ballads.

The following early sources are listed in Roud, but it is not clear whether they are reprints from Herd or different versions: Gilchrist, Scottish Songs Ancient & Modern (1865) pp.140-141; Lyric Gems of Scotland (1856) 2 p.57; Whitelaw, Book of Scottish Song (1845) p.427; Smith, Scotish Minstrel (1st edn. (1820-24) 6 pp.78-79; (4th edn.) 6 pp.54-55; Select Songs of Scotland (1854) p.104; Scottish Minstrel (edn. B, c1813) pp.109-110; Caledonian Musical Repository (1811) pp.279-280.

There are also several more recent printed sources for the song listed.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 11:36 AM

There are some hybrid "Grey Cocks" with supernatural elements, but at least one of those seems to be a mis-classification by the collector anyway.

You need to read Hugh Shields' paper on the song-group; bibliographic references are in several past threads here on the subjest.


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: GUEST,39 years & 11 months
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 12:43 PM

.. a song about impending middle-life crisis and loss of vitality ????


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 02:08 PM

No doubt you have seen the Bronson texts, with "Lover's Ghost" versions from Ireland and Newfoundland. The "Little Fishes" text collected by Karpeles is most graphic.
The brief text in Chappell, vol. 2, p. 731, ("Saw You My Father," with music, James Hook?) adds little to the one in Child.


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Seecora
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 02:49 PM

Thanks to Mick and everybody else!

I am faintly acquainted with Hugh Shields' argumentation, which makes my study of the North American versions even more interesting. It almost looks as if the original non-supernatural text was 'supernaturalised' by later broadside or ballad mingling, only to be 'desupernaturalised' by later rationalising tendencies (i.e. Fowke's Ontario variant)... A little too far-fetched, perhaps :).

I just needed to be sure that no other texts of this ballad existed in Child's collection.

So thanks again,

Seecora


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 03:23 PM

Snuffy reported:

I think the consensus is that it was originally a night-visiting song; the revenant verses appearing only in Mrs Costello's version from the early 1950s,

If that is so, A.L. Lloyd (or maybe it was Ewan McColl) in the wonderful 7-hour LP Child set they did in the early 50s, got onto her version awfully quickly. And also if that is so, whichever one of them who sang it was either consciously playing fast and loose with the Child ballads in a set which purported to be traditional or was very uninformed and credulous. And that (in either case) is not the image I have of either one of them.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 04:58 PM

Bert Lloyd did indeed take up Mrs Costello's song quite soon after it was first recorded (by Pat Shuldham-Shaw and Marie Slocombe, for the BBC, 30 November 1951, on a foggy day in Birmingham).

You have to understand that some theorists had very much wanted The Grey Cock to be a supernatural ballad "rationalised" by transmission, and this example was seized on as a sort of "missing link" that proved the theory. Eagerness may have blinded many to the fact that, as Shields later showed, the supernatural sections of Mrs Costello's song are borrowed from an unrelated 19th century Irish broadside, Willy O (itself a re-working of Sweet William's Ghost).

No question of playing fast and loose here; The Grey Cock has become mingled with genuinely revenant songs on other occasions, too (see above and earlier discussions), but all the evidence points to these being late, and relatively rare, accretions.

Lloyd and MacColl were far from uninformed, but scholarship has moved on in the last 50 years. It used to be the received wisdom that supernatural elements were gradually stripped from ballads over the years (and particularly as they travelled to America) and that the existence of such elements in a song was therefore an indicator of antiquity. While that may be true of songs like The House Carpenter, there has also been a process working in the opposite direction. Under the influence of 19th century romanticism, many revenant songs were written based on the night-visiting model, and in some cases entered tradition. In a few cases these became mixed up with older, non-supernatural songs such as The Grey Cock.

That sort of thing happens. The new, hybrid songs are indeed "revenant" songs; but to extrapolate from that and insist that The Grey Cock is a revenant ballad in most versions of which the supernatural element has disappeared, is to take a stand on increasingly shaky ground. As Shields demonstrates, the reverse is the conclusion supported by the evidence; that is, The Grey Cock is a night-visiting song which, in a few, relatively recent cases, has acquired supernatural elements from other songs. Quite an important distinction.

