Mudcat Café message #247020 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #22640   Message #247020
Posted By: MikeofNorthumbria
26-Jun-00 - 11:13 AM
Thread Name: Help: Chastity Belt -- Recordings?
Subject: Lyr Add: CHASTITY BELT
Oh pray gentle maiden, may I be your lover?
Condemn me no longer to mourn and to weep!
Struck down like a hart I lie wounded and fainting,
Come let down your drawbridge and I'll enter your keep.
Enter your keep, nonny-nonny, enter your keep ...
Come let down your drawbridge, and I'll enter your keep.

Alas, gentle errant, I am not a maiden -
I'm married to Sir Oswald, the cunning old Celt.
He's gone to the wars for a twelvemonth or longer,
And taken the key to my chastity belt!
Chastity belt, nonny-nonny, (etc)

Fear not gentle madam, for I know a locksmith,
To town I will go, at his door I will knock.
Then we will avail us of his technical knowledge,
And with his assistance, I'll unpick your lock!
Unpick your lock, nonny-nonny ...

Alas Sir and Madam, to help I'm unable,
My technical knowledge is of no avail.
I can't find the secret of your combinations -
The cunning old Baron has fitted a Yale!
Fitted a Yale, nonny-nonny ...

I'm home from the wars with sad news of disaster,
A terrible mishap I have to confide -
As our ship was passing the straits of Gibraltar,
I carelessly dropped the key over the side.
Over the side, nonny-nonny ...

And then there was weeping, and great consternation,
Till up stepped the pageboy, saying 'Leave it to me!
If you will permit me to enter your chamber,
I'll open you up with my duplicate key!'
Duplicate key, nonny-nonny ...


Well, those are the words as near as I can remember them after nearly four decades! Now for the history lesson.

The song was current among folkies at Oxford when I was there in the early '60s, but nobody seemed certain of the author's name. I think it had been composed a year or two earlier, as a comedy sketch for a student stage show. At a very convivial party, I scribbled down the words for Eric Winter, then Editor of the British folk music magazine, Sing!. After obtaining the music from my mate, Bob Pierce, Eric published the song in Sing!, in the spring or summer of 1962. Through that - or some other - channel, the song reached Rory McEwan, who incorporated it into the folk music programme he put on at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival, along with his brother Alex, and Carolyn Hester and Dick Farina. Since then, it seems to have gone around the world. If the real author is out there, will he or she please own up.

Wassail!