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> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Old Daddy Fox
> John Kirkpatrick > Songs > Old Father Fox

The Fox / Daddy Fox / A Fox Jumped Up

[ Roud 131 ; Master title: The Fox ; G/D 3:499 ; Henry H38 ; Ballad Index R103 ; VWML CJS2/10/2824 ; Bodleian Roud 131 ; GlosTrad Roud 131 ; Wiltshire 645 , 797 ; Mudcat 13266 , 40541 ; trad.]

Cyril Biddick and chorus sang Daddy Fox in a recording made in 1943 in Boscastle, Cornwall. This was included in 1955 on the anthology The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music - Volume III: England, edited by Alan Lomax.

Harry Burgess sang The Hungry Fox at home in Glynde, Sussex, on 19 June 1956. This recording made by Mervyn Plunkett was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology To Catch a Fine Buck Was My Delight (The Voice of the People Series Volume 18).

The Young Tradition sang Daddy Fox in 1967 on their second album, So Cheerfully Round. Peter Bellamy noted:

I almost learned Daddy Fox in the approved traditional manner, not at my mother's knee, but at the knee of my Great-Aunt Henrietta, who used to sing it to me when was very small. The only problem is that the version which I remember her singing was an American one. Perhaps she learned it from a Burl Ives record on Housewives' Choice. The version we sing here comes from Dartmoor and comes to us indirectly and somewhat changed from the singing of Cyril Tawney.

Roy and Val Bailey sang The Fox in 1968 on their album of children's songs with Leon Rosselson, Oats & Beans & Kangaroos.

Cyril Tawney sang Old Daddy Fox on his 1970 Argo album Children’s Songs from Devon and Cornwall. He noted:

Collected by Ralph Dunstan from Jim Thomas of Camborne, 21 October 1931 [ VWML CJS2/10/2824 ] . This old song is one of the most popular traditional pieces on either side of the Atlantic, but nowhere are versions more abundant than in Devon and Cornwall. Even in these modern times the song-hunter does not travel far in this region before encountering it. Tunes vary greatly, but the words are fairly rigid, being apparently unaffected not only by distance but by time too. I have seen a mediaeval version whose text differs little from that given here.

Freda Palmer sang The Fox and the Grey Goose in a recording made by Mike Yates at her home in Witney, Oxfordshire in 1972. Int was included in 1975 on the Topic anthology of countryside songs from Southern England, When Sheepshearing's Done, and in 2001 on the Musical Tradition anthology of songs and music from the Mike Yates Collection, Up in the North and Down in the South. Mike Yates noted in the accompanying booklet:

The Fox and the Grey Goose is a universally known song—at least in the version popularised by Burl Ives—although, surprisingly, Freda Palmer had never heard of the latter version until I mentioned it to her. A verse of the song appeared in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1810) and it is one of the songs that Sir Walter Scott listed as being a favourite of his childhood. Many Victorian broadside printers included it in their catalogues, and collectors have found it being sung in many English counties—thus the 117 instances in Roud. Only Alfred Williams' collection from ‘Wassail’ Harvey of Cricklade, Wilts, is from Freda's part of the country, and the majority of English versions come from either Sussex or the south west.

Bob Copper sang The Fox on his 1977 Topic album of countryside songs from the South, Sweet Rose in June.

Melanie Harrold sang this song in 1983 as A Fox Jumped Up on Tim Hart and Friends' album Drunken Sailor and Other Kids Songs. This track was later included on their compilation CD Favourite Nursery Rhymes and Other Children's Songs.

Barry and Robin Dransfield sang Daddy Fox in 1994 on Barry's CD Be Your Own Man. He noted:

One of my very favourite English folksongs. I was struck with this one when I heard it performed by The Young Tradition in the sixties. Their sense of style and pace is still second to none and has certainly inspired me. The fox and family have a wonderful time and get away with it—brilliant. Thanks to Robin for joining me on this one, and I would like to dedicate this to Young Tradition members Royston Wood and Peter Bellamy, both great friends who tragically are no longer with is.

The Ripley Wayfarers (Mick Peat, Barry Renshaw, Andrew Train, Arthur Renshaw and Phil Langham) sang Daddy Fox, “[o]ne of the most popular songs in Folk Clubs, given a new twist by our setting of it to the tune of Carrion Crow”, on their 1971 LP Chips and Brown Sauce. It was also included in 2001 on the Fellside anthology Voices in Harmony.

