> Folk Music > Songs > Hail! Hail! The First of May

Hail! Hail! The First of May / May Song

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 46931 ; Dave Webber]

Beggar’s Velvet (Dave Webber, Anni Fentiman, Charley and Cathy Yarwood) sang Dave Webber’s May Song in 1990 on their LP Lady of Autumn.

Magpie Lane with Ian Giles in lead sang May Song in 1998 on their Beautiful Jo CD Jack-in-the-Green. They noted:

A song inspired by the May Day celebrations at Padstow in Cornwall where an ancient ’Obby ’Oss has for centuries been paraded through town. (More recently two rival ’osses—one red and one blue—take to the streets). The words and tune, by contemporary songwriter Dave Webber, have entered the folk tradition.

Jon Boden sang Hail! Hail! The First of May as the 1 May 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the project’s blog:

A song by Dave Webber that has been, as I understand it, adopted into the Padstow May morning celebrations. In fact there is a story that Dave was down at Padstow for May morning and started singing this, only to be told off for starting a Padstow song when he was a visitor. In a way that’s the biggest compliment he could have been given!

Jackie Oates sang Hail! Hail! The First of May in 2015 on her CD The Spyglass & the Herringbone.


Beggar’s Velvet sing May Song

Winter time has gone and past-o,
Summer time has come at last-o.
We shall sing and dance the day
And follow the ’obby ’orse that brings the May.

Chorus (after each verse):
So, Hail! Hail! The First of May-o!
For it is the first summer’s day-o!
Cast you cares and fears away,
Drink to the old horse on the First of May!

Blue bells they have started to ring-o,
And true love, it is the thing-o.
Love on any other day
Is never quite the same as on the First of May!

Never let it come to pass-o
We should fail to raise a glass-o!
Unto those now gone away
And left us the ’obby ’orse that brings the May!

(repeat first verse)


Compare to this the traditional Padstow May Song and Tony Deane’s song Following the Old ’Oss as sung by e.g. Tony Rose.