> Ashley Hutchings and The Albion Band > Songs > The Albion Dance Band: Old Sir Simon the King

Old Sir Simon the King

[ Roud 19776 ; Ballad Index OpO0475 ; Mudcat 11102 , 51775 ; trad.]

Words anon. from Thomas d’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy 1719-1720. Tune anon. from The Division Violin 1685 and Humphry Salter’s The Genteel Companion 1683

The Albion Dance Band (Shirley Collins, Eddie Upton, vocals; John Rodd, concertina; John Sothcott, recorder; Philip Pickett, curtal; Simon Nicol, guitar; Ashley Hutchings, bass guitar; Michael Gregory, drums) sang Old Sir Simon the King in a BBC radio session recorded on 22 July 1976. It was published in 1998 on the CD The BBC Sessions. Another 1976 live recording of unknown origin is on the Ashley Hutchings anthology The Guv’nor Vol. 2. It has a nice introduction by Shirley and is sung a bit slower than the BBC version.

Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band sang Old Simon the King on their 1996 album Hang Up Sorrow and Care. This version is two verses longer than the Albion Dance Band’s.

The Tabbush Sisters sang Old Sir Simon the King on their 2003 album This Close….

Lyrics

Shirley Collins sings Old Sir Simon the King

In a humour I was of late,
As many good fellows may be;
To think of no matters of state,
But to seek for good company.
My hostess was sick of the mumps,
The maid was ill at her ease,
The tapster drunk in his dumps;
They’re all of one disease,
That e’er should suit my mind
So I travelled up and down
No company could I find;
Till I came to the sight of The Crown.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
𝄆 Says Old Sir Simon the King 𝄇
With his ale-drop’t hose and his malmsey nose
Sing hey-ding-ding

If a Puritan skinker do cry,
“Dear Brother it is a sin,
To drink if you be dry.”
Then straight this tale I begin.
A Puritan lay down his can
And took up a foaming jug
And there he played the man
As long as he could tug.
And when that he was spied
Did ever he swear or rail?
“No truly, dear brother,” he cried,
“Indeed all flesh is frail.”

If a man should be drunk tonight
And laid in his grave tomorrow
Would you or any man say
That he died of care or sorrow?
Hang up all sorrow and care
’Tis able to kill a cat
And he that will drink all night
Is never afraid of that!
For drinking will make a man quaff,
And quaffing will make a man sing;
Singing will make a man laugh,
And laughter long life doth bring.

Maddy Prior sings Old Simon the King

In a humour I was of late,
As many good fellows be;
To think of no matters of State,
But seek for good Company:
That best contended me.
I travell’d up and down;
No Company could I find;
Till I came to the sight of the Crown:
My Hostess was sick of the Mumps,
The Maid was ill at ease,
The Tapster was drunk in his Dumps;
They were all of one disease,
Says old Simon the King.

Considering in my mind,
And thus I began to think;
If a man be full to his throat,
And cannot take off his drink,
If his drink will not down,
He may hang himself for shame;
So may the Tapster at the Crown,
Where all this reason I frame;
Drink will make a Man Drunk,
Drunk will make a Man dry;
Dry will make a Man sick
Sick will make a man die,
Says old Simon the King.

If a Man should be drunk to night,
And laid in his grave to morrow;
Will you or any man say,
That he died of Care or Sorrow?
Hang up sorrow and care,
`Tis able to kill a Cat,
He that will drink all night,
Is never afraid of that!
Drinking will make a man Quaff,
Quaffing will make a man Sing;
Singing will make a man Laugh,
And laughing long life doth bring,
Says old Simon the King.

If a puritan Skinker cry,
Dear Brother it is a Sin,
To drink unless you be dry,
Then straight this tale I begin,
A Puritan left his Cann,
And took him to his Jugg,
And there he play’d the man,
As long as he could tugg:
When that he was spy’d,
What did he swear or rail;
No, no truly, dear Brother he cry’d,
Indeed all flesh is frail,
Says old Simon the King.

So Fellows, if you’ll be drunk,
Of frailty it is a sin,
Or for to keep a punk,
Or play it In and In;
For Drink and Dice and Drabs,
Are all of one condition,
And will breed want and Scabs,
In spite of the Physician:
Who so fears every Grass,
Must never piss in a Meadow,
And he that loves a pot and a Lass,
Must never cry oh! my head oh!
Says old Simon the King.

Acknowledgements

The lyrics were copied from the Ashley Hutchings songbook A Little Music.