Ballads and Songs of Indiana - online book

A collection of 100 traditional folk songs with commentaries, historical info, lyrics & sheet music

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354 Indiana University Publications, Folklore Series
94 THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
This is an ancient English carol, and the only specimen of that type of folksong recovered in this state. The earliest version is to be found, as Professor Gerould points out (The Ballad of Tradition, p. 34), in the same manuscript, MS Trin. Coll., Cambridge, B.14.39, as the thirteenth-century "Judas" and in the same handwriting. It bears there the title "Twelfth Day." In olden times in England there was a twelve-day period of merry-making during the Christmas season, and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" recounts the gifts given by the lover to his sweetheart on the twelve successive days.
Other texts, American and British, appear in Journal, XIII, 230; XVIII, 57; XXX, 365; XLVI, 46; Folk-Lore Journal, VII, 244; Henderson, Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Border, p. 71; Flanders and Brown, p. 86; JFSS, V, 277; Gardner, Folklore from the Scoharie Hills, p. 198. One version is given as a rhyme in Bialoideas, III, 413.
Gomme, The Traditional Games . . ., II, gives four versions: I from Hallrwell, Nursery Rhymes, cccxlvi; II from Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p. 42; III from an oral source; and IV from Halliwell, op. cit, cvi, cclxxx. In III the song is part of a forfeit game.
The Flanders and Brown version I give below as B,
A
"A Christmas Song." Communicated by Mrs. Bufus Bass, of Oakland City, Indiana. Gibson County. Learned from her father, Mr. John Bilder-back, in Wayne County, Illinois, near Mount Airy. August 3,1935.
The twelfth day of Christmas
Truly1 sent me
Twelve goats milking,
Eleven bears bleating,2
Ten bulls roaring,
Nine maids dancing,
Eight lads leaping,
Seven swans swimming,
Six geese laying,
Five gold rings,
Four collie3 birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
A partridge in a pear tree.
*For tnw&ove,
*A xnbc-tip here!
* Probably for colored. Of. B.








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