Mudcat Café message #792480 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51900   Message #792480
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
27-Sep-02 - 01:28 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Courting is a Pleasure
Subject: RE: Courting is a pleasure. info!
Unfortunately, I don't have either of the records on which Nic's arrangement of this song appeared, so I can't remember if he indicated his source for it. What I can tell you, though, is that the song-family is quite large. The Roud Folk Song Index (which you may perhaps be able to access through college) assigns it Roud number 454, and lists variants under a lot of names; for example, Loving Hannah; The Irish Girl; Going to Church (or Mass) Last Sunday; Meeting is a Pleasure; Farewell Ballmoney; and so on.

In this form it's presumably Irish in origin, though it's been found in tradition most frequently in the North of America. The tune Nic used is often associated with it, and is related to Irish versions of The Lowlands of Holland. It was also used for transportation ballads such as Van Diemen's Land.

Books you might want to consult include:

Peter Kennedy, Folksongs of Britain and Ireland: (Going to Mass Last Sunday)
Vance Randolph, Ozark Folk Songs vol.4: (Black Eyed Mary)
Gale Huntington, Sam Henry's Songs of the People: (Farewell Ballymoney and Dark-Eyed Molly)
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland: (I Went to Mass on Sunday)
Kenneth Peacock, Songs of the Newfoundland Outports vol.2 (In Courtship There Lies Pleasure)
Cecil Sharp, English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians vol.2: (The Irish Girl)

That's only a few of many, mind. Paddy Tunney and Margaret Barry both sang forms of it, and Jean Ritchie (who posts here from time to time) has a family version. The Traditional Ballad Index has an entry:  Farewell Ballymoney (Loving Hannah; Lovely Molly).

There are four sets at The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection with audio and transcriptions:

Handsome Molly As sung by Mr. Dillard Reeves, Huntsville, Arkansas on July 30, 1959.
Handsome Molly As sung by Donnie Koonce, Springfield, Missouri on March 13, 1975.
Handsome Molly As sung by Ollie Gilbert, Mountain View, Arkansas on October 7, 1969
Pretty Maggie Fragment; as sung by Mr. Arlie Lynch, Rogers, Arkansas on August 13, 1958 .

Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads lists an edition of Loving Hannah, but no image is available. As Bruce feared, the late 17th century The young-mans lamentation is still mostly illegible.

There is a previous discussion here which contains some useful information: Loving Hannah. Two further texts can be seen here, too; Loving Hannah (DT entry) and Courting is a Pleasure (Lovely Molly) (transcribed from a record). In neither case is a traditional source named; though the DT text is from a recording by Sandy and Caroline Paton; with luck Sandy may see this thread and add some more information.