As for credulity; anyone can be credulous at times if what they are seeing is something they had always hoped to see, and if it seems to confirm something they already wanted to believe. Neither Lloyd nor MacColl were above "playing fast and loose" with ballads (as we are becoming increasingly aware) but that isn't the case here.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: O Saw Ye My Father, Grey Cock, Child
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Oct 13 - 05:33 PM

Lyr. Add: O SAW YE MY FATHER?
Child 248, Herd, Ancient and Modern Scots Songs

1
O saw ye my Father, or saw ye my Mother,
Or saw ye my true love John
I saw not your Father, I saw not your Mother,
But I saw your true love John.
2
It's now ten at night, and the stars gi'e nae light,
And the bells they ring, ding dong;
He's met wi' some delay, that causeth him to stay,
But he will be here ere long.
3
The surly auld earl did naething but snarl,
And Johny's face it grew red;
Yet tho' he often sigh'd, he ne'er a word reply'd,
Till all were asleep in bed.
4
Up Johny rose, and to the door he goes,
And gently tirled the pin;
The lassie taking tent, unto the door she went,
And she open'd, and let him in.
5
And are you come at last, and do I hold ye fast,
And is my Johny true!
I have nae time to tell, but sae lang's I like myself,
Sae lang shall I love you.
6
Flee up, flee up, my bonny gray cock,
And craw when it is day;
Your neck shall be like the bonny beaten gold,
And your wings of the silver grey.
7
The cock prov'd false, and untrue he was,
For he crew an hour o'er soon;
The lassie thought it day, when she sent her love away,
And it was but a blink of the moon.

Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, no. 248.
Reproduced in Bronson, with brief score, p 439.


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 13 - 03:25 PM

There is another "Saw Ye," often called "Crucifixion."

Crucifixion
Saw ye my Saviour
Saw ye my Saviour
Saw ye my Saviour and God
O he died on Calvary,
To atone for you and me
And to purchase our pardon with blood.

Baptist Harmony p. 477.

Southern Harmony no. 25
Musical score with lyrics at http://www.hymnary/SH1835/25


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 04:24 AM

There was an excellent paper on the ballad given by the late Hugh Shields at an International Ballad Conference many years ago.
It was published along with a collection of other papers from the Conferences - can't lay my hands on it at the moment, but it's here somewhere.
If it's of any interest, I'll happily dig it out and pass it on.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 01:27 PM

Jim, please do, especially if tunes are discussed.
There seems to be some discordance among versions (and "authority").


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 03:32 PM

Surely the Burns version is revenant and predates Lloyd, or am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 08:14 PM

"Jim, please do, especially if tunes are discussed."
Haven't had time to dig it out yet, but will do so on Tuesday when we get back from our trip to The Burren - I think I've digitised it already.
Seem to remember that it's text-based rather than musical.
Please PM me an e-mail address - same goes for anybody else interested.
We recorded 2 versions of 'Willie O' - a magnificent one entitled Biscay O sung by Wexford Traveller Bill Cassidy, available on our 'From Puck to Appleby' double CD of Irish Traveller singers, and another from Clare singer, Nora Cleary which is on volume three of Voice of the People, sung by Clare singer Nora Cleary
Have a musical annotation of Bill's if it's any use.
I seem to remember we also recorded it from Scot's Traveller Duncan Williamson.
A nice version is to be found on the Tom Munnelly/Sean Corcoran/Hugh Shields album 'Ancient Ballads of Ireland, rec 1968-1985', entitled 'Pretty Little Cock', sung by Joe Holmes and Len Graham.
The album was first issued in the 60s on cassette and has been unavailable for some time, but the Goilin Club in Dublin have been working on a re-issue for some years now - by far the most important collection of field recordings of Child ballads to come out of Ireland - a must for ballad buffs.
Tom collected 50 Child ballad titles from the old generation of Irish singers - I have a list.
I suppose you are all aware of Sheila Douglas's parody - can't remember title but it starts
"On Monday night he came to my door".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child's 'Grey Cock'
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 08:38 AM

Jim, according to my copy of "My Song is my Own", Sheila Douglas's parody was called "Too Much of a Good Thing" but the version included in "My Song is my Own" was the Peggy Seeger adaptation (with her tune), renamed "Nightshift".

It might be worth mentioning that the Tim van Eyken programme about Night Visiting songs is being repeated tonight on BBC Radio 4 at 11.30pm.

Kitty


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