Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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in one of which the battle of Saint-Cast is celebrated, to­gether with two other repulses of English invaders of the Breton coast (at Camaret, in i486, and Guidel, in 1694). Concerning the encounter at Saint-Cast Villemarque ad­vances the theory that the singers were the French sol­diers, and that the reason why the Welshmen stopped in amazement was that they suspected treachery when they heard their own song. The point is of little consequence, but not so the melody which Villemarque prints as that to which the old ballad is sung. This, as it appears in "Bar-zaz-Breiz," is, note for note, the Welsh tune known as "Captain Morgan's March." The same melody is sung to another ballad describing the siege of Guingamp, which took place in 1488. Now, according to Welsh legend, the Morgan whose name is preserved in the ancient Rhyfel-gyrch Cadpen Morgan was "Captain of the Glamorganshire men, about the year 1294, who gallantly defended his country from the incursion of the Saxons and who dis­possessed the Earl of Gloucester of those lands which had formerly been taken from Morgan's forefathers." If the air is as old as that it may well be older still, and, indeed, may have been carried into ancient Armorica by the immi­grants from Great Britain who crossed the Channel in large numbers in the fifth and sixth centuries. Other relics of their earlier home besides those of language survive among the people of lower Brittany. Had the soldiers at Saint-Cast sat down together and regaled each other with hero legend and fairy tale they would have found that Arthur and Merlin and the korrigan (little fairies) were their common glory and delight. "King Arthur is not dead!"may be heard in Brittany to-day as often as in Cornwall. Moreover, the Welsh song which is sung to the tune of "Captain Morgan's March" and the Breton ballad "Emgann Sant-Kast"1 have one vigorous sentiment in common: "Cursed be the Saxon!"
1 See Appendix'
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