Thursday, January 06, 2005

"Joy, health, love and peace...

...Be all here in this place
By your leave we will sing
Concerning our king

"Our king is well dressed
In the silks of the best
With the ribbons so rare
No king can compare

"We have travelled many miles
Over hedges and stiles
In search of our king
Unto you we bring

"We have powder and shot
For to conquer the lot
We have cannon and ball
To conquer them all

"Now Christmas is past
Twelve tide is the last
And we bid you adieu
Great joy to the new."

Albert Lancaster (Bert) Lloyd (1908-82) was an early leader in the British Isles folk song revival. In his volume Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy, he writes:

"A wren-boys carol, sung by groups of boys and young men, masked and disguised, who on St Stephen's Day (December 26) went from door to door carrying a hollybush on which was a dead wren, 'the king of the birds,' or something to represent it. This rare song came to the Watersons from Andy Nisbet, who got it from 'two old ladies in Pembrokeshire.'"

(Lyrics above transcribed from the singing of the Watersons by Garry Gillard.)

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