Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire may day carols

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CAMBRIDGESHIRE MAY CAROL
Tune: ARISE, ARISE

The tune is known as “Arise, arise” and the carols of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire are very similar, even in the lyrics.

Ruth Barrett & Cyntia Smith from  “Music of the Rolling World” (1982) I really like the processional gait cadenced by the drum

CAMBRIDGE MAY SONG
I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids
And take your May Bush in
For if it is gone before tomorrow morn
You would say we have brought you none.
II
All through the night before daylight
There fell the dew and rain.
It sparkles bright on the May Bush white;
It glistens on the plain.
III
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
as green as grass can be.
Our Heavenly Mother watereth them
With her heavenly dew so sweet (1).
IV
A branch of May we’ll bring to you
As at your door we stand.
It’s not but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The work of Our Lady’s hand.
V
Our song is done,
it’s time we were gone
We can no longer stay.
We bless you all, both great and small
And we send you a joyful May.

NOTE
1) This carol lets us glimpse, among the tributes paid to the Virgin Mary, some pre-Christian rituals practiced in May Day: in addition to the May branch also the bath in the dew and in the wild waters rich in rain. The night is the magic of April 30 and the dew collected was a real panacea able to awaken the beauty of women!

Shirley Collins, Cambridgeshire May Carol

I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids,
And take your May bush in,
For if that is gone before tomorrow morn/ You would say we had brought you none.
II
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
As green as grass can be;
Our heavenly father watereth them/With his heavenly dew so sweet..
III
I have got a little purse in my pocket
That’s tied with a silken string;
And all that it lacks is a little of your gold
To line it well within.
IV
Now the clock strikes one,
it’s time we are gone,
We can no longer stay;
So please to remember our money, money box
And God send you a joyful May.

draft_lens18966079module155701739photo_1323457372Kate_Greenaway_-_May_day

CAMBRIDGE MAY GARLAND SONG

Collected in 1900 in the Peterborough area
Mary Humphreys

I
Good  morning, lords and ladies,
It is the first of May;
I hope you’ll view the garland,
For it looks so very gay.
(refrain)  
To the greenwood we will go.
II
I’m  very glad to spring as come
The sun is shine so bright
The little birds upon the threes
Are singing with delight
III
The  cuckoo(1) sings in April,
The cuckoo sings in May,
The cuckoo sings in June,
In July she flies away.
IV
The  roads are very dusty
The shoes are very thin
We have a little money-box
To put a money in

SOURCE: Fred Hamer: Garners Gay (1967)
“Mrs. Johnstone [Margery” Mum “Johnstone] learned this carol from her grandmother who came from Carlton and seems to have been popular in some villages close to the Northamptonshire border.The same melody with similar words is spread throughout the south-east of the Midlands ”

Lorraine Nelson Wolf (Bedford carol) 

I
Good   morning lords and ladies
it is the first of May,
We hope you’ll view our garland
it is so bright and gay
REFRAIN
For it is the first of May,
oh it is the first of May,
Remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May.
II
We gathered them this morning
all in the early dew,
And now we bring their beauty
and fragrance all for you
III
The cuckoo comes in April,
it sings its song in May,
In June it changes tune,
in July it flies away
IV
And now you’ve seen our garland
we must be on our way,
So remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May

CHESHIRE MAY-DAY CAROL

Also known under the title “The Sweet Month of May” is a popular song in Cheshire. The text presents many similarities with the Swinton May song to which reference is made for comparison see more

The Wilson Family

I
All on this pleasant morning, together come are we,
To tell you of a blossom that hangs on every tree.
We have stayed up all evening to welcome in the day,
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.
II
Rise up the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
And turn unto your mistress, so comely to behold.
Rise up the mistress of this house, with gold upon your breast,
And if your body be asleep, we hope your souls are dressed.
III
Oh rise up Mister Wilbraham, all joys to you betide.
Your horse is ready saddled, a-hunting for to ride.
Your saddle is of silver, your bridle of the gold,
Your wife shall ride beside you, so lovely to behold.
IV
Oh rise up Mister Edgerton and take your pen in hand,
For you’re a learned scholar, as we do understand.
Oh rise up Mrs. Stoughton, put on your rich attire,
For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire.
V
Oh rise up the good housekeeper, put on your gown of silk,
And may you have a husband good, with twenty cows to milk.
And where are all the pretty maids that live next door to you,
Oh they have gone to bathe themselves, all in the morning dew.
VI
God bless your house and arbour, your riches and your store.
We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and ever more.
So now we’re going to leave you, in peace and plenty here,
We shall not sing this song again, until another year.
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.

