> Folk Music > Songs > A May Garland

A May Garland / This Morning Is the First of May

[ Roud 305 ; VWML RoudFS/S154323 ; trad.]

Lisa Knapp sang A May Garland in 2012 on her EP Hunt the Hare (A Branch of May Volume One) and in 2017 on her CD Till April is Dead: A Garland of May. She commented in her liner notes:

This Morning Is the First of May, collected by Fred Hamer from Miss May Johnson.

I think a bewitching aspect of most May carols is the verse

A man a man his life’s a span
He flourishes like a flower
He’s here today and gone tomorrow
He’s gone all in an hour

The darkest of threads underlying such a pretty little melody and form—a paradoxical pairing which epitomises much I love about folk song, folklore and fairy stories.


Lisa Knapp sings May Garland

This morning is the first of May,
The bright time of the year,
𝄆 And if I live and tarry here
I’ll call another year. 𝄇

The fields and meadows are so green
As green as any leaf,
𝄆 Our heavenly father waters them
With his heavenly dew so sweet. 𝄇

A man, a man, his life’s a span,
He flourishes like a flower;
𝄆 He’s here today and gone tomorrow,
He’s gone all in an hour. 𝄇

I have a purse upon my arm,
It’s drawn with silken string,
𝄆 And all it wants is a little money
To line it well within. 𝄇

The clock struck one, I must be gone,
I can no longer stay,
𝄆 So come downstairs you pretty maids all
And look at my branch of May. 𝄇