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ADD/Origins: The Mare and the Foal

16 Aug 06 - 04:30 AM (#1810947)
Subject: ADD: The Mare and the Foal
From: Joe Offer

I transferred this message from the Soldier and the Sailor thead. I didn't see how it fit there. It was also posted today in the Rigs of the Time thread. I found the following lyrics, but so far no tune or origins information. I swear I've heard this as a joke.
-Joe Offer-


I'll sing you a song if you'll only give ear
Of a young suckling foal and a foolish old mare
And I'll quickly tell you how this came to pass,
The Mare and the Foal went to church to hear Mass

Laddie fol-the-di-do, Right fol the dol day.

The Church door being open they rolled in with speed
And up to the Bible and began for to read;
"Stop, stop", says the Mare "I must go back again
As I want a clerk for to answer 'Amen'"

"Stop, stop," says the Foal "let us both stay within
And damn the word you'll say but I'll answer 'Amen'"
With that the old Mare agreed to stay in
And each word she said the Foal answered 'Amen'"

Let us pray for the Blacksmith, the King of all fellows,
He stands at the block while a man blows the bellows,
May he never be in want of iron or coal,
Pincers or hammer." "Amen" says the Foal.

Let us pray for the Baker all in the hard year
He buys his flour cheap and he sells his bread dear,
And if he's not well paid for all he has sold
That the Devel may pay him" 'Amen' says the Foal.

Lets us pray for the Shoemaker all in the wet weather
He sews up old sides instead of tanned leather;
That his ends and his awls may from him be stole,
And his rump may be burned." "Amen" says the Foal.

Let us pray for the farmer, the lazy old hound,
He makes us work hard the whole year around,
That his praties and turnips may rot in the hole
And the devil may whack him." "Amen" says the Foal.

Transcribed on June 25, 2000 by T. M. Carlsen
Notes from transcriber: spelling and punctuation as in original.

from - (Songs Collected by Donagh MacDonagh), referred to on
There is no entry for this song in the Traditional Ballad Index. Here's the netry form, which does relate dthe song to "the Soldier and the Sailor."
    MARE AND THE FOAL, THE - "The old clerk in the parish - pray for millers - bakers - tailors - butchers" - SHARP-KARPELES CSC 1974 #319 pp363-4 John Webb, Pillerton, Warwicksh 1911 - SHARP VC 1912 John Webb - JFSS 35 p270 Moeran from George Hill East Stoneham, Stowmarket, Suffolk - JIFSS XX p57 A Martin Freeman - KENNEDY FSBI 1975 pp538-9 Suffolk (w/o) - PALMER EBEC 1979 #30 pp64-5 Moeran: George Hill 1921 - RICHARDS-STUBBS EFS 1979 p173 Moeran - Cf THE SOLDIER AND THE SAILOR

16 Aug 06 - 05:07 AM (#1810965)
Subject: ADD Version: The Mare and the Foal
From: Joe Offer

The Mare and the Foal

The old clerk in the parish I know very well,
He often do toll the eight o'clock bell;
He went to the ale house and got a full pot,
And forgot the old church for to lock-a-lock lock.

Ri-lo ri-riddle la-liddle
La diddle la diddle-i-day

A mare and a foal they ran in great speed,
The mare from the Bible began for to read,
"Stay," said the foal, "before you begin,
Whatever you pray for I'll answer Amen."

"We'll pray for the millers who grind us our corn,
For they are the biggest rogues that ever were born;
Instead of one sackful they'll take two for toll,
May the devil take millers," "Amen" said the foal.

"We'll pray for the bakers who bake us our bread,
They'll take a small loaf and then hurl at your head;
They'll rip it and squeeze it at every roll,
May the devil take bakers," "Amen" said the foal.

"We'll pray for the tailors, for they are no men,
They'll buy an old coat and they'll sell it again;
They'll rub it and scrub it and darn up a hole,
May the devil take tailors," "Amen" said the foal.

"We'll pray for the publicans who draw us our liquor,
Small measure they like, they can fill us the quicker,
If you ask them for best beer they'll draw you the small,
May the devil take publicans," "Amen" said the foal.

"We'll pray for the butchers, for they are great cheats,
They'll buy an old cow and they'll sell it young meat.
My their fingers be burnt into cinders of coal,
May the devil take butchers," "Amen" said the foal.

Notes: like "The Rigs of the Time," this song was collected in East Anglia by the composer, E.J. Moeran.

source: Palmer, English Country Songbook

Click to play

The same version is in the English Folksinger, by Richards & Stubbs; and also in Peter Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain and Ireland. Kennedy says Cecil Sharp believed that "The Soldier and the Sailor" is an updated version of "Mare and the Foal."

16 Aug 06 - 11:24 AM (#1811200)
Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Mare and the Foal
From: GUEST,Lighter

Thanks, Joe ! Moeran's melody is not much like "Villikins."

17 Aug 06 - 02:19 AM (#1811962)
Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Mare and the Foal
From: Malcolm Douglas

The text Joe quotes was noted by E J Moeran from George Hill, East Stonham, Suffolk, in 1921. It originally appeared in Journal of the Folk-Song Society VIII (35) 1931, 270-1, and has been re-printed as detailed above. It is obviously the ultimate source of the incomplete text quoted by 'The Vulgar Boatman', though a few changes or mis-rememberings have crept in in his case.

Cecil Sharp got a set from John Webb at Pillerton, Warwickshire, on 23 August 1911; a reference is given in the notes quoted above from Peter Kennedy's website.

Beyond that, and the example from Ireland quoted here, it hasn't turned up all that much. There was a broadside, 'The Silly Mare and Foal', which is probably where it came from; but I haven't seen that. The song is number 1477 in the Roud Folk Song Index for anyone who wants to look further into it.

There may well be a connection with 'The Soldier and the Sailor' / 'Parson and Clerk' group; but on the whole I doubt any relationship with 'Rigs of the Time' except in a generic sense.

17 Aug 06 - 03:10 PM (#1812431)
Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Mare and the Foal
From: Joe Offer

In Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, Peter Kennedy ties "Mare and the Foal" to "Rigs of the Time" and "The Hard Times of Old England" because they "contain verses of complaint against various tradesmen."
Of course, the more obvious connection is between these songs: All follow the same pattern, with a prayer in each verse recited by one party, and the other party answering "Amen."