ESSEX

So many carols have been Christianized, shifting the homage to the ancient deities to God and Our Lady, as in the next examples. These verses were also documented in the newspapers of the time, for example in the parish of Debden and in the village of Saffron Walden in Essex it was sung:
I
‘I been a rambling all this night,
And sometime of this day;
And now returning back again,
I brought you a garland gay.
II
A garland gay I brought you here,
And at your door I stand;
‘Tis nothing but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The works of our Lord’s hand.
III
So dear, so dear as Christ loved us,
And for our sins was slain,
Christ bids us turn from wickedness,
And turn to the Lord again.’

Each verse was sometimes also interspersed with a refrain::
‘Why don’t you do as we have done,
The very first day of May;
And from my parents I have come,
And would no longer stay.’

Jean Ritchie

I
I’ve been a-wandering all the night
And the best part of the day
Now I’m returning home again
I bring you a branch of May
II
A branch of May,
I’ll bring you my love,
Here at your door I stand
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of the Lord’s own hand
III(1)
In my pocket I’ve got a purse
Tied up with a silver string
All that I do need is a bit of silver
To line it well within
IV
My song is done
and I must be gone
I can no longer stay
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May

NOTE
1) la strofa è a volte preceduta da questa
Take a bible in your hand
And read a chapter through
And when the day of judgment comes
The Lord will think of you

In the “Nooks and Corners of English Life, Past and Present”, John Timbs, 1867: “At Saffron Walden, and in the village of Debden, an old  May-day song is still sung by the little girls, who go about in parties carrying garlands from door to door. The garlands which the girls carry are sometimes large and  handsome, and a doll is usually placed in the middle, dressed  in white, according to certain traditional regulations : this doll represents the Virgin Mary, and is a relic of the ages of Romanism.”

HERTFORDSHIRE

William Hone in his “The Every Day Book”, describes in a letter dated May 1, 1823 the mummers of May Day to Hitchin who cheer the passers-by with their dances: they are “Moll the crazy” and her husband (with the face blackened by smoke and clothes of rags, “she” holding a big ladle and he a broom), “the Lord and the Lady” (dressed in white and decorated with ribbons and gaudy handkerchiefs, with the gentleman holding a sword) and five/six others  couples of dancers and some musicians- they are all men because the ladies were not allowed to mummers mix: they dance grimaces, chase people with the broom and make the audience laugh.

Always William Hone tells us that the Mayers went from house to house to bring May already at the first light of the day (starting at 3 am) singing “Mayer’s Song” and William Chappell in The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1859 also transcribes the melody, more or less the same as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Hitchin May Day Song

I
‘Remember us poor Mayers all,
And thus we do begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
II
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.
III
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hands.
IV
The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek,
Our Heavenly Father he watered them
With heavenly dew so sweet.
V
The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And, if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.
VI
The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in one hour.
VII
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May!’

Sedayne, live The Heavenly Gates (a may carol)

not exactly the same verses, some stanzas are missing
I
We’ve been rambling all the night, the best part of this day,
we are returning here back again to bring you a garland gay.
II
A bunch of May we bare about, before the door it stands;
it is but a sprout but it’s well budded out; it is the work of God’s own hands.
III
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maids, and take the may bush in –
for it will be gone e’er tomorrow morn and you will have none within.
IV
The heavenly gates are open wide to let escape the dew;
it makes no delay, it is here today & it forms on me & you.
V
The life of a man is but a span, he’s cut down like the flower;
he makes no delay, he is here today & he’s vanished all in an hour
VI
And when you are dead & you’re in your grave, all covered with the cold cold clay,
the worms they will eat your flesh good man & your bones they will waste away.
VII
My song is done I must be gone, I can no longer stay;
God bless us all both great & small & wish us a gladsome May.

