> Folk Music > Songs > Raking the Hay

Haymaking Courtship / Raking the Hay / Joy After Sorrow

[ Roud 855 ; Master title: Haymaking Courtship ; Ballad Index ReSh040 ; Bodleian Roud 855 ; trad.]

Sam Larner sang Raking the Hay in a recording made in his home in Winterton, Norfolk in 1958/59 by Philip Donnellan for the BBC. It was published in 1974 on his posthumous Topic album A Garland for Sam.

Phoebe Smith sang Raking the Hay in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1975-76. This recording was published in 1977 on their family’s Topic anthology from Gypsy singers, The Travelling Songster. and in 2001 on her Veteran CD The Yellow Handkerchief. Cecily Taylor noted in the first album’s booklet:

Several English folksongs deal with the theme of rural seduction—or attempted seduction. Sung such as The Barley Raking, Lovely Joan, The Aylesbury Girl and Raking the Hay enjoyed a widespread popularity in the late 1700s and early 1800s and many no doubt stem from a sophisticated bawdry on the type that Henry Playford included in his drollery collection Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy (1698-1714). The songs reappeared over and over again on broadsides and, in the mouth of countless folksingers, have become gems like the one that Phoebe sings here.

The House Band sang this song with the title Joy After Sorrow in 1987 on their Topic album Pacific.

Dan and Matt Quinn sang Raking the Hay in 2008 on The Mighty Quinn’s album Thicker Than Water. They noted:

Raking the Hay, a tale of rural seduction with a happy ending, is from a recording of the Norfolk Fisherman, Sam Lamer.

Andy Turner learned Raking the Hay from live performances by Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick and Howard Evans in 1980/81 and from Sam Larner’s album. He sang it as the 11 August 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.


Sam Larner sings Raking the Hay

Oh a sailor gay walked out one day
To see what he could gain that way.
He met a maid all on his way
She was raking of her master’s hay.

“Good morning to you, maid so fair,
How came you raking this hay so clear?
Come pull off your gown, throw away your rake
And gain with the sailor to yonder green gate.”

“What would my master say to me
If I’d leave my work and gain with thee?
He’d stop my wage, give me no pay,
He’d stop my wages and turn me away.”

Now with kisses sweet and words so kind
Caused this fair maid to change her mind.
She pulled off her gown, threw away her rake
And gained with the sailor to yonder green gate.

Now six long months were gone and past
And at nine month brought a child at last.
Then she cursed the hour, she cursed the day,
She cursed the very hour she left her master’s hay.

But eleven moths gone and twelve months past
And the sailor he returned at last.
He married her the very next day
So she blessed the very hour she left her master’s hay.

Phoebe Smith sings Raking the Hay

As I walked out on a bright summer day
Across those fields and meadows gay
And who should I meet, was a lady maid
And she were raking her master’s hay.

“Ada dear, what have brought you here
A-raking of your hay so clear?
Throw down your rake and put on your cloak
And you gain with a sailor to yonders town.”

“No kind sir, that will never do
My master he’s now watching you
He’ll stop my wages, give me mo pay
If I leave off a-raking among the hay.”

Words were kind and kisses sweet
So soon that young girl changed her mind
She throwed down her rake and put on her cloak
And she went with the sailor to yonders town.

Nine long months being gone and past
That pretty fair maid fell sick at last
She cursed the hour likewise the day
When she left off a-raking her master’s hay.