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Lyr Req: A was an archer

GUEST,Ian Pittaway 23 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM
DMcG 23 Sep 06 - 11:00 AM
GUEST 23 Sep 06 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 23 Sep 06 - 03:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 06 - 08:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 06 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 24 Sep 06 - 06:48 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Sep 06 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 25 Sep 06 - 08:40 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM

In his book, 'Green Print for Song', Sydney Carter wrote: "It was at a Quaker meeting house in Sunderland, where I was being entertained by local Friends in 1943 or 1944, that I encountered a perfect survival of the medieval carol: of a ring dance accompanied by a song. It was called 'A was an archer'. Dancers held hands in a ring, every man between two women, and circled (walking) while a singer standing in the middle of the circle sang. He started thus: "A was an archer / An archer, an archer O / He arched, I arched / We both arched together O / He worked hard / And gave me all his money O / He took me in his arms / And he called me his honey O". After the first line, everyone would sing; and at the words, "He took me in his arms", each man did that to the woman on his right and spun her round so that she was on his left, and so round the circle, verse by verse. There were 26 verses, working through the alphabet: B was a baker, C (I think) was a carter, X was an Xmas, Z was a zulu, Q was a Quaker." Sydney Carter then gives the tune, which is very charming, dotted rhythms based around an arpeggio, much like a polka. Please tell me someone has all or some of the words to this. The only thing I can find on the net is a nursery rhyme that starts the same way but is not this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 11:00 AM

I don't know this one, but the lines "He worked hard / And gave me all his money O / He took me in his arms / And he called me his honey O" are very reminiscient of "The Bonnie Pit Laddie" in the version sung by Killen and Handle, for example.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 03:07 PM

Medieval period was from about 500-1500 CE. I would suspect that if the original indeed WAS from the medieval period it would be from a time after the modern alphabet was accepted as standard in English. Since Caxton was in large part responsible for 'freezing' the written language, I would think the earliest the song could be dated in a 26-letter-alphabet form would be about 1400. However, it's more likely towards the end of the 1400s. Just a guess.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 03:34 PM

Yes, Guest, I think we have to take with a pinch of salt the idea that this is a particular medieval carol survived intact, if that is indeed what Sydney Carter meant. He may, I think, have meant simply that this was a survival of the form, rather than a survival of this particular carol. Still, that is rare enough, I think. I have certainly never seen anything like the activity he describes. Anyone know the other 25 verses of this song???


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 08:08 PM

The nursery rhyme "A Was an Archer" may be found at www.mamalisa.com/house/archer.html

Also at http://ingeb.org/songs/awasanar.html.

Similar lines found in an 18th c. toy book, but any speculation that the nursery rhyme goes back to medieval times is just that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 08:20 PM

Also found in Halliwell's "The Nursery Rhymes of England," 1846, which is on line.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 24 Sep 06 - 06:48 AM

I know about the nursery rhyme. Anyone know about the song or the circle dance?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Sep 06 - 02:13 PM

Suggest you try to get "Egbert van Heemskerck's Quaker Meetings Revisited," Harry Mount, Journal of the Warburg and Courtald Institutes, vol. 56, 1993, pp. 209-228, which may have citations to references on Quaker dances.

Nothing in:
Eckenstein, Comparative Studies ...
Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland
Opie and Opie, The Singing Game
Botkin, The American Play Party Song
Newell, Games and Songs of American Children
Olson, British Isles Country Dances of the Eighteenth Century


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: A was an archer
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 25 Sep 06 - 08:40 AM

It does appear that Sydney Carter came across something that no one has collected, then (except him, in the aforementioned book). That would make sense, in a way, as it isn't a morris dance or anything related, and isn't exactly a song in itself, so it may well have slipped through the net. I'll just have to make up my own verses. Unless anyone knows otherwise ...


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