LINK
http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/may/1.htm
http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/b/bedford.html http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=32490 http://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/maysong.html https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/themoonshinesbright.html
http://www.cbladey.com/mayjack/maysong.html http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/ NonChristmas/bedfordshire_may_day_carol.htm http://folkopedia.efdss.org/images/ 7/73/1908_32_Bedfordshire_May_Day_Carol.pdf
http://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/week-36-northill-may-song/ http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59752
http://piereligion.org/maydaysongs.html
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/Hone/may_day_at_hitchin.htm

http://spellerweb.net/cmindex/Cornish/Valentine.pdf
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=110990

Bedfordshire May Day carols

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BEDFORSHIDE

Moggers-Moggies[Z49-685]
The Lord and the Lady and the Moggers
On 1st May several customs were observed. Children would go garlanding, a garland being, typically, a wooden hoop over which a white cloth was stretched. A looser piece of cloth was fastened at the top which was used to cover the finished garland. Two dolls were fastened in the middle, one large and one small. Ribbons were sewn around the front edge and the rest of the space was filled with flowers. The dolls were supposed to represent the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. The children would stop at each house and ask for money to view the garland.

Another custom, prevalent throughout the county if not the country, was maying. It was done regularly until the outbreak of the First World War and, sporadically, afterwards. Young men would go around at night with may bushes singing May carols. In the morning a may bush was attached to the school flag pole, another would decorate the inn sign at the Crown and others rested against doors, designed to fall in when they were opened. Those maying included a Lord and a Lady, the latter the smallest of the young men with a veil and bonnet. The party also included Moggers or Moggies, a man and a woman with black faces, ragged clothes and carrying besom brushes. (from here)

VIDEO Here is a very significant testimony of Margery “Mum” Johnstone from  Bedforshide collected by Pete Caslte, with two May songs

Maypole dancers dance during May Day celebrations in the village of Elstow, Bedfordshire, in 1952 (Edward Malindine/Getty)

From the testimony of Mrs Margery Johnstone this May Garland or “This Morning Is The 1st of May” was transcribed by Fred Hamer in his “Gay Garners”

Lisa Knapp in Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017


MAY GARLAND*
I
This morning is the first of May,
The prime time of the year:
and If I live and tarry here
I’ll call another year
II
The fields and meadows
are so green
so green as any leek
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet
III
A man a man his life’s a span
he flourishes like a flower,
he’s here today and gone tomorrow
he’s gone all in an hour
IV
The clock strikes one, I must be gone,
I can no longer stay;
to come and — my pretty May doll
and look at my brunch of May
V
I have a purse in my pocket
That’s stroll with a silken string;
And all that it lacks
is a little of your money
To line it well within.

NOTE
* una trascrizione ancora parziale per l’incomprensione della pronuncia di alcune parole

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY DAY CAROL

The carol is known as “The May Day Carol” or “Bedford May Carol” but also “The Kentucky May Carol” (as preserved in the May tradition in the Appalachian Mountains) and was collected in Bedfordshire.
A first version comes from  Hinwick as collected by Lucy Broadwood  (1858 – 1929) and transcribed into “English Traditional Songs and Carols” (London: Boosey & Co., 1908).

