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Ripon Sword Dance Song

[ Roud 610 ; TYG 99 ; Ballad Index RcRiSwDa ; trad.]

Doc Rowe recorded the Ripon Sword Dancers (Mummers) in The Black Bull in Ripon, Yorkshire, on Boxing Day, December 26, 1980. This live recording was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology of songs and dance tunes of seasonal events, You Lazy Lot of Bone-Shakers (The Voice of the People Volume 16).

Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne sang the Ripon Sword Dance Song in 2017 on his WildGoose CD Outway Songster. He commented:

I first came across Ripon Sword Dance Song on the Yorkshire Garland Group website, an online archive of songs collected in, or linked to Yorkshire. The song also appears in the 1930 issue of the Journal of the English Folk Dance Society in an article by Douglas Kennedy on sword dance and mummers’ plays. Kennedy states that the song was collected by Dr C.H. Moody of Ripon in 1925 and forms part of a sword-dance play performed in Ripon around Christmas. I initially learnt this song with the intention of including it in a Christmas set, but having learnt it, I decided it was far too good a song to only sing at Christmas, so I undertook to re-write a slightly less festive version. The song I sing here is my reworking, with all references to Christmas removed and a handful of extra verses added from related calling on songs.

Compare to this the Watersons' Earsdon Sword Dance and Song on their album Frost and Fire,
the Watersons' Ye Noble Spectators on their album A Yorkshire Garland,
John Kirkpatrick's Sword Dance Song & Tune on the CD Wassail! A Traditional Celebration of an English Midwinter,
and Steeleye Span's A Calling-On Song on their first album, Hark! The Village Wait.

Lyrics

The Yorkshire Garland's Ripon Sword Dance Song The Ripon Sword Dancers live in 1980

Make me a room for I am a-coming,
All for to let you understand
That Kersamus time has long been approaching
𝄆 Since we left yon foreign land. 𝄇

Make me a room for I am a-coming,
All for to make you understand
That Christmas time has now been approaching
𝄆 Since we left your foreign land. 𝄇

Oh, the first that comes is General Warrington,
Who comes he on yonder plains.
He goes a-wandering and gains the victory
𝄆 On the plains of Waterloo. 𝄇

Oh, the first that comes is General Warrington,
As to you the truth I tell.
For he's gone a-marching against the victory
𝄆 On the plains of Waterloo. 𝄇

Oh, the next that comes is the Hieland Laddie
Who's got sheep on yonder hill,
A-romping and a-roving among the bonnie lassies,
𝄆 Now he’s gone and spent it all. 𝄇

Oh, the next that comes is the Hieland Laddie
Who's got sheep on yonder hill,
A-romping and a-roving among the bonnie lasses.
𝄆 Now he’s gone and spent it all. 𝄇

Oh, the next that comes is Tom the tinker
Who comes he your kettles for to mend.
For, lassies, if you dare not, Tom will venture,
𝄆 Tom will stand to be your friend. 𝄇

Oh, the next that comes is Tom the tinker
As to you your kettles for to mend.
For, lassies, if you do not know his invention,
𝄆 Tom will stand to be your friend. 𝄇

Acknowledgements

I copied the original Ripon Sword Dance Song from the Yorkshire Garland Group website.