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Rushden Echo & Argus, 1947
May Day Music

Words and Music of age-old Carol

The Music

M AY DAY dances and songs have almost been reduced to book knowledge, yet, as the B.B.C. reminded us on Monday, there was a time when this part of the country had its own May Day carols.

The carol quoted in the B.B.C.'s "Musical Northamptonshire" feature was jotted down in 1905 by the late Mr. J. Enos Smith, who was then organist of Rushden St. Mary's Church and under whose direction dancing girls used to plait the May­pole.

It was sung both in Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire more than 70 years ago, and after hearing the radio version, a Rushden lady gave us the words and tune as she knew them when a girl.

Decked in ribbons and flowers, their "Queen" carrying the garland, the girls usually persuaded a boy to go round with them as collector! These are the verses they sang:

I have been wandering all the night!
And best part of the day,
And now I have returned back again
I have brought you a branch of May.

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 works of our Lord's hand.

The hedges and fields they are so green,
As green as any leek;
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet.

I have a bag upon my arm,
'Tis drawn with a silken string;
And all that it wants is a little silver
To line it well within.

Take a Bible in your hand
And read a chapter through,
And when the Day of Judgment comes
The Lord will think of you.

Give me a cup of your cold cream,
And a bowl of your brown beer,
And if I should live to tarry in the
I will call on you next year.

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