Lisa Knapp & Mary Hampton from “Till April Is Dead – A Garland of May”, 2017

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY DAY CAROL
I
I’ve been rambling all the night,
And the best part of the day;
And now I am returning back again,
I have brought you a branch of May.
II
A branch of May, my dear, I say,
Before your door I stand,
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out,
By the work of our Lord’s hand (1).
III
Go down in your dairy and fetch me a cup, A cup of your sweet cream, (2)
And, if I should live to tarry in the town,/I will call on you next year.
IV
The hedges and the fields they are so green,/As green as any leaf,
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet (3).
V
When I am dead and in my grave,
And covered with cold clay,
The nightingale will sit and sing,
And pass the time away.
VI
Take a Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through,
And, when the day of Judgment comes,
The Lord will think on you.
VII
I have a bag on my right arm,
Draws up with a silken string,
Nothing does it want but a little silver
To line it well within.
VIII
And now my song is almost done,
I can no longer stay,
God bless you all both great and small,
I wish you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady, as in Cambridgshire, the contaminations with the creed of the dominant religion are inevitable
2) this sweet and fresh cream in a glass is a typically Elizabethan vintage-style drink-dessert still popular in the Victorian era, the Syllabub. The Mayers once offered “a syllabub of hot milk directly from the cow, sweet cakes and wine” (The James Frazer Gold Branch). And so I went to browse to find the historical recipe: it is a milk shake, wine (or cider or beer) sweetened and perfumed with lemon juice. The lemon juice served to curdle the milk so that it would form a cream on the surface, over time the recipe has become more solid, ie a cream with the whipped cream flavored with liqueur or sweet wine (see recipes) 

Philip Mercier (1680-1760) – The Sense of Taste: in the background a tray full of syllabus glasses

3) the reference to the dew is not accidental, the tradition of May provides a bath in the dew and in the wild waters full of rain. The night is the magic of April 30 and the dew was collected by the girls and kept as a panacea able to awaken the beauty of women!! (see Beltane)

Shirley Collins  live 2002, same tune of Cambridgeshire May Carol (not completely transcribed)

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY CAROL
I
A branch of may, so fine and gay
And before your door it stands.
It’s but a sprout, it’s well-budded out, for the work of our Lord’s hand(1).
II
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And take the May Bush in,
For if it is gone before morning come
You’ll say we have never been.
III
I have a little bird(?)
?…
IV
If not a cup of your cold cream (2)
A jug of your stout ale
And if we live to tarry in the town
We’ll call on you another year.
V(3)
For the life of a man it is but a span
he’s cut down like the flower
We’re here today, tomorrow we’re gone,
We’re dead all in one hour.
VI
The moon shine bright,
the stars give a light
A little before this day
so please to remember ….
And send you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady..
2) Syllabub (see above)
3) the stanza derives from “The Moon Shine Bright” version published by William Sandys in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) see

NORTHILL MAY SONG

Magpie Lane from “Jack-in-the-Green” 1998 ( I, II, III e IX) with The Cuckoo’s Nest hornpipe (vedi)  
The song is reproposed in the Blog “A Folk song a Week”   edited by Andy Turner himself in which Andy tells us he had learned the song from the collection of Fred Hamer “Garners Gay”
Fred collected it from “Chris Marsom and others” – Mr Marsom had by that time emigrated to Canada, but Fred met him on a visit to his native Northill, Bedfordshire. Fred’s notes say “The Day Song is much too long for inclusion here and the Night Song has the same tune. It was used by Vaughan Williams as the tune for No. 638 of the English Hymnal, but he gave it the name of “Southill” because it was sent to him by a Southill man. Chris Marsom who sang this to me had many tales to tell of the reception the Mayers had from some of the ladies who were strangers to the village and became apprehensive at the approach of a body of men to their cottage after midnight on May Eve.”

Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick from “Because It’s There” 1995, ♪ (track 2 May Song)
Martin Carthy writes in the sleeve notes “May Song came from a Cynthia Gooding record which I lost 16 years ago, words stuck in my head.” (from II to VIII)

