Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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580                                 ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
" 0, these are the harvest men; ten to one they sing a song of mowing." However, they sing one of sowing,—" Lo, here we come a sowing, a sowing;" and, in another part of the play,— " Lo, here we come a reaping, a reaping,          And thus we pass the year so long,
To reap our harvest fruit!                           And never be me mute."
In Nashe's Summer's last Will and Testament (printed in 1600), Harvest enters " with a scythe on his neck, and all his reapers with sickles, and a great black bowl with a posset in it, borne before him." They come in singing, and this is their song:— " Merry, merry, merry ; cheary, cheary,          Hooky, JiooTty, we have shorn,
Trowl the black bowl to me; [eheary;              And me have bound,
Hey, derry, derry ; with a poup and a          And we have brought Harvest
I'll trowl it again to thee :        [leary ;              Home to town."
The editor of Dodsley's Old Plays (ix. 41,1825), remarks that the above was probably " a harvest-home song, usually sung by reapers in the country;" and that " the chorus or burden, ' Hooky, hooky,' &c, is still heard in some parts of the kingdom, with this variation :—
' Hooky, hooky, we have shorn,            And we have brought the harvest home,
And bound what we did reap ;            To make bread good and cheap.'"
The ceremony of an English harvest-home is thus described by Hentzner, who travelled through England (as well as through Germany, France, and Italy) towards the close of the sixteenth century, and published his Itinerarium in 1598: —"As we were returning to our inn" (at Windsor), "we happened to meet some country people celebrating their harvest-home: Their last load of corn they crown with flowers, having besides an image richly dressed, by which they would perhaps signify Ceres; this they keep moving about, while men and women, men and maid servants, riding through the streets in the cart, shout as loud as they can till they arrive at the barn." Dr. Moresin, another foreigner, who published, in the reign of James I., an elaborate work on the " Origin and Increase of Depravity in Religion," relates that he saw " in England the country people bringing home, In a cart from the harvest field, a figure made of corn, round which men and women were promiscuously, singing, preceded by a piper and a drum." Some­times, instead of a figure made of corn, a young girl was dressed as the Harvest Queen, being crowned with flowers, a sheaf of corn placed under her arm, and a sickle in her hand, and so drawn along. Another crown of flowers was placed upon the head of the most expert reaper.
The harvest festivities are described by Dr. Drake, in his Shahspeare and his Times, as " a scene not only remarkable for merriment and hospitality, but for a temporary suspension of all inequality between master and man." The whole family sat down at the same table, and conversed, danced, and sang together during the entire night, without difference or distinction of any kind; and in many places, indeed, this freedom of manner subsisted during the whole period of getting in the harvest. Thus Tusser, recommending the social equality of the harvest-tide, exclaims,—







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III