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Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell

samirich 09 Dec 05 - 05:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Dec 05 - 07:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Dec 05 - 08:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Dec 05 - 08:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Dec 05 - 09:35 PM
samirich 10 Dec 05 - 11:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Dec 05 - 12:47 AM
GUEST,Rumncoke 11 Dec 05 - 03:20 AM
samirich 11 Dec 05 - 04:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Dec 05 - 05:08 PM
samirich 14 Jan 06 - 09:53 PM
mack/misophist 15 Jan 06 - 09:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jan 06 - 09:11 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: samirich
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 05:11 PM

I have found a wonderful 16th Century Christmas Carol that is quite secular but the words do not make good sense to me. If someone could shed some light, I would be appreciative.

The lyrics are as follows with my questions all parenthesized.

Christmas Hath Made and End – Essex's Last Farewell
(16th Century Carol from the Virginal Book of Elizabeth Rogers)

Christmas hath made an end, Well a day, well a day,
Which was my dearest friend, More is the pity.(More is the pity?)
For with a heavy heart must I from thee depart.
To follow plough and cart All the year after.

Lent is fast coming on, … That loves not any one, …
For I doubt both my cheeks will look thin eating leeks;
Wise is he then that seeks for a friend in a corner.(friend in a corner?)

All our good cheer is gone. … And turned to a bone, …(turned to a bone?)
In my good master's house I shall eat no more souce (southern potted meat?)
Then give me one carouse, Gentle, kind butler. (one carouse?)

It grieves me to the heart, … From my friend to depart, …
Christmas I mean, 'tis thee that thus forsaketh me,
Yet till one hour I see will I be merry.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 07:41 PM

More's the pity- He had to get back to work in the fields.
In the 17th c., there was little work to be done in the fields, so the Christmas holiday season was extended as late as Candlemas (New Oxford Book of Carols).
Souse is pickled meat or fish; it persists in North America. (If you are American-Canadian, you should know it from old-timers who put up meat and fish along with canning fruit, etc.


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Subject: LYR. ADD: Christmas Hath Made An End
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 08:27 PM

Tune- "Well-a-Day(e)!" Can be found in Chappell's "Popular Music of the Olden Time," 1859, vol. 1, p. 176, and "Essex's Last Good Night," pp. 174-176.
Can' find the Carol in Mudcat.
The Carol uses the tune, but otherwise has nothing to do with "Essex's Last Farewell."

Lyr. Add: Christmas Hath Made An End
(Source- Bullen, A Christmas Garland)

Christmas hath made an end,
Well-a-day!! Well-a-day!
Which was my dearest friend,
More is the pity!
For with an heavy heart
Must I from thee depart,
To follow the plow and cart
All the year after.

Lent is fast coming on,
Well-a-day! Well-a-day!
That loves not anyone,
More is the pity!
For I doubt both my cheeks
Will look thin from eating leeks;
Wise is he then that seeks
For a friend in a corner.

And our good cheer is gone,
Well-a-day! Well-a-day!
And turned to a bone,
More is the pity!
In my good master's house
I shall eat no more souse,
Then give me one carouse,
Gentle kind butler!

It grieves me to the heart,
Well-a-day! Well-a-day!
From my friend to depart,
More is the pity!
Christmas, I fear 'tis thee
That thus forsaketh me;
Yet till one hour I see,
Will I be merry.

www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com
Source: A. H. Bullen, 1885, "A Christmas Garland," John C. Nimmo, London, pp. 244-245.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 05 - 08:00 PM

I assume this title relates to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, who was executed on February 25th 1601, after an unsuccesful rising against Queen Elizabeth on 8th February. A few weeks after Christmas ("Christmas hath made an end"), but in advance of Lent.

Whether the song itself has anything to do with the Earl of Essex is another matter - but I'd imagine that it might have seemed a very appropriate one to sing at the time, and maybe to suggest was sung by the Earl himself while waiting for the chop, which might even have been true, and it's got the right kind of mood for a death cell. And in any case such a suggestion would have been a good way to sell copies of the song.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: Essex's Last Good Night (Well-a-Day)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Dec 05 - 09:35 PM

Lyr. Add: Essex's Last Good Night, or Well-A-Day
Tune: The King's Last Good Night
(Pepys Collection)

1sr verse:
All you that cry O hone, O hone! (i. e. alas)
Come now and sing O Lord with me;
For why our jewel is from me gone,
The valiant knight of chivalry.
Of rich and poor belov'd was he;
In time an honorable knight;
Which by our lawa condemn'd was he;
And lately took his last Good-night.