MAY SONG
I
Arise, arise, my pretty fair maids,
And take our May bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
II
We have been rambling all of the night,
The best(and most) part of this day;
And we are returning here back again
And we’ve brought you a garland gay (brunch of May).
III
A brunch of May we bear about(it does looked gay)
Before the (your) door it stands;
It is but a sprout and it’s all budded out
And it’s the work of God’s own hand.
IV
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maid,
To take the May bush in.
For it will be gone and tomorrow morn
And you will have none within.
V
The heavenly gates are open wide
To let escape the dew(1).
It makes no delay it is here today
And it falls on me and you.
VI
For the life of a man is but a span,
He’s cut down like the flower;
He makes no delay he is here today
And he’s vanished all in an hour.
VII
And when you are dead and you’re in your grave
You’re covered in the cold cold clay.
The worms they will eat your flesh good man
And your bones they will waste away.
VIII
My song is done and I must be gone,
I can no longer stay.
God bless us all both great and small
And wish us a gladsome May.
IX
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) according to the previous religion, water received more power from the Beltane sun. Celts made pilgrimages to the sacred springs and with the spring water they sprinkled the fields to favor the rain.

Kerfuffle from “To the Ground”, 2008

ARISE, ARISE (Northill May Song)
I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And bring your May Bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow, morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
II
We have been wandering all this night
And almost all of the day
And now we’re returning back again;
We’ve brought you a branch of May.
III
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It’s nothing but a sprout but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hand.
IV
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

victorian-art-artist-painting-print-by-myles-birket-foster-first-of-may-garland-day

LINK
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/maysong.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/themoonshinesbright.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/cambridgeshiremaycarol.html
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/NonChristmas/bedfordshire_may_day_carol.htm
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/moon_shines_bright.htm
http://ingeb.org/songs/themoons.html
https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/week-36-northill-may-song/

Carole di Primavera nel Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire

Read the post in English

CAMBRIDGESHIRE MAY CAROL
MELODIA: ARISE, ARISE

La melodia è conosciuta come “Arise, arise” e le carols di Cambridgeshire e Bedfordshire sono molto simili, anche nei testi.

Ruth Barrett & Cyntia Smith in   “Music of the Rolling World” (1982) mi piace molto l’incedere processionale cadenzato dal tamburo

CAMBRIDGE MAY SONG
I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids
And take your May Bush in
For if it is gone before tomorrow morn
You would say we have brought you none.
II
All through the night before daylight
There fell the dew and rain.
It sparkles bright on the May Bush white;
It glistens on the plain.
III
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
as green as grass can be.
Our Heavenly Mother watereth them
With her heavenly dew so sweet (1).
IV
A branch of May we’ll bring to you
As at your door we stand.
It’s not but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The work of Our Lady’s hand.
V
Our song is done,
it’s time we were gone
We can no longer stay.
We bless you all, both great and small
And we send you a joyful May.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Alzati, dolce fanciulla,
a prendere lo Spino del Maggio,
che all’alba di domani tutto finisce
e potresti dire che non te lo abbiamo portato.
II
Per tutta la notte prima dell’alba,
cade la rugiada e la pioggia.
Brilla luminosa sul bianco dello Spino di Maggio,
luccica sulla piana.
III
Siepi e campi stanno diventano così verdi
come verde deve essere l’erba.
Nostra Signora li innaffia con la dolce rugiada dei Cieli.
IV
Un ramo del Maggio vi porteremo, appena passiamo davanti alla vostra porta,
non è in germoglio, ma è ben sbocciato per mano della Nostra Signora.
V
La canzone è finita
ed è tempo di andare,
non possiamo restare più a lungo.
Siate benedetti, grandi e piccini
e vi auguriamo un felice Maggio!

NOTE
1) Questa carol lascia intravedere, tra gli omaggi tributati alla Vergine Maria, alcuni rituali pre-cristiani praticati a Calendimaggio: oltre al ramo del Maggio anche il bagno nella rugiada e nelle acque selvatiche ricche di pioggia. La notte è quella magica del 30 aprile e la rugiada raccolta costituiva un vero e proprio toccasana in grado di risvegliare la bellezza femminile!

