Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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The barley-mow is a song still well known in many of the counties of England. In Hertfordshire, it is frequently sung by the countrymen in ale-houses after their daily labour. Mr. J. H. Dixon prints a Suffolk version in his Songs of the Peasantry, and Mr. Sandys, the Devonshire and Cornwall version, in his Specimens of Garnish Provincial Dialect.
It is customarily chanted at the supper after the carrying of the barley is com­pleted, when the stack, rick, or mow of barley is finished.
The size of the drinking measure is doubled at each verse. The brown bowl is supposed to contain half-a-pint; the next is " We'll drink it out of the pint, my boys;" then the quart, pottle, and gallon, on to the barrel or hogshead, if the lungs of the singer enable him to hold out for so many verses. The words increase in number as the song goes on, for after " nipperkin, pipperkin," the singer adds one of the larger measures, pint, quart, pottle, &c, at each successive verse, always finishing (as in verse 1), " and the brown bowl."
This is after the manner of one of the Preemen's Songs in Deitteromelia, beginning " Give us once a drink, gentle butler," where the singers first ask for the black bowl, then the pint pot, quart pot, pottle, gallon, verkin (firkin), kilderkin, barrel, hogshead, pipe, butt, and finally the tun.

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