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Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)

14 Apr 05 - 08:36 PM (#1461667)
Subject: Lyr Req: Scots Song
From: GUEST,Cristina

Hi guys,

I'm looking for "the witches' reel" lyrics. Anyone can help me?

Thank you!


14 Apr 05 - 09:33 PM (#1461717)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song
From: mindblaster

I am a tight fisted skirt wearing scotch-man. in D minor.


15 Apr 05 - 10:06 AM (#1462110)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE WITCHES' REEL
From: Drumshanty

Is this it?

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye
If ye willna go before, cummer let me
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Linkin' lithely widdershins
Cummer carlin, crone and queen
Roun' go we

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye
If ye willna go before, cummer let me
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Loupin' lightly widdershins
Kilted coats and fleein' hair
Three times three

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye
If ye willna go before, cummer let me
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Whirlin' skirlin' widdershins
De'il tak the hindmost
Wha'er she be


16 Apr 05 - 03:07 AM (#1462770)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

I expect that's what Cristina meant, though it would have been helpful if she'd given us just a little information. By the same token, where did you get the words? Just so we know, you understand.


16 Apr 05 - 03:38 AM (#1462790)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

Perhaps here, Malcolm.


16 Apr 05 - 04:21 AM (#1462804)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

Several websites quote words, but none acknowledge any source so far as I can see. I was hoping that "Drumshanty" might have got them from somewhere that provided an attribution. "Chantan", for example, give a date with their recording of the song but neglect to say anything useful about where they got it and when the tune was added, and by whom. The implication (by omission) is that the tune is 16th century, which seems rather unlikely. Perhaps someone who has the cd (Primary Colours, Culburnie CUL108) could tell us what the copyright details are?


16 Apr 05 - 04:40 AM (#1462812)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

Have a look here, MD.

At risk of confusing a straight-forward quest, please see if the 'sheetmusic' tab is for the song requested here. If so, then the 'comments' tab has some info that may lead somewhere.

Bruce


16 Apr 05 - 04:45 AM (#1462815)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Jim McLean

The Danish text says that the song was sung by a witness at a witches' trial in 1590 but no further clarification. It also translates 'cummer' as 'come' but gives a correct translation as 'woman' in the notes.


16 Apr 05 - 04:56 AM (#1462821)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

"While Geilis Duncan played the Witches' Reel
Upon a jews-harp."

This is from Longfellow's "Giles Corey of the Salem Farms." However, I don't know if the reference is the same reel being discussed here or not. However, if it is, it will then allow us to date the play at least to the time Longfellow wrote it.


16 Apr 05 - 04:58 AM (#1462823)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Jim McLean

For Danish read Swedish! It's a long time since I lived in Denmark and as I was also in the Swedish merchant navy, I sometimes initially confuse the written language!


16 Apr 05 - 05:00 AM (#1462825)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

'1868 The New England Tragedies. This is the third section of Longfellow's verse drama trilogy comprising Christus (1872), his history of Christianity in the form of medieval mystery plays. This section consists of two dramas: in "John Endicott," Longfellow traces the persecution of the Quakers by the Puritans; in "Giles Corey of the Salem Farms," Longfellow treats the Salem witchcraft hysteria.'

From http://www.answers.com/topic/henry-wadsworth-longfellow


16 Apr 05 - 05:06 AM (#1462830)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

I haven't heard the song, so I don't know if somebody has set the words to Lowe's 19th century tune The Witches. I ought to have the text in a book somewhere, if it's authentic, but I really can't think where (not Murray). I'm rather suspicious of that "crone and queen" bit, but I daresay we'll see eventually. Meanwhile, the copyright info from the cd would probably help; unless they've copped out and just said "trad".


16 Apr 05 - 05:10 AM (#1462832)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

Malcolm,

You have the lead in this. Please direct me as to what I should look for. I haven't heard the reel either.

Bruce


16 Apr 05 - 05:17 AM (#1462835)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Peace

BINGO maybe.

http://www.culburnie.com/albums/Chantan/primary.htm

See #7. However, there is a small-print statement at the bottom which says all songs traditionally credited.

