A Calling-On Song
This is the introductory track from Steeleye Span's first album, Hark! The Village Wait, sung by Maddy Prior, Gay Woods, Tim Hart and Terry Woods. A live recording from The Forum, London on September 2, 1995 was released on the CD The Journey. The original album's sleeve notes say:
Songs similar to this one are used by the leaders of rapper and long sword dance teams to preface the dancing and to drum up a crowd. The duration of these songs depended on how long it took for a satisfactory audience to assemble. It was customary to introduce each member of the team as the son of a famous person such as Bonaparte, Nelson, Wellington, etc. This, however is our own “calling-on”, the tune and the basis for the words coming from the captain's song of the Earsdon Sword Dance Team.
Ashley Hutchings: “It's a completely contemporary song, but in traditional style, which I wrote especially for the album.”
Steeleye Span also used to introduce the band to their live audience with the song Beg Your Leave; but sadly they never recorded it.
Compare to this the Watersons'
Ye Noble Spectators
on their album
A Yorkshire Garland,
the Watersons' Earsdon Sword Dance Song on their album Frost and Fire,
Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne's Ripon Sword Dance and Song on his album Outway Songster,
and John Kirkpatrick's Sword Dance Song & Tune on the CD Wassail! A Traditional Celebration of an English Midwinter.
Sorry, I can't show the lyrics here as I don't have the copyright owners' permission to publish them. But please feel free and ask me to send you the song's lyrics.