Stories

As I was a-walking one fine summer’s morn,
So soft was the wind and the waves on the corn.
I met a pretty damsel upon a grey mare,
And she was a-riding along to Horn Fair.

“Now take me up behind you fair maid for to ride”,
“Oh no and then, oh no, for my mammy she would chide.
And then my dear old daddy would beat me full sore,
And never let me ride on his grey mare no more.”

“If you would see the Horn Fair you must go on your way,
I will not let you ride on my grey mare today.
You’d rumple all my muslin and uncurl my hair,
And leave me all distrest to be seen at Horn Fair.”

“O fairest of damsels, how can you say No?
With you I do intend to Horn Fair for to go.
We’ll join the best of company when we do get there,
With horns on their heads, boys, the finest at the Fair.”

“They are the finest horns that you ever did behold
The finest of horns and they’re gilded all with gold
So merrily, right merrily, to the Horn Fair we will go
Like jolly brisk couples and all in a row.”

As I walked out one May morning
Down by the riverside,
There I beheld a bold fisherman
Come a-rowing with the tide,
Come a-rowing with the tide;
There I beheld a bold fisherman
Come a-rowing with the tide.

Good morning to you, bold fisherman,
How came you fishing here?”
“I came here a fishing for your sweet sake
All on this river clear,
All on this river clear;
I came here a fishing for your sweet sake
All on this river clear.”

He lashed his boat unto a stake
And to this lady went,
He took her by the lilywhite hand
Which was his full intent,
Which was his full intent;
He took her by the lilywhite hand
Which was his full intent.

He then unfolded his morning gown
And so gently laid it down.
There she beheld three chains of gold
Hang a-dangling three times round,
Hang a-dangling three times round;
There she beheld three chains of gold
Hang a-dangling three times round.

She then fell on her bended knees
And so loud for mercy called,
“In calling you a bold fisherman,
I fear you are some lord,
I fear you are some lord
In calling you a bold fisherman,
I fear you are some lord.”

“Rise up rise up rise up,” said he,
“From off your bended knees.
There is not one word that you have said
That has offended me,
That has offended me;
There is not one word that you have said
That has offended me.”

“I will take you to my father’s house
And married you shall be.”

Then you will have a bold fisherman
To row you on the sea,
To row you on the sea;
Then you will have a bold fisherman
To row you on the sea.

O, don’t you remember, a long time ago,
Those two little babies, their names I don’t know,
they wandered away one bright summer’s day,
those two little babies got lost on their way.

Chorus
Pretty babes in the wood, pretty babes in the wood,
O, don’t you remember those babes in the wood.

Now the day being done and the night coming on,
those two little babies sat under a stone,
They sobbed and they sighed, they sat there and cried,
Those two little babies they lay down and died.

Now the robins so red how swiftly they sped,
They put out their wide wings and over them spread.
And all the day long in the branches they throng,
They sweetly did whistle and this was their song.

Chorus
Five and twenty ponies trotting though the dark
Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy
Watch the wall my darling, while the Gentlemen go by.

If you wake at midnight and hear a horse’s feet
Don’t go drawing back the blinds nor looking in the street
Them that asks no questions, isn’t told a lie
Watch the wall my darling, while the Gentlemen go by.

Chorus
Playing round the woodlump, if you chance to find
Little barrels roped and tarred, full of brandy wine
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use them for your play
Put the brushwood back again and they’ll be gone next day.

Chorus

If you see a stable-door setting open wide
If you see a tired horse lying down inside
If your mother mends a coat all cut about and tore
If the linings wet and warm, don’t you ask no more.

Chorus

If you see King George’s men dressed in blue and red
You be careful what you say and mindful what is said
If they call you “pretty maid” and chuck you ‘neath the chin
Don’t you tell where no one is nor yet where no one’s been

Chorus

The next verse is often left out from the song
Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark
Trusty’s here and Pincher’s here and see how dumb they lie
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by

Chorus

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France
With a cape of warmest wool (or valenciennes) and a velvet hood
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good.

Chorus

Don’t go outside when the witch is about, sure you’ll be cursed and your hair will fall out
Eyes will grow dim as the evening draws in, the dogs will be
a-howling.
A curse on our crops, a spell on our kine, milk is all soured, the sheep are all lame,
Be a-feared for your children; make well sure, they keep to home and fireside.

Chorus
The witch’s power is dark and strong
Your new-born babe may not live long

Evil’s about in the long dark nights, the flittermice feed on flesh or gore,
The moon is as full as an old man’s face, the witch she goes a-roaming.
Our wheat has all died, the barley is black, no ears on our corn, our rye is flat,
Our hens won’t lay and the geese have flown, the ducks are all a-drowning.

Chorus
The witch’s power is dark and strong
Your new-born babe may not live long

The Priest will call the demons within and cast them down to ‘the Shades below’,
He’ll drive the witch from our hearths and homes to bring us retribution.
Let’s take the witch to the gibbet or the pyre and load on the stakes ever higher and higher,
Or down to the lake where the stool awaits and the truth will be revealing.

Long before you knew me, I lived far away,
Where the sun never sets in the middle of the day.
Just at the dusk mummy’d turn out the light,
And I’d listen to my Daddy a’whistlin’ in the night.

I’d watch the big red sun up in the golden sky,
I’d wait for that old dream bound train to go a whistling by.
Then I’d close my eyes and know, my dreams could not begin,
Just because my Daddy hadn’t whistled the night in.

He’d stand up by the window and look up at the sun,
And I knew that he was thinking is it time our day was done.
In his eyes my dreams would start as he looked at the fading light,
Then he’d turn my way and smile and start whistling in the night.

I’d watch the moonlight flood the purple of the sky,
I’d hear the rails a humming, that train was going by.
Then I’d close my eyes and know, my dreams could now begin,
Just because my Daddy was a’whistling the night in.

Now I am Saint George and a God-fearing man,
I fight for Old England whenever I can,
With a banner in battle all foes to defy
Let “The Cross and Saint George” be your battle cry.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And on my breast a red, red rose,
The flower of England wherever she grows.

With courage and valour I act out my days,
I seek for no honour, I ask for no praise.
My only desire is to handle the sword
And that England may flourish is all my reward.

Now I fought with the dragon and brought him to shame,
I was killed seven times but I still fought again.
I was killed seven times but it did me no ill
And God being willing I’ll fight again still.

In the cause of all freedom my banner shall wave,
The oppressed and downtrodden my sword it shall save.
And kindle the hearts of all true-living men
That the victory be ours at the final Amen.

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The songs provided are for enjoyment and learning purposes. Please note that these versions are not definitive; there are so many wonderful versions 'out there'. Please share your versions with us...

Welcome to the South Downs Music website; a platform enabling users to access folk songs from, and sung in, the Sussex area.

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