The New Scorpion Band sang The Fox in 1999 on their first CD, Folk Songs and Tunes from the British Isles. They noted:

The song was collected by the Hammond brothers from Mrs Crawford in West Milton, Dorset in 1906. Versions exist wherever English is spoken, and the text is fairly consistent, except for the name of the farmer's wife; here she is Old Mother Wibble-Wobble!

Ray Driscoll sang Old Father Fox in a recording made by Gwilym Davies in Dulwich in October 1993. It was published in 2008 on his CD Wild, Wild Berry. Gwilym Davies noted in the liner notes that “in most versions the fox is referred to as ‘Daddy Fox’, and Ray’s version is the only one collected in England referring to ‘Father Fox’.”

The Witches of Elswick sang the Ripley Wayfarers' version of Daddy Fox in 2003 on their first CD, Out of Bed. They noted:

This is a song… about a fox! Fay [Hield] and Gillian [Tolfrey] used to sing versions of this when they were little, but these words were put to the tune of The Carrion Crow by the luscious Mick Peat, of Radio Derby fame.

Jon Boden sang Barry Dransfield's version of Daddy Fox as the 2 January 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Pete Coe sang Daddy Fox in 2011 on his CD Tall Tailes.

John and Sally Kirkpatrick sang Old Father Fox on their 2013 Fledg'ling CD Every Mortal Place. He noted:

People of my generation who grew up listening to Children's Favourites on the BBC Light Programme had no idea there were so many sturdy English alternatives to the way the American singer Burl Ives gave us The Fox. It felt as though he was on every weekend. In fact the song has been around for well over two hundred years, and has been collected and recorded no end of times from traditional English singers. The usual title is The Fox, or The Hungry Fox, or Old Daddy Fox, but Ray Driscoll had picked it up in Shropshire, uniquely, so it seems, as Old Father Fox.

Ray was more of a pub singer than a concert artist, and not only did he take this at quite a lick, but also turned in a crowd-pleasing semi-tone run in a couple of the lines of the verse. This kind of thing doesn't please all of us, however, and I've left that out, as well as tinkering with the words here and there. And foxes never seem to feel the need to be in that much of a hurry, except in dire emergencies, so I've slowed the tempo right down too. But apart from changing the words, the tune, and the speed, this is exactly how Gwilym Davies recorded it from Mr Driscoll!

Steve Roud included The Hungry Fox in 2012 in The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. James Findlay, Brian Peters, Bella Hardy and Lucy Ward sang it a year later on the accompanying Fellside CD The Liberty to Choose.

Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer sang Daddy Fox in 2016 on their CD Paper of Pins. They noted:

A well loved and often sung traditional song that has roots in many places in the UK. A new melody though—one which we hope accents the humour of the song’s events. Interspersed with a reel The Chicken Run.

GreenMatthews sang Daddy Fox on their 2019 CD Roots & Branches. They noted:

A tale of vulpine larceny learned from the singing of Barry Dransfield. Unusually for an English folk song, this is a song about a fox in which Reynard is still alive by the end.

Gigspanner Big Band sang Daddy Fox in 2020 on their CD Natural Invention. They noted:

The cunning and resourceful nature of the Fox has been a global theme of folk song and tale for centuries.

This particular song’s earliest incarnations date back to the 15th Century, and are written in Middle English, and whilst the language is archaic, the story has barely changed throughout its retelling.

The much later version we have chosen is from Dartmoor and was recorded by the Young Tradition, who in turn learnt it indirectly from Cyril Tawney. It is partnered with the Morris tune Not for Joe.

Lewis Barfoot sang The Fox on her 2021 CD Glenaphuca. She noted:

The album is a folk prayer to my ancestors and largely focuses on the feminine and my Irish roots. But I wanted to honour the masculine and my father in the album and what better way than to sing my favourite song that my dad used to sing to us as children—The Fox. I couldn’t get enough of him playing it and I would love singing along to the “bones o, bones o”. His fingerpicking style would tickle my bones with delight and was the inspiration for me to learn guitar.

Lyrics

Harry Burgess sings The Hungry Fox

A fox jumped up in his angry plight
And begged the moon to give him light,
For he had many miles to trot that night
Before he reached his den-home,
Den-ho, den-ho.
For he had many miles to trot that night
Before he reached his den home.

At last he came to the farmer's yard
Where the ducks and geese declared they heard.
Their nerves should be shaken and their rest disturbed
By a visit from Mr Fox-o,
Fox-o, fox home.
Their nerves shall be shaken and their rest disturbed
By a visit from Mr Fox home.