Shirley Collins, Cambridgeshire May Carol


I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids,
And take your May bush in,
For if that is gone before tomorrow morn/ You would say we had brought you none.
II
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
As green as grass can be;
Our heavenly father watereth them/With his heavenly dew so sweet..
III
I have got a little purse in my pocket
That’s tied with a silken string;
And all that it lacks is a little of your gold
To line it well within.
IV
Now the clock strikes one,
it’s time we are gone,
We can no longer stay;
So please to remember our money, money box
And God send you a joyful May.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Alzati, dolce fanciulla,
a prendere lo Spino del Maggio,
che all’alba di domani tutto finisce
e potresti dire che non te lo abbiamo portato.
II
Siepi e campi stanno diventano così verdi
come verde deve essere l’erba.
Nostro Signore(2) li innaffia
con la dolce rugiada dei Cieli.
IV
Ho una borsello in tasca
chiuso da una corda di seta
e quello che gli manca è un po’ del tuo oro
da far tintinnare all’interno
IV
Ora l’orologio batte l’una
ed è tempo di andare,
non possiamo restare più a lungo
così vi preghiamo di ricordarvi della nostra scarsella dei soldi
e che Dio vi mandi un felice Maggio

draft_lens18966079module155701739photo_1323457372Kate_Greenaway_-_May_day

CAMBRIDGE MAY GARLAND SONG

Raccolta nel 1900 nella zona di  Peterborough
Mary Humphreys


I
Good  morning, lords and ladies,
It is the first of May;
I hope you’ll view the garland,
For it looks so very gay.
(refrain)  
To the greenwood we will go.
II
I’m  very glad to spring as come
The sun is shine so bright
The little birds upon the threes
Are singing with delight
III
The  cuckoo(1) sings in April,
The cuckoo sings in May,
The cuckoo sings in June,
In July she flies away.
IV
The  roads are very dusty
The shoes are very thin
We have a little money-box
To put a money in
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Buon giorno signori e signore
è il primo di Maggio
spero darete un’occhiata alla ghirlanda
perchè sembra proprio così allegra
Ritornello
Nel bosco andremo
II
Sono molto contento che la primavera sia giunta, il sole brilla così luminoso
gli uccellini sugli alberi
stanno cantando con allegria
III
Il cuculo canta ad Aprile
il cuculo canta a Maggio
il cuculo canta a Giugno
e a Luglio vola via.
IV
Le strade sono molto polverose
e le scarpe leggere
abbiamo una piccola scatola
per metterci i soldi

FONTE: Fred Hamer: Garners Gay (1967)
“La Signora Johnstone [Margery “Mum” Johnstone] ha imparato questa carol da sua nonna che proveniva da Carlton e sembra sia stata  popolare in alcuni villaggi vicini al Northamptonshire border. La stessa melodia con parole simili è diffusa in tutto il sud-est del Midlands

Lorraine Nelson Wolf (Bedford carol) 


I
Good   morning lords and ladies
it is the first of May,
We hope you’ll view our garland
it is so bright and gay
REFRAIN
For it is the first of May,
oh it is the first of May,
Remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May.
II
We gathered them this morning
all in the early dew,
And now we bring their beauty
and fragrance all for you
III
The cuckoo comes in April,
it sings its song in May,
In June it changes tune,
in July it flies away
IV
And now you’ve seen our garland
we must be on our way,
So remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Buon giorno signori e signore
è il primo di Maggio
spero darete un’occhiata alla nostra ghirlanda
perchè sembra così bella e allegra
Ritornello
Perchè è il primo di Maggio
ricordate signori e signore
che è il primo di Maggio
II
Li abbiamo raccolti questa mattina
ancora umidi di rugiada
e ora portiamo la loro bellezza
e tutta la loro fragranza a voi
III
Il cuculo arriva ad Aprile
e canta la sua canzone a Maggio
a Giugno cambia la sua melodia
e a Luglio vola via.
IV
E adesso che avete visto la nostra ghirlanda
dobbiamo andare per la nostra strada
così ricordate signori e signore
che è il primo Maggio

CHESHIRE MAY-DAY CAROL

Anche conosciuta con il titolo “The Sweet Month of May” è una canzone diffusa nel Cheshire. Il testo presenta molte analogie con la Swinton May song alla quale si rimanda per il confronto vedi

