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Happy! – Dec 24 (Bad King John)


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DTStudy: King John and the Bishop (Child #45) (21)
Folklore: Answer 3 questions by the king (3)

Abby Sale 24 Dec 05 - 11:33 AM
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Subject: Happy! – Dec 24 (Bad King John)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 24 Dec 05 - 11:33 AM

Happy Birthday!

(Bad) King John of England (1199-1216)

was born 12/24/1167

        King John was not a good man –
        He had his little ways.
        And sometimes no one spoke to him
        For days and days and days.

                AA Milne

But some didn't think he was all that bad:

        A story, a story, a story of one
        About a young prince and his name was King John
        He was a man, a man of great mirth
        He saw great rights and he put down all wrongs
            To me down, down, derry I down

                "King John and the Abbot of Canterbury," Child #45

First printed about 1672 but Child feels the song's root story is much older - at least back to 6th century Egyptian folklore (and there's a Coptic version from 850 ce.)

This version as sung by the superb Vermont balladeer, Margaret MacArthur on her CD Ballads Thrice Twisted. Had I known then about Margaret and the considerable New England ballad tradition, I might have gone there instead of Scotland. Weather's similar but the accent's easier. You can hear her at The Kennedy Center

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky

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