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Saint George

[John Kirkpatrick]

John Kirkpatrick recorded his own song for his 1978 album Going Spare, and again for his 2007 Fledg'ling album Make No Bones. He commented in the former album's sleeve notes:

Commissioned by the Hammersmith Folk Dance Club, now long since disbanded but with whom I spent many happy and formative years, for a special dance in honour of our patron saint.

and in the latter's notes

This song first saw the light of day in 1969, with a chorus that ended with Henry V's lines from Shakespeare—“Cry God for Harry, England and St George”. By the time I recorded it on the 1978 Free Reed LP Going Spare, the chorus was how you hear it here—“And on my breast a red, red rose, The flower of England wherever she grows.” It's a rare thing now, but in my formative years the red rose was often worn in honour of St George's Day.

I decided my original version was too limp and mindless, and that the Goddiness of it all would never get it sung on the football terraces where it obviously belonged! So finally I managed to re-jig the words a couple of years ago, to make the figure of St George more frightening and powerful, no easy touch for the temporarily penitent, and just as terrifying as a friend as he is as an enemy.

Amazingly, within twelve short months of each other, three different versions of this song will have become available. This one; the original, on the imminent CD re-release of Going Spare; and a third can be heard of Waterson:Carthy's Topic CD Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man, where the group did their own re-write to make it more suitable as an introduction to a mummers play.

Martin Carthy sang Saint George with some new verses on Waterson:Carthy's album Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man.

This video shows John Kirkpatrick singing Saint George at the Royal Oak, Lewes on October 7, 2010:

Lyrics

John Kirkpatrick sings Saint George on Going Spare

Now I am Saint George and a God-fearing man,
I fight for Old England whenever I can,
With a banner in battle all foes to defy
Let “The Cross and Saint George” be your battle cry.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And on my breast a red, red rose,
The flower of England wherever she grows.

With courage and valour I act out my days,
I seek for no honour, I ask for no praise.
My only desire is to handle the sword
And that England may flourish is all my reward.

Now I fought with the dragon and brought him to shame,
I was killed seven times but I still fought again.
I was killed seven times but it did me no ill
And God being willing I'll fight again still.

In the cause of all freedom my banner shall wave,
The oppressed and downtrodden my sword it shall save.
And kindle the hearts of all true-living men
That the victory be ours at the final Amen.

John Kirkpatrick sings Saint George on Make No Bones

Now I am Saint George, I'm a champion bold,
And over old England my flag I'll unfold.
My sword fights for justice, with truth for my shield,
And when I come riding I never shall yield.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And on my breast a red, red rose,
The flower of England wherever she grows.

I fought with the dragon and brought it to shame,
I was killed seven times but I still fought again.
I was killed seven times but it did me no ill
If the battle be true then I'll fight again still.

In the cause of all freedom my banner shall wave,
The oppressed and downtrodden my sword it shall save.
In the righting of wrongs I never shall tire
That the weak become strong is all my desire.

I'll watch o'er your horses, your house and your land,
And if you have none, still your friend I will stand.
I'll strengthen your courage for all you hold dear
To vanquish all doubt and banish all fear.

Now be sure in your heart if you call on my name
For I fight with the fury of fire and flame.
Any lies or deceit to a cinder I'll burn
And once you invoke me I never shall turn.

For I have the power to pierce to the heart,
I strike like the lightning, I can tear you apart.
On hoof-beats of thunder over England I'll ride,
What foe can defy you with me by your side?

Martin Carthy sings Saint George

Well, I am Saint George and a God-fearing man,
I fight for Old England whenever I can,
With a banner in battle all foes to defy
Let “The Servant Saint George” be your battle cry.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And on my breast a red, red rose,
The flower of England wherever she grows.

For I am Saint George and a champion bold,
I fought with the dragon and I laid him out cold.
I fought with the dragon and I brought him to slaughter
And by those means won the King of Egypt's daughter.

And I fought with the dragon and I brought him to shame,
I was killed seven times but I still fought again.
I was killed seven times but it did me no ill
And God being willing I'll fight again still.

I was struck out at seven seas into five score,
The like it was ne'er seen in England before.
And they gave me a challenge, no one it denies:
See how high he flew, see how low he lies

Now up goes Saint George, so fair and so fine,
A star on his breast, it like silver doth shine.
He kindles the hearts of all women and men
May the victory be ours at the final Amen.

Acknowledgements

John Kirkpatrick's lyrics were copied from the Going Spare booklets and slightly adapted to his actual singing on the record. Waterson:Carthy's version was transcribed by Reinhard Zierke. Thanks to Jonty Davis for correcting my mishearings.