> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy
> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Here's Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy
> Spiers & Boden > Songs > Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy
> Blue Murder > Songs > Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

[ Roud 165 ; Ballad Index E153D ; Full English FK/12/122/2 ; Bodleian Roud 165 ; Wiltshire Roud 165 ; trad.]

Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy is one of the best-known songs from the repertoire of the Copper Family. It was published in the first issue of the Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, in 1899, and is printed in The Copper Family Song Book and in Bob Copper's book, A Song for Every Season. Bob and John Copper sang it on their 4 LP box set of 1971, A Song for Every Season, that accompanied the book and Jill and Jon Copper sang it on the first Coppersongs LP. Bob, John and Jill Copper and Jon Dudley sang it in 2003 on Song Links: A Celebration of English Traditional Songs and Their Australian Variants (with Cathie O'Sullivan supplying the Australian variant Lovely Nancy) and the Young Coppers sang it in 2008 on their CD Passing Out. This video shows the Young Coppers live in April 2008 or earlier:

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior recorded Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 1968 for their first duo album, Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 1. The record's sleeve notes comment on this song and on Farewell Nancy:

These songs are on the same theme, and are two of a tremendous body of songs which deal with a sailor leaving his girl-friend to go to sea. Although nowadays these songs have little relevance it must be remembered that at the time they were written people rarely ventured from their own area, and also that sea voyages lasted for a number of years during which time there could be no communication with home. Keeping these facts in mind it is easy to understand why so much of nautical balladry is written on this theme.

Peter Bellamy and Chris Birch sang Here's Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy on Bellamy's third solo LP, The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate. He also sang it live at the Folk Studio, Norwich, on June 22, 1971. This concert was published on the LP Won't You Go My Way?. A.L. Lloyd commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

Oldtime sailors are popularly imagined as hairy-chested bawlers, but many of their songs belie this stereotype, for they are often remarkable for tender lyricism, as with this example. It has an amiable history, for it's one of the first pieces ever noted from the Copper family of Rottingdean, being noted in 1898 by Mrs. Kate Lee from James and Thomas Copper, the grandfathers of well-known Bob and Ron of our day. It was published in the very first issue of the Journal of the Folk Song Society. Some country singers call it The Poor Jolly Sailor Lads, at it comes to us from the eighteenth century.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 1973 on the Topic LP The Valiant Sailor: Songs and Ballads of Nelson's Navy.

Derek Sarjeant and Hazel King sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on their 1976 album Hills & Dales.

John Goodluck sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 1977 on his Traditional Sound Recordings album Monday's Childe.

Folly Bridge sang Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy in 1992 on their second WildGoose cassette, Unabridged. Claire Lloyd commented:

Folly Bridge's version of a traditional English song, originally made popular by the Copper Family, about a man saying his goodbyes before going off to fight for his country in the Royal Navy.

John Roberts & Tony Barrand learned Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy from the singing of the Copper Family and sang it in 1992 on their CD A Present from the Gentlemen.

Brian Peters Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 1998 on his CD The Beast in the Box.

John Spiers & Jon Boden sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on their 2001 CD, Through & Through. Jon Boden also sang it as the August 13, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day; in the accompanying blog he wrote: “A classic. I’ve heard many versions but I think my favourite is still Maddy Prior & Tim Hart.”

Louis Killen sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 2002 on the Revels CD Homeward Bound.

Blue Murder (Waterson:Carthy plus Coope, Boyes & Simpson) sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 2002 on their CD No One Stands Alone. This recording was reissued in 2003 on the Watersons anthology The Definitive Collection.

The Cecil Sharp Centenary Collective sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy in 2003 on their CD As I Cycled Out on a May Morning.

Barry Dransfield sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on his 2005 CD Unruly.

Martin Simpson sang Here's Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on his 2005 CD Kind Letters. This track was also included on the compilation Folk Awards 2006. He commented in his liner notes:

I first heard Here's Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy so long ago that I don't know where it was or who sang it. Since then it has resurfaced regularly in my consciousness. The Copper Family are the original source. I had a delightful time working with Danú on their contributions to this records, it was as if I had my own organic orchestra. They so beautifully responded to the material and to my arrangement ideas that their work exceeded my heady imaginings.

Pilgrims' Way sang Adieu Lovely Nancy in 2010 on their eponymous debut EP, Pilgrims' Way and in 2011 on their CD Wayside Courtesies. They commented in their sleeve notes:

Learned form the lovely Julie Henigan [of Springfield, Missouri] and collected from Bertha Lauderdale in Fayetteville, Arkansas, this Ozarks version of the popular British broadside is an example of a song that has travelled many miles—and long may it continue to do so.

Alfred Williams collected The Isle of Wight. from the singing of Mrs Sarah Timbrel. Steve Roud classified it as Roud 165 because of its first line, but it's quite a different song. The Dollymops from the Isle of Wight sang it in 2013 on their WildGoose CD Wight Cockade. They noted:

How could we resist this song from the unpublished manuscripts of Wiltshire collector, Alfred Williams? He had it from Mrs Sarah Timbrel of Quenington, Gloucestershire in 1916. As with all Williams’ work there was no tune, so we spliced it to a version of Swansea Town, collected by George Gardiner in Hampshire in 1905. Several months later we discovered that Annie Dearman & Steve Harrison had used the same tune for their fine song, The Bonny Lass of Barking Town, so we ‘developed’ the melody a little bit to disguise any similarities!