The Wilson Family


I
All on this pleasant morning, together come are we,
To tell you of a blossom that hangs on every tree.
We have stayed up all evening to welcome in the day,
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.
II
Rise up the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
And turn unto your mistress, so comely to behold.
Rise up the mistress of this house, with gold upon your breast,
And if your body be asleep, we hope your souls are dressed.
III
Oh rise up Mister Wilbraham, all joys to you betide.
Your horse is ready saddled, a-hunting for to ride.
Your saddle is of silver, your bridle of the gold,
Your wife shall ride beside you, so lovely to behold.
IV
Oh rise up Mister Edgerton and take your pen in hand,
For you’re a learned scholar, as we do understand.
Oh rise up Mrs. Stoughton, put on your rich attire,
For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire.
V
Oh rise up the good housekeeper, put on your gown of silk,
And may you have a husband good, with twenty cows to milk.
And where are all the pretty maids that live next door to you?
Oh they have gone to bathe themselves, all in the morning dew.
VI
God bless your house and arbour, your riches and your store.
We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and ever more.
So now we’re going to leave you,
in peace and plenty here,
We shall not sing this song again, until another year.
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
In questa piacevole giornata tutti insieme siamo venuti
per dirvi dei boccioli che pendono su ogni albero,
siamo restati svegli tutta la notte per salutare il giorno
brava gente, grandi e piccini
è il primo di Maggio
II
Alzatevi, padrone di questa casa mettetevi la catena d’oro,
e voltatevi verso la vostra signora così piacevole da vedersi
Alzatevi, padrona di questa casa con la spilla d’oro al petto, e se il vostro corpo è addormentato speriamo che la vostre anime siano vestite
III
Alzatevi Mister Wilbraham che la gioia sia con voi
il vostro cavallo è ben sellato pronto per andare a caccia
la vostra sella è d’argento e le briglie sono dorate
vostra moglie cavalcherà al vostro fianco così piacevole da vedersi
IV
Alzatevi Mister Edgerton e prendete in mano la penna
perchè voi siete un erudito, come ben sappiamo
alzatevi signora Stoughton indossate i vostri ricchi abiti perchè ogni capello sul vostro capo brilla come un filo d’argento
V
Alzatevi buona massaia, mettetevi il vostro abito di seta
che possiate avere un buon marito con una ventina di mucche da latte.
E dove sono tutte le belle fanciulle che vivono nella porta accanto?
Sono andate a prendere il bagno nella rugiada del mattino
VI
Dio benedica questa casa e il pergolato,
i vostri beni e il negozio
che il Signore vi dia prosperità adesso e per sempre.
Cpsì adesso vi lasciamo,
in pace e abbondanza
non canteremo il Maggio fino al prossimo anno,
brava gente, grandi e piccini,
è il primo di maggio

ESSEX

Così molte carols sono state cristianizzate, spostando l’omaggio alle divinità antiche verso Dio e la Madonna, come nei prossimi esempi. Questi versi sono stati anche documentati sui giornali dell’epoca, ad esempio nella parrocchia di Debden e nel villaggio di Saffron Walden in Essex si cantava:
I
‘I been a rambling all this night,
And sometime of this day;
And now returning back again,
I brought you a garland gay.
II
A garland gay I brought you here,
And at your door I stand;
‘Tis nothing but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The works of our Lord’s hand.
III
So dear, so dear as Christ loved us,
And for our sins was slain,
Christ bids us turn from wickedness,
And turn to the Lord again.’

Ogni verso a volte era intervallato anche da un ritornello:
‘Why don’t you do as we have done,
The very first day of May;
And from my parents I have come,
And would no longer stay.’

