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Staines Morris

[ Roud V18894 ; trad.]

William Chappell married the tune and the lyrics of Staines Morris in his Popular Music of the Olden Time, Vol. 1 (1859, pp. 125-6), saying:

This tune is taken from the first edition of [Playford's] The Dancing Master. It is also in William Ballet's Lute Book (time of Elizabeth); and was printed as late as about 1760, in a Collection of Country Dances, by Wright.

The Maypole Song, in Actæon and Diana [Robert Cox, 2nd ed., 1656], seems so exactly fitted to the air, that, having no guide as to the one intended, I have, on conjecture, printed it with this tune.

Martin Carthy sang Staines Morris on his 1969 album with Dave Swarbrick, Prince Heathen. He commented in the record's sleeve notes:

This is the result of a co-operative effort by Cyril Tawney, The Yetties, Frankie Armstrong and myself. The tune is obviously for a very formal dance and has echoes of Michael Praetorius and before.

Shirley Collins' sang lead on The Staines Morris as part of her and her sister Dolly's Song Story which was one half of both their albums Anthems in Eden (1969) and Amaranth (1976). Shirley Collins also sang this in 1972 on the Morris On album by Ashley Hutchings et al. (then without Martin Carthy but he was to come to the fold on the successor Son of Morris On). A live version of Staines Morris by Fairport Convention from the 1970 Philadelphia Folk Festival is on their 4 CD anthology Fairport unConventioNal.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Staines Morris in 1975 on their album Mellow With Ale from the Horn. They commented in their liner notes:

Staines Morris does not come from oral tradition. It was first recorded in Elizabethan times as a lute piece though as sung here the tune derives from the one given in Playford's English Dancing Master of 1650. The present text is the Maypole Song from Actæon and Diana, a collection of “drolls and farce jigs,“ musical skits of the Restoration. Tune and text were married by William Chappell, and since the “discovery” of the song in Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Times, printed in the 1850s, this setting has come to be one of the “hits” of the British folk music revival.

Lisa Knapp and David Tibet sang Staines Morris on her 2017 CD Till April Is Dead. She commented:

The lyrics to this were first printed as The Maypole Song in 1656 from a stage play Actæon and Diana by Robert Cox. The words were joined to its current tune (Staines Morris from Playford's English Dancing Master) much later in 1859 by Broadside printer William Chappell and printed as such in his Popular Music of the Olden Time. My feeling is the courtly mode of the melody lends this song an audacious, Titania like call to spirits of nature with a note of hurry up the time is now! Having seen David Tibet's mesmerising performance at a recent concert both Gerry [Diver] and I felt he would fit perfectly with the energy of this version and feel blessed he obliged.


Shirley Collins sings Staines Morris

Come ye young men, come along,
With your music and your song.
Bring your lasses in your hands
For 'tis that which love commands.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
𝄆 Then to the maypole haste away
For 'tis now our holiday 𝄇

'Tis the choice time of the year
For the violets now appear.
Now the rose receives its birth
And the pretty primrose decks the earth.

And when you well reckoned have
What kisses you your sweethearts gave,
Take them all again and more,
It will never make them poor.

When you thus have spent your time
Till the day be past its prime
To your beds repair at night
And dream there of your day's delight.

(repeat first verse)

Acknowledgements and Links

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

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: Staines Morris.