"On the death of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex (father of Queen Elizabeth's favorite) who died in Dublin, in 1576."

In Wm. Chappell, "Popular Music of the Olden Time," vol. 1, p. 174.
Chappell comments that "Well-A-Day" seems to be older than the date of the death of either Earl (of Essex) because, in 1566-7, Mr. Wally had a license to print "the second Well-a-day"... (and two other printers as well).
"Sir Walter Raleigh, his Lamentation," also from Pepys Collection, also was sung to the tune of "Well-a-day."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: samirich
Date: 10 Dec 05 - 11:36 PM

I can't wait to tell my children's choir at the Christmas program!This song was sung by the Earl of Essex, awaiting his execution.(by getting his head chopped off). That will take a little glee out of their voices. We had been singing this kind of upbeat because it was such a catchy melody, but not now. This is going down to the dirge category.

Thank-you for all the insight and particularly the references. I am fortunate in that I can actually follow up on most of them..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Dec 05 - 12:47 AM

Samirich- He did not.
The Christmas song seems to be a more recent use of the tune "Well-a-Day."

Tune "Well-A-Day," used for "Essex's Last Good Night," given on page 176 of Chappell, for a song called "The Lamentation of A Sinner," a song sung by a widow in the play, "A World's Folly." This was for the father.

The son, Robert Lord Devereux, topped in 1601, would have known a version or three of the song "Well-A-Day," but the lament was composed later and published two years later in 1603, printed for Margret Alide.
First verse:

Lament, lament, for he is dead
Who serv'd his prince most faithfully;
Lament, each subject, and the head
Of this our realm of Brittany.
Our Queen has lost a soldier true;
Her subjects lost a noble friend:
Oft for his queen his sword he drew,
And for her subjects blood did spend.
etc.

The tune dates back to the early 1500s at least; except for the oft-used lines around 'Well-A-Day,' the early versions seem to be lost.

PM Malcolm Douglas; he can tell you more.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: GUEST,Rumncoke
Date: 11 Dec 05 - 03:20 AM

More is the pity - Christmas is gone, and it was my friend, which makes it worse. Christmas was often personified - shades of its pagan origins, I supose.

Seeks for a friend in a corner - when you are cornered you are basically trapped, and need assistance to escape.

Souse is a liquid preservative - soused herring is the common one I know myself, though if you were to fall, splash, over your head into a body of water you would also be thoroughly soused - likewise if you were to drink quantities of beer etc you would 'roll home soused' and doubtless find yourself 'in a pickle' with the missis (her indoors) next morning, for having caroused - indulged in drunken revellry.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: samirich
Date: 11 Dec 05 - 04:43 PM

Ok:

I do not know if he sang it for his death watch, but I can use the same power of suggestion that he may have sung it for such. Much like the broadside sellers could have. Sometimes that is more powerful than the truth anyway.

I'm surprised that I didn't pick up on soused as a really good drunk, maybe I have forgotten. I doubt it.

Great feedback from all - Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Dec 05 - 05:08 PM

Q is right; don't take McGrath's comments literally. "Last Goodnight" ballads were composed for sale at, or subsequent to, executions (often public executions, with therefore a good market available) and had nothing directly, as a rule, to do with the person condemned; just words put into their mouths by hack broadside merchants. One on Essex was available in print, it appears, within two days of the execution.

I don't have time to précis the details at present; maybe two ballads and two tunes, won't know till I can compare them. Won't be for a few weeks, so somebody else should do it.

See Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966, pp 206-8 and 747-8. All the relevant information is there, I think.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: samirich
Date: 14 Jan 06 - 09:53 PM

Malcolm:

You are absolutely right. Simpson is thorough and you have even the page numbers right. Tell me that isn't from memory.

Sami Rich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: mack/misophist
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 09:28 AM

According to the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, 'souse' is a potted meat made from various parts of the pig; widely available when I was young and often called 'head cheese' - nasty stuff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Essex's Last Farewell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 09:11 AM

Maybe "souce" could be used as an alternatuve word for "spam"...


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