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The Postman's Knock

[ Roud 13177 ; trad.]

The Postman's Knock is an Adderbury Morris song-dance. According to S.J. Adair Fitzgerald (Stories of Famous Songs, ca. 1901), it was written by L.M. Thornton and composed by W.T. Wrighton in about 1860.

Martin Carthy sings The Postman's Knock on the 1976 album Son of Morris On. This performance was included in 2001 on the Martin Carthy anthology The Carthy Chronicles. This Albion Band released it also as a single A-side in June 1977 with an additional third verse. This track was finally included in the CD reissue of their album Rise Up Like the Sun. There are also three live recordings from 1977 with either John Tams or Simon Nicol singing. All three close with the Morris Dance tune Black Joke:

  1. A recording for BBC Radio 1 “Live in Concert” was included in 1993 on the CD The Albion Band Live in Concert,
  2. A session recorded on May 31, 1977 for BBC Radio 1 “Top Gear” was broadcast on June 8, 1977 and released in 1998 on the CD The BBC Sessions,
  3. A live concert from the 13th Cambridge Folk Festival on July 29, 1977 was published in 1998 too on the CD Live at the Cambridge Folk Festival.

A final Albion Band performance with John Kirkpatrick singing was on their 1980 album Lark Rise to Candleford. This has somewhat changed lyrics to accommodate Laura's female persuasion, and has the original third verse as in S.J. Adair Fitzgerald's book mentioned above.

Lyrics

Son of Morris On version Rise Up Like the Sun version

Chorus (twice at the beginning and after each verse):
Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman's knock.

What a wonderful man the postman is
As he hastens from door to door!
What medley of news his hands contain
For high, low, rich, and poor!
In many a face he joy can trace,
In as many a grief he can see,
But the door is open to his loud rat-tat
And his swift delivery.

What a wonderful man the postman is
As he hastens from door to door!
What medley of news his hands contain
For high, low, rich, and poor!
In many's the face the joy he can trace,
In many's the grief he can see,
When you open the door to his loud rat-tat
And his quick delivery.

Chorus (twice after each verse):
Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman's knock.

No. 1 he presents with news of a birth,
With tidings of death, No. 4,
At 13 a bill of terrible length
He drops through the hole in the door;
Now a cheque or an order for 15 he leaves
In 16 his presence to prove,
While 17 doth an acknowledgement get,
And 18 a letter of love.

No. 1 he presents with news of a birth,
With tidings of death, No. 4,
And at 13 a bill of terrible length
He drops through the hole in the door;
Now a cheque or an order in 15 he leaves
In 16 his presence to prove,
While 17 doth an acknowledgement get,
And 18 a letter of love.

And the mail must get through
Whatever the hazards or odds
This low man of letters just peddles on through
Pursued by a pack of wild dogs
But ease and complaining whatever the trial
Or beating he never retreats
For you get a free bag and a hat with a badge
And it's better than walking the streets.

Lark Rise to Candleford version

Chorus (twice at the beginning and after each verse):
Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman's knock.

So welcome the snow, young Laura does go
And she hastens from door to door.
What a medley of news her hands do hold
For high, low, rich, and poor!
On many a face the joy she can trace,
On many the grief she can see,
As the door opens up to her loud rat-tat
And her quick delivery.

No. 1 she presents with news of a birth,
With tidings of death, No. 4,
At 11 a bill of terrible length
She drops through the hole in the door;
A cheque or an order at 15 she leaves
In 16 her presence to prove,
And 17 doth an acknowledgement get,
And 20 a letter of love.

May her visits be frequent to those who expect
A line from the friends they hold dear;
And we hope, but rarely compelled she will be
Disastrous tidings to bear.
And far be the day when the envelope shows
The dark border shading it o'er;
So long life to Her Majesty's servant, we say,
And oft may she knock on the door.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: The Postman's Knock and the original sheet music in the Lester S. Levy Collection.