He took the black duck by the neck
And swung him right across his back.
The black duck cried out, “Quack, quack, quack,”
With his legs hangling down and down-ho,
Down-ho, down-ho.
The black duck cried out, “Quack, quack, quack,”
With his legs all hangling down and down home.

Then old Mrs Slipper-Slapper jumped out of bed
And out of the window popped her head.
Said, “John, John, John, the black duck is gone,
The fox is off to his ken-ho,
Ken-ho, ken-ho.”
Saying, “John, John, John, the black duck is gone,
The fox is off to his ken home.”

Then John ran up to the top of the hill.
He blew a blast most loud and shrill.
Said the fox, “That is very pretty music still.
But I'm always home to my den-ho,
Den-ho, den-o.”
Said the fox, “That is very pretty music still,
And now I’m off to my den-ho.”

At last the fox got home to his den,
His dear little foxes eight, nine, ten.
Says, “Ah, you're in luck, Here’s a good fat duck
With his legs hangling down and down-ho,
Down-ho, down-ho.”
Says, “Ah, you’re in luck, Here’s a good fat duck
With his legs hangling down and down home.”

He sat down to dinner with his hungry wife,
Did very well without a fork or knife.
Never had a better duck in all their life
And the little ones pick the bones-o,
Bones-o, bones-o
Never had a better duck in all their life
And the little ones pick the bones-o.

The Young Tradition sing Daddy Fox

Daddy Fox he went out one chilly night
He prayed to the moon for to give him light,
For he'd many many miles to go that night
Before he came to his den-o,
Den-o, den-o
For he'd many many miles to go that night
Before he came to his den-o

So he grabbed the grey goose by the neck
And he throwed a duck all across his back
And he heeded not their quivvy-quivvy-quack
Nor the legs all a-dangeling down-o
Down-o, down-o,
He heeded not their quivvy-quivvy-quack
Nor the legs all a-dangeling down-o.

Then Old Mother Twiddle-Twoddle jumped out of bed
And out of the window she stuck her little head
Crying, “Oh John oh, now the grey goose is dead
And the fox is away to his den-o.”
Den-o, den-o,
Crying, “Oh John oh, now the grey goose is dead
And the fox is away to his den-o.”

So John then he rode up to the top of the hill
He blowed his little horn both loud and shrill.
“Play on,” said Reynard, “with your music still
While I trot away to my den-o,”
Den-o, den-o,
“Play on,” said Reynard, “with your music still
While I trot away to my den-o.”

Then old Daddy Fox and his cubs and his wife
They cut up the goose without any knife,
Saying, “I've never ever had such a supper in my life
And the cubs they can pick on the bones-o,”
Bones-o, bones-o,
Saying, “I've never ever had such a supper in my life
And the cubs they can pick on the bones-o.”

Cyril Tawney sings Old Daddy Fox

Old Daddy Fox went out one night
And prayed to the moon to give him light,
For he had a long way to go that night
Before he reached the town-o,
The town-o, the town-o,
He had a long way to go that night
Before he reached the town-o.

When he reached the farmyard gate
The ducks and the geese went gruddy-gruddy-quack.
“Oh don't be alarmed and don't be afeared
For the fattest of you shall grease my beard
Before I leave the town-o,
The town-o, the town-o,
The fattest of you shall grease my beard
Before I leave the town-o.”

The old grey goose gave the loudest quack
He picked her up upon his back.
He picked her up upon his back
And the blood come a-trickeling down-o,
A-down-o, a-down-o,
He picked her up upon his back
And the blood come a-trickeling down-o

Old Gramma Snipper-Snapper jumped out of bed,
Pulled down the window and popped out her head,
Said, “Arise Jack, arise, for the grey gooose is dead
And the fox has left the town-o,
The town-o, the town-o,
Arise Jack, arise, for the grey gooose is dead
And the fox has left the town-o.”

So Jack got up and he made alarm,
He saddled his horse and he blew his horn,
And he saw the fox on the other hill
Saying, “You can't catch me, I'm a good man still
And I like the sound of your horn-o,
Your horn-o, your horn-o,
You can't catch me, I'm a good man still
And I like the sound of your horn-o.”

When he got home to his old den,
Out come the young ones, eight, nine, ten,
The fox and his wife ate the grey goose then
And the young ones picked up the bones-o,
The bones-o, the bones-o,
The fox and his wife ate the grey goose then
And the young ones picked up the bones-o.