Jean Ritchie

I
I’ve been a-wandering all the night
And the best part of the day
Now I’m returning home again
I bring you a branch of May
II
A branch of May,
I’ll bring you my love,
Here at your door I stand
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of the Lord’s own hand
III(1)
In my pocket I’ve got a purse
Tied up with a silver string
All that I do need is a bit of silver
To line it well within
IV
My song is done
and I must be gone
I can no longer stay
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Ho vagato per tutta la notte
e per buona parte del giorno
e sono di ritorno ancora qui
per portarvi il ramo del Maggio
II
Un ramo del Maggio,
vi porterò il mio affetto
sono qui alla vostra porta
non è in germoglio, ma è ben sbocciato
per il lavoro di nostro Signore
III
Ho una borsello in tasca
chiuso da una corda d’argento
e quello che gli manca è un po’ d’argento
da far tintinnare all’interno
IV
La canzone è finita
ed è tempo di andare,
non posso restare più a lungo
Dio benedica grandi e piccini
e vi mandi un felice Maggio

NOTE
1) la strofa è a volte preceduta da questa
Take a bible in your hand
And read a chapter through
And when the day of judgment comes
The Lord will think of you

così è riportato nel “Nooks and Corners of English Life, Past and Present”, John Timbs, 1867: “A Saffron Walden, e nel villaggio di Debden, una vecchia canzone di Calendimaggio è ancora cantata dalle bambine, che festeggiano portando le  ghirlande di porta in porta. Le ghirlande  sono talvolta grandi e belle, e una bambola di solito è posta al centro, vestita di bianco, così come vuole la tradizione: questa bambola rappresenta la Vergine Maria ed è una reliquia dell’epoca del Cattolicesimo “.

HERTFORDSHIRE

William Hone nel suo “The Every Day Book “, descrive in una lettera datata 1 maggio 1823 i mummers del May Day a Hitchin che allietano i passanti con le loro danze: sono “Moll la pazza” e il marito (con la faccia annerita dal fumo e vestiti di stracci, “lei” che impugna un grosso mestolo e lui una scopa), “il Signore e la Signora” ( vestiti di bianco e ornati da nastri e sgargianti fazzoletti, con il signore che impugna una spada) e altre cinque-sei coppie di danzatori più svariati musicisti- sono tutti uomini perchè alle signore non era permesso mescolarsi ai mummers, ballano fanno smorfie, inseguono il pubblico con la scopa e fanno ridere gli spettatori.

Sempre William Hone ci racconta che i mayers andavano di casa in casa a portare il maggio già alle prime luci del giorno (a partire dalle 3 del mattino) cantando la “Mayer’s Song.”  e William Chappell in  The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1859 trascrive anche la melodia, più o meno la stessa di “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Hitchin May Day Song

I
‘Remember us poor Mayers all,
And thus we do begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
II
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.
III
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hands.
IV
The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek,
Our Heavenly Father he watered them
With heavenly dew so sweet.
V
The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And, if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.
VI
The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in one hour.
VII
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May!’

ASCOLTA Sedayne, The Heavenly Gates (a may carol)

non proprio gli stessi versi, mancano alcune strofe
I
We’ve been rambling all the night, the best part of this day,
we are returning here back again to bring you a garland gay.
II
A bunch of May we bare about, before the door it stands;
it is but a sprout but it’s well budded out; it is the work of God’s own hands.
III
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maids, and take the may bush in –
for it will be gone e’er tomorrow morn and you will have none within.
IV
The heavenly gates are open wide to let escape the dew;
it makes no delay, it is here today & it forms on me & you.
V
The life of a man is but a span, he’s cut down like the flower;
he makes no delay, he is here today & he’s vanished all in an hour
VI
And when you are dead & you’re in your grave, all covered with the cold cold clay,
the worms they will eat your flesh good man & your bones they will waste away.
VII
My song is done I must be gone, I can no longer stay;
God bless us all both great & small & wish us a gladsome May.

FONTI

http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/may/1.htm
http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/b/bedford.html http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=32490 http://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/maysong.html https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/themoonshinesbright.html
http://www.cbladey.com/mayjack/maysong.html http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/ NonChristmas/bedfordshire_may_day_carol.htm http://folkopedia.efdss.org/images/ 7/73/1908_32_Bedfordshire_May_Day_Carol.pdf
http://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/week-36-northill-may-song/ http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59752
http://piereligion.org/maydaysongs.html
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/Hone/may_day_at_hitchin.htm

http://spellerweb.net/cmindex/Cornish/Valentine.pdf
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=110990