1. Cakes and Ale; We'll Wed and We'll Bed, Stepney Cakes and Ale
2. The Bitter Withy; The bitter withy; The mermaid
3. Hankin Booby;
4. Hunt the Squirrel; Hunt the squirrel; The tuneful nightingale
5. Lord Melbourne; Epping Forest; Lord Melbourne
1. Cakes and Ale.
The first of the five movements, Cakes and Ale, is a scherzo, marked fast and rough and making apt use of percussion. It treats two tunes, We’ll Wed and Stepney Cakes and Ale. The suite was Britten’s last orchestral work, and there is a certain poignancy in the epigraph from Thomas Hardy, ‘A time there was, before the birth of consciousness, when all went well‘, words set by Britten in the last song of his Hardy cycle Winter Words.
We'll Wed and We'll Bed (Playford, 1706, p.104)
Stepney Cakes and Ale, Found in Playford2: (Playford, 1706, p.144)
Cakes and Ale
This catch by Henry Purcell was sung a cappella by Maddy Prior and June Tabor for their second Silly Sisters album, No More to the Dance. The track was also included in 1990 on the June Tabor anthology Aspects.
I gave her cakes and I gave her ale
And I gave her sack and sherry
I kissed her once and I kissed her twice
And we were wond'rous merry
I gave her beads and bracelets fine
And I gave her gold down derry
I thought she was afear'd till she stroak'd my beard
And we were wond'rous merry
Merry me hearts, merry me cocks, merry me sprites
Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry me hey down derry
I kissed her once and I kissed her twice
And we were wond'rous merry
2. The Bitter Withy
The bitter withy / Our Saviour tarried out (FSJ Vol.II (No.8, 1906), p.205.
The mermaid, from JFSS III/10 (1907), p. 47
The Bitter Withy is an English folk song reflecting an unusual and apocryphal vernacular idea of Jesus Christ. The withy of the title is the Willow and song gives an explanation as to why the willow tree rots from the centre out, rather than the outside in. The song is given an update in a recent recording by the renowned British folk artist, John Tams on his acclaimed album 'The Reckoning' (2005; won 2006 the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for the 'Best Album') and is contained in 'The Definitive Collection' (2007) also.
The Bitter Withy
3. Hankin Booby top page
Tunes from Playford, 1651:
'Mage on a cree', p. 20
'Hankin booby' (or 'Half hannikin'), p. 43
4. Hunt the Squirrel top page
Hunt the squirrel, from CDB, set 11
The tuneful nightingale, from Playford, 1706, p. 303.
5. Lord Melbourne top pageLord Melbourne (Duke Of Marlborough)
Lincolnshire Posy this is categorized as "'Lord Melbourne' (War Song),"
where it is given a fanfare-like, almost arhythmic treatment. The song
is better known as Lord Marlborough, to whom it properly refers. John
Churchill (1650-1722), 1st Duke of Marlborough, soldier and statesman,
is perhaps best known for his "glorious victories" against the French at
Blenheim and Ramillies. He was a meticulous planner, and was also known
for his consideration of the welfare of his soldiers, which is perhaps
why he became so popular in balladry. He was also an ancestor of Winston
Churchill, whose elder brother Charles became the 9th Duke of
Marlborough in 1892.
I am an Englishman to my birth, Lord Melbourne is my name;
In Devonshire I first drew breath, that place of noble fame.
I was beloved by all my men, by kings and princes likewise.
I never failed in anything, but won great victories.
Then good Queen Anne sent us on board, to Flanders we did go,
We left the banks of Newfoundland to face our daring foe.
We climbed those lofty hills straightway, with broken guns, shields likewise,
And all those famous towns we took, to all the world's surprise.
King Charles the Second we did reserve, to face our foemen French,
And to the battle of Ramillies we boldly did advance.
The sun was down, the earth did shake, and I so loud did cry,
"Fight on, my lads, for old England's sake, we'll gain the field, or die."
And now this glorious victory's won, so boldly keep the field,
When prisoners in great numbers took, which forced our foe to yield.
That very day my horse was shot all by a cannonball,
As soon as I got up again, my aide-de-camp, he did fall.
Now on a bed of sickness lie, I am resigned to die,
You generals all and champions bold, stand true as well as I.
Stand to your men, take them on board, and fight with courage bold,
I've led my men through smoke and fire, but now to death must yield.
13. Lord Melbourne: A Folk song variant
Lisbon (Dublin Bay)
Rufford Park Poachers
The Brisk Young Sailor
The Lost Lady Found[See also separate entry for choral setting, below. (Ed.)]
Sometimes a song just goes wrong, much of its original meaning and detail lost and misconstrued by singers' memory. "Lord Melbourne" is a case in point. Percy Grainger collected the song from George Wray of Barton upon Humber on 28 July 1906 and made a phonograph recording in May 1908.
Somewhere along the line, someone has been let down by a poor grasp of post Restoration Stuart history or perhaps Wray was just struggling with his aging memory.
The song is actually about Lord Marlborough. However, George Wray's variant refers to Lord Melbourne, most likely the Victorian Prime Minister. Perhaps he may have recollected the name from his childhood.
The variant sung by Wray has a string of misinterpretations including "aide de campe" as "head in camp", "Battle of Ramillies" as "Battle of Elements" and "our foes in France" as "all foaming French"
Despite realising this song to be Lord Marlborough, Grainger maintained the name Lord Melbourne for his arrangement in "Lincolnshire Posy". Perhaps he was amused by the name Melbourne, given that his home town was Melbourne, Australia.