Freda Palmer sings The Fox and the Grey Goose

The stars were shining and all things bright.
“Ha-ha”, said the fox, “it's a very fine night
For me to go through the town-di-o,
For me to go through the town.”

The fox when he came to yonders stile
He p(r)icked up his ears and listened awhile.
“Ha-ha”, said the fox, “it's but a short mile,
From this to yonder town-di-o,
From this to yonder town.”

The fox when he came to the farmer's gate,
Who should he see but the farmer's drake.
“I love you well for your master's sake,
But I long to be picking your bones-i-o,
But I long to be picking your bones.”

The grey goose ran around the stack,
“Ha-ha”, said the fox, “you're very fat,
You'll do very well to ride on my back,
From this to yonder town-di-o,
From this to yonder town.”

The farmer's wife she jumped out of bed
And out of the window she popped her head.
“Oh husband, oh husband, the geese are all dead,
The fox has been through the town-di-o,
The fox has been through the town.”

The farmer he loaded his pistol with lead,
And shot the old rogue of the fox through the head.
“Ha-ha”, said the farmer, “I think you're quite dead,
No more you will trouble the town-di-o,
No more you will trouble the town.”

Melanie Harrold sings A Fox Jumped Up

Oh a fox jumped up one winter's night
And he begged the moon to give him light,
For he'd many, many miles to trod that night
Before he reached his den-o.

And the first place he came to was a farmer's yard
Where the ducks and the geese declared it hard
That their nerves should be shaken and their rest so marred
By a visit from the fox-o.

And he took the grey goose by the neck,
He swung him right up across his back,
The grey goose cried out, “Quack, quack, quack,”
With his legs all dangling down-o.

Then Old Mother Slipper-Slopper jumped out of bed
And out of the window she popped her head
Saying, “John, John, the grey goose is gone
And the fox is away to his den-o.”

So John ran up to the top of the hill
And be blew his whistle loud and shrill,
Said the fox, “That is pretty music, still
I'd rather be in my den-o.”

So the fox went back to his hungry den
And his dear little foxes eight, nine, ten,
They said, “Good daddy, you must go there again,
You bring such cheer from the farm-o.”

So the fox and his wife without any strife
Said they never ate a better goose in all their life,
They did very, very well without a fork or a knife
And the little ones picked the bones-o.

Ray Driscoll sings Old Father Fox

Old Father Fox came out one night
And he prayed for the moon for to give him light.
For he'd many a mile to travel that night
Before he reached his den-o,
Den-o, den-o,
For he'd many a mile to travel that night
Before he reached his den-o.

Oh he grabbed the grey goose by the head
He gave him a bite and he was dead.
And he flung him back across his back
With the legs a-dangling down-o,
Down-o, down-o,
Oh he threw the goose across his back
With the legs a-dangling down-o.

Old Mother Slipper-Slopper jumped out of bed
And out of the window popped her head.
She said, “John, John, the grey goose is dead
And the fox is away to his den-o,
Den-o, den-o,
Oh John, John, John, the grey goose is gone,
The fox is away to his den-o.”

The farmer went out to the top of the hill
And he blew his horn both loud and shrill.
The fox said, “Blow till your head to fill
For I am away to my den-o,
Den-o, den-o,”
He said, “Oh you can blow to your fill
For I am away to my den-o.”

And then he got home to his own little wife
They cut up the goose without her knife,
Said, “The best feed I've had in my life
And the cups can have the bones-o,
Bones-o, bones-o,”
He said, “The best feed I've had in my life
And the cups can have the bones-o.”

The Witches of Elswick sing Daddy Fox

Daddy Fox went out on a chilly night
    With a ling dong, dilly dong, kyro me
Praying for the moon to give him light
    With a ling dong, dilly dong, kyro me

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Hey falee fala falero, hey falero lero lee;
Up jumped John, a-ringing on his bell,
With a ling dong, dilly dong, kyro me.

He ran till he came to a quick kip pen
The ducks and geese they lay therein

He grabbed the grey goose by the neck
Threw a little duck all across his back

Old Mrs Flipper-Flopper jumped out of bed
Through the window she stuck her little head

And John rode up to the top of the hill
He blew his little horn both loud and shrill

The fox went back to his cozy den
Little ones were there, they were eight, nine and ten

The fox and his wife without any strife
Cut up the goose with a fork and a knife