"7. The Witches' Reel
A song from 1591 and the witch trials of King James VI of Scotland. A time when any woman could be accused of being a witch on a whim. The words came from the transcripts of one of the trials in connection with a plot by Francis Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and others to kill the king. It is the first written record of a reel in Scotland. Christine has a theory that some local worthy trumped up charges to "frame" the women and claim their possessions."

This jives with what Jim found in the Swedish remmarks.


16 Apr 05 - 05:32 AM (#1462843)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

Well, things were happening while I was posting my last. The Longfellow reference is helpful. Geillis or Gelie Duncan (a player of the "trump"; that is, jews-harp) was named as a member of the North Berwick "coven" (39 named in all, but only 4 tried, it seems) that plotted the death of King James in 1590. Margaret Murray, Witch Cult in Western Europe, 50-59. She makes no mention of any song, however. Her main interest in the story was in trying to demonstrate the existence of a real witch cult with the Earl of Bothwell as its leader, so her quotes from the trial transcriptions are selective.


16 Apr 05 - 12:49 PM (#1463010)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Jim McLean

I got the following from here: http://www.nonvi.com/sm/scottish_period.html


The use of reel as a type of dance refers to a different dance than a modern reel. In Newes from Scotland (1591) [Scotland's Music 15, p. 123], the dance is described as being dance to "Cummer Gae Ye Afore", which is a song which goes as follows:

Cummer gae ye afore, cummer gae ye,
Gin ye winna gae, cummer let me,
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Linkin lithely widdershins,
Cummers carlin cron and queyn
Roun gae we.

This indicates some kind of ring dance, if the song actually described the dance that was done.


16 Apr 05 - 04:32 PM (#1463144)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

That explains "crone and queen", then. Someone has misunderstood "queyn", which of course just means "girl" (OE cwene).

A transcription of Newes from Scotland, taken from the Bodley Head edition of 1924, can be seen at http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/kjd/kjd11.htm. Various websites reproduce the woodcuts, and there are several relevant studies by Dr Edward H. Thompson of Dundee University at http://homepages.tesco.net/~eandcthomp/.

Only two lines of the dance-song are quoted, so the rest must have come from somewhere else (the trial transcripts, according to "Chantan"). It may have been a well-known thing at the time. According to Sands' Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time (1881), James actually had poor Gellie (sic) Duncan play the tune for him at Holyrood, not that it did her much good.

There is a short sound sample of the recording at http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,364909-679340,00.html. The tune sounds vaguely familiar, but perhaps only because it's one of those ubiquitous trichord things. At any rate, it isn't Lowe's The Witches.

It seems that Murray is misleading over the number of people tried, so best disregard my earlier remark on that point. It isn't relevant to the song or its tune anyway.


17 Apr 05 - 12:22 AM (#1463315)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: GUEST,Murray on Salt Spring

The text given is [barring some Englishing of the Scots] that quoted in Thomas Davidson, "Rowan Tree and Red Thread" (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1949), p. 18; source note is "Chambers' Journal (April 1939)".
Three centuries is a long time for a song to lie underground, and I have no doubt that the poem is a modern thing inspired by Geillis Duncan's song. I don't see how it would fit too well with the Lowe tune, however.


17 Apr 05 - 01:50 PM (#1463650)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
From: Malcolm Douglas

The Lowe tune turns out to have been a red herring. Do, if you have the opportunity, listen to the sound sample I indicated; you are much more likely to recognise the tune actually used, if it's a borrowed one, than I am.

It would be no great surprise if the verses were to turn out to be a fabrication based on a few genuine lines, and which has simply been assumed all to derive from the trial transcriptions because part of it does. Thanks for those references. A look at the piece in Chambers seems necessary, but unfortunately the only runs available where I am are 19th century.


29 Apr 05 - 05:14 PM (#1474548)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE WITCHES' REEL (from Ken Radford)
From: wildlone

This was taken from Ken Radfords book
Fire Burn
Published in 1989 by guild publishing.
CN 9889.

