> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Midsummer Carol

Midsummer Carol

[ Roud 6913 ; trad.]

Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould collected the Midsummer Carol from William Aggett of Chagford, Devon, and printed it in his Songs of the West. He also collected it on July 7, 1891 from Samuel Gilbert of Mawgan in Pydar, Cornwall.

Cyril Tawney sang the Midsummer Carol from Devon in 1973 on his Argo album I Will Give My Love.

The Devil's Interval sang The Midsummer Carol in 2006 on their WildGoose album Blood and Honey. They commented in their liner notes:

From the manuscripts of Devon collector Sabine Baring-Gould, this little jewel is a relic of a long forgotten tradition. It mentions Leman Day, which was the original Valentines Day (Look up Lemady or listen to the Copper Family's Sweet Lemeney). Young men would woo their lemans (true loves) with garlands of flowers at the crack of dawn on midsummer's day. This probably didn't make them very popular at 4.30 a.m.! Baring-Gould often liked to add flowery Victorian language to the songs he collected and he did a grand job on this one. Jim has taken the liberty of editing out the melodramatic “why must I die” verse. Does that make him as bad as the early collectors? We do hope so! No disrespect to the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould intended.

Lyrics

William Aggett sings Midsummer Carol

'Twas early I walked on a midsummer morning,
The fields and the meadows were decked and gay,
The small birds were singing, the woodlands a-ringing,
'Twas early in the morning, at breaking of day,
I will play on my pipes, I will sing thee my lay!
It is early in the morning, at breaking of day.

O hark! and O hark! to the nightingales wooing,
The lark is aloft piping shrill in the air.
In every green bower the turtle-doves cooing,
The sun is just gleaming, arise up my fair!
Arise, love, arise! none fairer I spie
Arise, love, arise! O why should I die?

Arise, love, arise! go and get your love posies,
The fairest of flowers in garden that grows,
Go gather me lilies, carnations and roses,
I'll wear them with thoughts of the maiden I chose
I stand at the door, pretty love, full of care,
O why should I languish so long in despair?

O why my love, O why, should I banished be from thee?
O why should I see my own chosen no more?
O why look your parents so slightingly on me?
It is all for the rough ragged garments I wore,
But dress me with flowers, I'm as gay as a king,
I'm glad as a bird when my carol I sing.

Arise, love, arise! in song and in story,
To rival thy beauty was never a may,
I will play thee a tune on my pipes of ivory,
It is early in the morning, at breaking of day,
I will play on my pipes, I will sing thee my lay!
It is early in the morning, at breaking of day.

Cyril Tawney sings Midsummer Carol

'Twas early as I walked on a Midsummer morning,
The fields and the meadows were decked and gay.
The small birds were singing so sweetly and shrilly,
'Twas early in the morning at the breaking of day.

O hark, and o hark to the nightingales singing,
The lark is aloft, high aloft in the air.
In every green bower are the turtle doves a-building,
The sun is just gleaming, arise up my fair.

Arise love, arise! go and get your love posies,
The fairest of flowers in your garden that grows.
Go gather me lilies and sweet pinks and roses,
I'll wear them with thoughts of the maiden I chose.

Arise sweet, arise! thou loveliest creature,
Thou loveliest creature I ever did spy.
O let the sun shine on thy beautiful feature,
Arise love, arise, or in sorrow I die.

O why love, o why should I be banished from thee?
O why should I see my own fairest no more?
O why do your parents look sligthingly on me?
It is all for the ragged rough clothes that I wore.

O why love, o why should I be banished from thee?
O why should I languish so long in despair?
O why do you look but so coldly upon me,
When I live alone when my true love is near?

Arise love, arise! in song and in story,
To rival thy beauty was never a may,
I will play thee a tune on my pipes of ivory,
'Tis early in the morning at the breaking of day.

The Devil's Interval sing The Midsummer Carol

'Twas early I walked on a fine Midsummer's morning,
The fields and the meadows were decked and gay.
The small birds were singing, the woodlands are ringing,
Early in the morning, at breaking of day.
I will play on my pipes, I will sing to thee, my lady!
'Twas early in the morning at breaking of day.

Arise love, arise! go and gather your love posies,
The fairest of flowers that in yonder garden grows.
Go gather me lilies, carnations and roses,
I'll wear them with pride for the young girl I chose.
Come dress me with flowers, I'm as gay as a king,
I'm glad as a bird when my carol I sing.

O hark! love, o hark! love, the nightingales a-wooing,
The lark is aloft piping shrill in the air.
In every green bower the turtle-doves are cooing,
The sun is hot gleaming, arise up my dear!
I'd waited all year from midwinter through to May,
Yes I'd waited all year for the dawn of Leman Day.

Arise, love, arise! in song and in story,
The sun rises high over golden field of hay.
I'll play thee a tune on my gilded pipes of ivory,
Early in the morning, at breaking of day,
I'll play on my pipes, I will sing to thee my lady!
It's early in the morning, at breaking of day.