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Rose in June (Let It Be Early, Late or Soon)

[ Roud 1202 ; Ballad Index CoSB256 ; words Bob Copper, music trad.]

Bob Copper collected Rose in June in about 1954 from George Fosbury of Axford, Hampshire; see Chapter 14, pp. 114-122, of his book Songs and Southern Breezes for the details. This recording wasn't included on the accompanying album, but Bob Copper later recorded Rose in June as the title track of his 1977 Topic album Sweet Rose in June. The album's sleeve notes commented:

In the mid 1950s Bob and his wife moved to Cheriton in Hampshire as landlord of the H.H. Inn, an episode described in his third book, Songs and Southern Breezes (1973). Here, working part-time on behalf of the BBC, Bob himself assumed the role of collector. Many of the songs that he collected are preserved on disc in the BBC archives, and a selection may be heard on a Topic record (12T317), but some songs (for reasons best known to the BBC) were wiped from the tape without being transferred to disc. Luckily for us, Bob’s receptive ear and memory ensured their survival. These include The Trooper, from Frank Cole of North Waltham; The Squire’s Lost Lady, from Ben Butcher of Popham; The Fisherman, from Victor ‘Turp’ Brown of Cheriton and both The Rose in June and Young Johnnie from George Fosbury of Axford, supplemented in George Fosbury’s case by the texts in Folk Songs of the Upper Thames.

Cyril Tawney sang My Rose in June on his 1973 Argo album of traditional love songs from South West England, I Will Give My Love.

June Tabor sang Rose in June on her CD Rosa Mundi. According to the sleeve notes, her tune was collected by Ella Mary Leather, Weobley, Herefordshire, in 1907.

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar sang Rose in June on their 2014 Fellside album The Call and on their 2015 Fellside DVD In Concert.

There is another, completely different ballad also called The Rose in June where the title refers to the name of a capsized fishing lugger. Louis Killen sang it unaccompanied as title track of his 1989 cassette, The Rose in June.


George Fosbury sings Rose in June June Tabor sings Rose in June

Was down in the valleys, the valleys so deep,
To pick some plain roses to keep my love sweet.

Was down in the valley, the valley so deep,
To pick some plain roses to keep my love sweet.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
So let it come early, late or soon,
I will enjoy my rose in June.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Let it be early, late or soon,
I will enjoy my rose in June,
Rose in June, rose in June,
I will enjoy my rose in June.

O, the roses red, the violets blue,
Carnations sweet, love, and so are you.

Now I will lead my flock to the fold,
Let it be hot or let it be cold.

O love, I will carry thy sweet milking pail,
O love, I will kiss you on every stile.

Now I will cut the sweet myrtle tree
To build a bower for my love and me.

But roses in June are never so sweet
As kisses can be when true lovers meet.