" This is the song that the North Berwick witches sang as they danced"

The Witches Reel

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye,
If ye willna go before, cummer let me,
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Linkin lithely widdershins,
Cummer carlin crone and queen
Roun go we.

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye,
If ye willna go before, cummer let me,
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Loupen lithely widdershins,
Kilted coats and fleeing hair
Three times three.

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye,
If ye willna go before, cummer let me,
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Whirlin'Skirlin widdershins,
And de'il take the hindmost
Who'er she be.

dave


29 Apr 05 - 09:29 PM (#1474673)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: Malcolm Douglas

What source did he name for that?


30 Apr 05 - 03:11 PM (#1475140)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: wildlone

Malcolm, Unforunatly There are no sources mentioned in the particular chapter on the North Berwick witches.

I have looked it up in my copy of the Dictionary of Witchcraft by David Pickering and he wrote that it was taken down in a statement from Agnes Sampson [one of the witches] during her interrogation.

I wonder if there is a mention in any of the state papers for Scotland as King James VI was present and questioned Agnes personaly.
James also went on to write his Discourse on Demonology later.

dave


27 Feb 06 - 07:20 PM (#1680701)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST,Calista

I was just curious how people would dance to this... if there is a dance or if people would just sing it. When we first heard this song on a different cd then the one listed above, it was by Green Crown, it sounded to us like steps to a dance. Like how square dancing tells you what to do or the electric slide. Can anyone here tell me?


17 Oct 08 - 03:11 PM (#2468488)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: Jack Campin

The first two lines "Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye/Gif ye will not go before, cummer let me" do come from the trial records. The rest was obviously made up in the twentieth century - I assumed Davidson did it, but Murray refers to a source of ten years earlier. I'll see if I can look that up.

There is a tune for the authentic couplet, given with no source in the notebooks of Lady John Scott. It's nothing like Lowe's tune and badly garbled (Scott's copyist was dreadful). I completed it with a couple of bars that seemed right to me and included it in my "Embro, Embro" CD-ROM. Scott was no scholar and there's no evidence that her tune really goes back to James VI's time.


30 Oct 08 - 02:02 PM (#2480099)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST

Cummer gae ye afore, cummer gae ye,
Gin ye winna gae, cummer let me,
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Linkin lithely widdershins,
Cummers carlin cron and queyn
Roun gae we.

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye
If ye willna go before, cummer let me
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Loupin' lightly widdershins
Kilted coats and fleein' hair
Three times three

Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye
If ye willna go before, cummer let me
Ring-a-ring-a-widdershins
Whirlin' skirlin' widdershins
De'il tak the hindmost
Wha'er she be


30 Oct 08 - 02:03 PM (#2480101)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST

The Witches' Reel
A song from 1591 and the witch trials of King James VI of Scotland. A time when any woman could be accused of being a witch on a whim. The words came from the transcripts of one of the trials in connection with a plot by Francis Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and others to kill the king. It is the first written record of a reel in Scotland.


30 Oct 08 - 03:11 PM (#2480169)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

GUEST, those words do not come from the trial records. Only the couplet I quoted does. If you have a source for that song from before 1939, say what it is.


30 Oct 08 - 03:50 PM (#2480198)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST,Malcolm Douglas (not at home)

He or she has merely copied-and-pasted, word for word and without crediting his or her source (misleading sleeve notes written by people who probably ought to have known better), quotations that are already in this thread. A completely pointless exercise on the part of somebody who obviously couldn't be bothered to read the discussion before bestowing his or her redundant (and borrowed) pearls of wisdom. We get our fair share of such time-wasters here.


23 Oct 09 - 06:19 AM (#2750903)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: GUEST

http://www.prestoungrange.org/arts-festival/html/witches/witchs_reel.html


23 Oct 09 - 07:35 AM (#2750947)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
From: Jack Campin

"A half-truth is like a half-brick, you can throw it further".

There seems to be no way to contact Prestoungrange Arts Festival from that link. Andrew Crummy is a familiar name from somewhere, though - I'll try to contact him.