Cecil James Sharp (22 November 1859 – 23 June 1924) was the founding father
of the folk-song revival in England in the early 20th century.
Sharp felt that English music had become over-dominated by German influences, and wanted to revive melodies with native roots. He listened to hundreds of village folk-singers, and arranged their songs for piano and choir. He promoted Morris dancing, which had almost died out, though he often had to tone-down the lyrics for public performance and instruction in schools. In 1911 he founded the English Folk Dance Society.
The new celebration of folk-music attracted political controversy, with some commentators claiming that it artificially romanticised village life, while others pointed out that the working class had actively embraced Music Hall as the expression of popular song.
Voetnoten. top page
Het gedicht spreekt in een bijbelse metafoor: we moeten in de derde regel bij 'the birth of consciousness' meteen denken aan de zondeval.
Title: Before Life And After
Author: Thomas Hardy [More Titles by Hardy]
A time there was--as one may guess
And as, indeed, earth's testimonies tell -
Before the birth of consciousness,
When all went well.
None suffered sickness, love, or loss,
None knew regret, starved hope, or heart-burnings;
None cared whatever crash or cross
Brought wrack to things.
If something ceased, no tongue bewailed,
If something winced and waned, no heart was wrung;
If brightness dimmed, and dark prevailed,
No sense was stung.
But the disease of feeling germed,
And primal rightness took the tinct of wrong;
Ere nescience shall be reaffirmed
How long, how long?
The poet muses about the glory and innocence of the time before mankind was corrupted and asks how long it will be before the return to such a state.
3. Winter Words, Op. 52, is a song cycle for tenor and piano
by Benjamin Britten. Written in 1953, it sets eight poems by Thomas Hardy.
Winter Words is one of Britten's few compositions from the period after the
premiere of his opera Gloriana; its poems are from Hardy's last published
collection, having the same title. The cycle was premiered at the Leeds Festival
in October 1953, with Peter Pears singing and Britten at the piano. It was
dedicated to John and Myfanwy Piper. (Wikipedia)
"At Day-Close in November"
"Midnight on the Great Western" (or, "The Journeying Boy")
"Wagtail and Baby (A Satire)"
"The Little Old Table"
"The Choirmaster's Burial" (or, "The Tenor Man's Story")
"Proud Songsters (Thrushes, Finches and Nightingales)"
"At the Railway Station, Upway" (or, "The Convict and Boy with the Violin")
"Before Life and After"
4. top page
De Australische componist Percy Grainger (1882-1961) wordt vooal in de blaasorkesten-wereld nog veel gespeeld. Hij was ook een toegewijd verzamelaar van volksmuziek. Zijn Lincolnshire Posy (1937) voor concert band wordt wel beschouwd als zijn meesterwerk. Het zesdelige stuk is geheel gebaseerd op volksliederen die hij in Lincolnshire, England, had verzameld in 1905–1906. Het vijfde deel van Lincolnshire Posy is Lord Melbourne.
"Mr. George Wray (the singer of Lord Melbourne) had a worldlier, tougher and
more prosperously-coloured personality. He, too, was born at Barrow-on-Humber,
and was eighty years old when he sang to me in 1906. From the age of eight to
seventeen he worked in a brick yard, after which he went to sea as cook and
steward, learning some of his songs aboard ship. After that he again worked at a
brick yard, for forty years; and, later on again, he sold coals, taking them to
Barton, Barrow, Goxhill, etc ., in his own ship, and also carrying them round on
his back (in `scootles'), as much as twenty tons a day. This he did to the age
of seventy-three, and then he 'give over'. In his old age he enjoyed
independence, and said" 'And thaay saay (they say) a poor mahn 'ahsn't a chahnce!'
He used to be a great dancer. (Yet, in spite of this association with strict
rhythm, his singing was more irregular in rhythm than any I ever heard.) He took
a prize--a fine silver pencil--for dancing, at Barton, at t he age of
fifty-four, performing to the accompaniment of a fiddle, which he considered
'better than anything to dance to'. His brother was a 'left-handed' fiddler
(bowing with his left hand, fingering with his right). Mr. Wray held that
folksinging had be en destroyed by the habit of singing in church and chapel
choirs, and used to wax hot on this subject, and on the evils resultant upon
singing to the accompaniment of the piano. He was convinced that most folks
could keep their vigour as late in life as he had, if they did not overfeed.
"He lived alone, surrounded by evil-smelling cats. I asked him if he often went to town, and he answered: 'It's too temtatious for a mahn of my age!' A consciousness of snug, self-earned success underlay the jaunty contentment and skittishness of his renderings. His art shared the restless energy of his life. Some of his versions of tunes were fairly commonplace (not Lord Melbourne, however!), yet he never failed to invest them with a unique quaintness--by means of swift touches of swagger, heaps of added 'nonsense syllables', queer hollow vowel-sounds (doubtless due to his lack of teeth) and a jovial, jogging stick-to-it-iveness in performance. He had an amazing memory for the texts of his songs. Lord Melbourne (actually about the Du ke of Marlborough) is a genuine war-song--a thing rare in English folksong.
5.CDB: The country dance book, ed. Cecil Sharp (Novello, 1909-22)