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Marrow Bones: English Folk Songs from the Hammond and Gardiner Manuscripts


Sheep Shearing Song: supplementary material

The Sheep-Sheering Ballad

Sung by Mr. Burkhead. Set by Mr. J. Barret.

The Sheep-Sheering Ballad: staff notation and link to midi rendition

When the rose is in bud, and blew violets blow,
When the birds sing us Love songs on every bough,
When cowslips and daisies and daffidils spread,
And adorn and perfume the green flow'ry mead.
When without the plough fat oxen low,
The lads and the lasses a-sheep-sheering go.

When the cleanly milk-pail
Is filled with brown ale,
Our table, our table's the grass,
Where we kiss and we sing,
And we dance in a ring,
And every lad, ev'ry lad has his lass,
When without the plough fat oxen low,
The lads and the lasses a-sheep-shearing go.

The shepherd sheers his jolly fleece,
How much richer than that which they say was in Greece.
'Tis our cloath and our food,
And our politick blood,
'Tis the seat, 'tis the seat which our nobles all sit on
'Tis a mine above ground,
Where our treasure is found,
'Tis the gold, 'tis the gold and the silver of Britain.

From The Merry Musician, Or, A Cure for the Spleen, being a collection of the most diverting songs and pleasant ballads. London: John Walsh, I, 1716. Left-click on the staff notation for a midi rendition.

Frank Kidson supplied the music and two slightly variant texts from the book cited and from 'an engraved music-sheet of about the same date'. The text quoted above was printed in The Journal of the Folk-Song Society, I (5) 1904, 263, and the music in FSJ VII (27) 1923, 80.

The notation here is transcribed from a copy included in the Hammond MSS (D358): slurs are included only where indicated in the original, but we have hyphenated the words in the usual way.