Esperance Morris Book vol 1 - online book

A Manual Of Morris Dances Folk-songs And Singing Games With Sheet Music And Instructions

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This is a game in which it is good to tell the children the drama which lies at the back of it. They should be told how in olden days a human sacrifice was laid at the foundation stone of every bridge, and how when London Bridge was broken down every suggestion for its re­building was known to be of no use until " the prisoner" was secured and accused of some crime. How, in less barbarous days, a ransom was accepted instead of the sacrifice. Once the children understand the world truth lying underneath this old-world story, and a mind picture is drawn for them, they will act it in exactly the right spirit. The actual formation of the game is as follows :—
Two of the bigger children join hands and raise them to the level of their heads to form a bridge. The other children take hands, two and two, raise them to about the level of the shoulder, hold out their skirts with the other hand, form a line, and with a little dancing step, one, two, three, and a little hop, go round and round each time under the " bridge " until the line is reached " Some one's stole my guinea gold chain," when the smallest child, who should lead the procession alone, dancing as in the coloured picture, is caught by the " bridge " and held, while the other children stand round in a ring singing the verse with gestures of consternation when the prisoner is caught and the accusation made of having stolen a chain. In the last verse " the bridge " walks away, still holding the prisoner, and the other children follow with bowed heads and mournful gestures. Or it can be played as directed on the music page.
side to the other with .in admonishing finger held up to the child next to them, first one side, then the other. At " When I had a husband," they walk round arm-in-arm chatting and looking very pleasant to one another, and so on to any number of verses.
This is another game illustrating courtship and marriage. The children divide into two sides and one side dances backwards and forwards saying, " Here we come up the green grass," etc. Then one of them says, " Will you come? " to a child on the opposite side. The first answer is " No." Then the inviting side sing " Naughty girl," etc. The invitation is given again, and this time the answer is " Yes." Then the child who said " yes " joins the first side, and they dance round in a ring, singing " Now we've got our bonny miss." The game then begins again and goes on until every child has joined the ring.
This game is a survival of an old marriage custom, and represents the exogamous marriage. Three children, who represent the dukes, prance backwards and forwards, singing " Here come three dukes a-riding." The other side, representing the maidens of another tribe or village, advance and retire singing " What is your good will, sirs?" And so on, each side singing alternate verses until the last is reached, " Through the kitchen," etc. Then the three dukes dance in front of the maidens, scrutinising them, finally choosing three, when the game begins all over again with " Six dukes," " Twelve dukes," until all the maidens are chosen.
This game gives great scope for dramatic action, as the " dukes " can express great scorn in singing " You're all as black as charcoal," and the maidens can be quite as scathing in their reply, " We're quite as clean as you, sirs ! " The " dukes " come up very stiffly in the verse " You're all as stiff as pokers," and the " maidens " bend very low in their reply.
In this game the children have the joy of imitating their elders in as many different ways as occur to them, and the game may be indefinitely prolonged by their ingenuity or that of their teachers. The children join hands in a ring, singing the first part of the verse until they come to " It was this way and that way," when they stop and do the appropriate action. For instance, " When I was a school­girl," they go slowly round, making a book of their two hands, at which they look very intently. At the verse, " When I was a teacher," they stand, turning from one
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