Tony and Steve Haynes sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on their 2013 CD Special Brew.

Andy Turner sang Here’s Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy as the September 18, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. Although he referred to Tim Hart and Maddy Prior's recording in his blog too, he learned the song from the Copper Family.

Kirsty Bromley sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy on her 2016 single Absent Mother.

Lyrics

Tim Hart & Maddy Prior sing Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

Adieu, sweet lovely Nancy, ten thousand times adieu,
I am going across the ocean, love, to seek for something new.
    Come change your ring with me, dear girl,
    Come change your ring with me,
For it might be a token of true love while I am on the sea.

And when I'm far upon the sea you'll know not where I am.
Kind letters I will write to you from every foreign land.
    The secrets of your heart, dear girl,
    Are the best of my good will,
So let your body be where it might, my heart will be with you still.

There's a heavy storm arising, see how it gathers round,
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are fighting for the crown.
    There's nothing to protect us, love,
    Or keep us from the cold,
On the ocean wide, where we must fight like jolly seamen bold.

There's tinkers, tailors, shoemakers, lie snoring fast asleep,
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are ploughing through the deep.
    Our officers commanded us,
    And them we must obey,
Expecting every moment for to get cast away.

But when the wars are over, there'll be peace on every shore,
We'll return to our wives and our families, and the girls that we adore.
    We'll drink out liquor merrily,
    And spend our money free,
And when the money is all gone - we'll boldly go to sea.

Peter Bellamy and Chris Birch sing Here's Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy

Here's adieu, sweet lovely Nancy, ten thousand times adieu,
I'm a-going around the ocean, love, to seek for something new.
    Come change your ring with me, dear girl,
    Come change your ring with me,
For it might be a token of true love while I am on the sea.

When I am far upon the sea you knows not where I am.
Kind letters I will write to you from every foreign land.
    The secrets of your mind, dear girl,
    Are the best of my good will,
So let my body be where it might, my heart is with you still.

There's a heavy storm a-rising, see how it gather round,
While we poor sailors are on the sea, are fighting for the crown.
    Our officers commanded us
    And them we must obey,
Expecting every moment for to get cast away.

There are tinkers, tailors and shoemakers, lie snoring in their sleep,
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are ploughing through the deep.
    There's nothing to defend us, love,
    Nor to keep us from the cold,
On the ocean wide, where we must bide like jolly seamen bold.

But when the wars are all over there'll be peace on every shore,
We will drink to our wives and our children and the girls that we adore.
    We'll call for liquor merrily,
    And spend our money free,
And when our money it is all gone we'll boldly go to sea.

Blue Murder sing Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

Here's adieu, sweet lovely Nancy, ten thousand times adieu,
I'm a-going across the ocean, love, to seek for something new.
    Come change your ring with me, dear girl,
    Come change your ring with me,
For it might be a token of true love while I am on the sea.

When I am far upon the sea you know not where I am.
Kind letters I will write to you from every foreign land.
    The secrets of your mind, dear girl,
    Are the best of my good will,
So let my body be where it might, my heart will be with you still.

There's a heavy storm a-rising, see how it gathers round,
While we poor sailors are on the sea, are fighting for the crown.
    Our officers commanding us
    And them we must obey,
Expecting every moment for to get cast away.

There are tinkers, tailors and shoemakers, lie snoring fast asleep,
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are ploughing through the deep.
    There's nothing to defend us, love,
    Or to keep us from the cold,
On the ocean wide, where we must bide like jolly seamen bold.

And when the wars are all over there'll be peace on every shore,
We'll drink to our wives and our children and the girls that we adore.
    We will call for liquor merrily,
    And spend our money free,
And when our money is all gone we'll boldly go to sea.

The Dollymops sing The Isle of Wight

Here's adieu, my lovely Nancy, ten thousand times adieu!
For the rout is come this afternoon, good lass, what shall we do?

Chorus:
Good lass, what shall we do? Good lass, what shall we do?
For the rout is come this afternoon, good lass, what shall we do?

Well, let's go unto the officer and unto him we'll say,
“I have brought a pretty fancy girl that I want to take away.”

Chorus:
That I want to take away, that I want to take away,
I have brought a pretty fancy girl that I want to take away.

“Oh, no,” replied the officer, “Such things can never be;
There's not a lad in regiment shall take his lass with he.

Chorus:
That shall take his lass with he, that shall take his lass with he,
No there's not a lad in regiment shall take his lass with he.

“And if my orders you won't obey I'll have you close confined.”
Says he, “My dearest Nancy girl, I must leave you far behind.”

Chorus:
I must leave you far behind, I must leave you far behind,
Says he, My dearest Nancy girl, I must leave you far behind.

So they walked together down the strand till they were out of sight,
“I will send you letters plenty, love, when I gain the Isle of Wight.”

Chorus:
When I gain the Isle of Wight, when I gain the Isle of Wight,
I will send you letters plenty, love, when I gain the Isle of Wight.

For the drum and the trumpet they did sound and those pipe did merrily play,
As through the town called Isle of Wight we boldly marched away.

Chorus:
Yes we boldly marched away, we boldly marched away,
As through the town called Isle of Wight we boldly marched away.