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The Whitsuntide Carol

[ Roud 3186 ; trad.]

The Young Tradition sang The Whitsuntide Carol in 1967 on their second album, So Cheerfully Round. Heather Wood commented in the album liner notes:

The Whitsuntide Carol which we sing was collected from Thomas Coningsby of Whaddon in Cambridgeshire. He tells how the men of the village used to go into the woods on Whit Sunday morning, cut oak branches and lay them on the doorsteps of all the houses. Then they would go round in a group singing this carol. It seems strange that the high moral tone of the early verses should be linked with what is obviously a pagan custom.

English Tapestry (Ruth and Brian Britain and at the time Andrew Taylor) sang Whitsuntide Carol in 1974 on the fundraiser album The First Folk Review Record. The liner notes commented:

Published as The Whitsun Song in English Dance and Song, Vol. XXXVI, No. 1; tune recorded by Peter Kennedy from Thomas Coningsby, 1956. Arranged by Brian Britain.

Lyrics

The Young Tradition sing The Whitsuntide Carol

Now Whitsuntide is come you very well do know,
Come serve the Lord we must before we do go.
Come serve him truly with all your might and heart
And then from heaven your soul shall never depart.

How do you know how long we have to live?
For when we die oh then what would we give?
For being sure of having our resting place
When we have run our simple wretched race.

Down in those gardens where flowers grow in ranks,
Down on your knees and to the Lord give thanks.
Down on your knees and pray both night and day,
Pray unto the Lord that He will lead the way.

Come all those little children all in the streets we meet
All in their pastimes so even and complete
It's how you may hear them lie, boast, curse and swear
Before that they do know one word of any prayer.

Now we have brought you all this royal branch of oak,
God bless our Queen Victoria and all the royal folk
God bless our Queen and all this world beside
That the Lord may bless you all this merry Whitsuntide.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Kate Taylor for details on English Tapestry. See also the Mudcat Café thread Help: Are English Tapestry still about?