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Arrane Ny Niee / The Washing Song

[ Roud - ; trad.]

Eliza Carthy sang the Washing Song on the Imagined Village's 2012 album, Bending the Dark.

Laura Hockenhull sang The Washing Song on the 2013 anthology of music at work in Britain, Rhythms of Labour. Marek Korcvynski et al noted:

Coming from the Isle of Man, this song was sung in Manx Gaelic with the title Arrane Ny Niee. According to James Kelly of Ballachrink, from whom it was collected by Mona Douglas in the early 20th century, the song was sung by women during the course of washing their babies. There are three clear dimensions of emotion expressed in the song. The tender care with which women handle their young offspring is suggested in details about washing first their hands, and then their feet, and in expressions overflowing with the delight of maternal love—‘O my heart, my joy’. This is accompanied with admiring description of those they tend, their bodies fair and smooth, their hair a-curling, all of which is summed up in the line: ‘Each day puts beauty on you’. Along with these aspects of the song is the recurrent sense of time moving on, as each day passes from dawn to twilight, and of their babies continually growing and changing: ‘Each day puts strength upon you’. The song is a celebration of the abundance of maternal love coupled with expressions of hope for each ‘darling sweet’ to whom it is sung—hope that they continue to grow over time in both beauty and strength.

These three emotional dimensions in this song of a mother’s daily work and care for her child are sensitively brought out in this new recording by Laura Hockenhull, sung in the translated version of the song available in Peter Kennedy’s major collection of traditional song from Britain and Ireland [pp. 184-5]. We had the honour of introducing this song to Eliza Carthy, when she played a concert linked to our singing at work research in 2010. She takes the lead on The Imagined Village’s version of the song on their 2012 album, Bending the Dark.

Lyrics

Arrane Ny Niee Laura Hockenhull sings The Washing Song

Bee dty host, my villish
Bee dty host, my villish
    Niee mish dty laueyn
    Niee mish dty cassyn
Aalin t’ou, my lhiannoo
Bane as rea dty challin
Sheidey dty coamrey meein
    Dagh laa cur aalid ort
    Vyrneen lhiam ny folt cassagagh
    Ree ny rollagyn, cur bannaght ort
    O my chree, my stoyr

Hush-a-bye, my darling
Hush-a-bye, my darling
    Hands now I ’ll wash them
    Feet now I ’ll wash them
Handsome you, my young one
Fair and smooth your body
Clothes made of silk so fine
    Each day puts beauty on you
    Darling sweet, with hair a-curling
    King of stars, blessings on you
    O my heart, my joy.

Chooid nagh gaase ’sy voghrey
Lhig eh gaase ’syn keeiraght
    Niee mish dty laueyn
    Niee mish dty cassyn
Chooid nagh gaase ec munlaa
Lhig eh gaase ’syn oie
Cur ort dy chooilley grayse
    Dagh laa cur niartys ort
    Vyrneen lhiam ny folt cassagagh
    Ree ny rollagyn, cur bannaght ort
    O my chree, my stoyr

At morn that which grows not
By the twilight’s growing
    Hands now I ’ll wash them
    Feet now I ’ll wash them
At noon that which grows not
By the night-time’s growing
And puts on every grace
    Each day puts strength upon you
    Darling sweet, with hair a-curling
    King of stars, blessings on you
    O my heart, my joy.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Peter Kenendy: Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland, pp. 184-5.