> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Serving Girl's Holiday

Serving Girl's Holiday

[trad.]

Maddy Prior sang Serving Girl's Holiday in 1971 on her and Tim Hart's third duo album, Summer Solstice. She returned to the song in 2012 when she, Hannah James and Giles Lewin sang it on their CD 3 for Joy. Maddy Prior commented in their liner notes:

I found this poem in a book that I suspect had a translation from Middle English of The Serving Maid's Holiday from Rossell Hope Robbins, Secular Lyrics of the 14th and 15th Century. I set it to the tune of Orientus Partibus which I heard on a David Munroe album.

The translation Maddy mentioned is probably The Servant Girl's Holiday, no. 58 in Medieval English Verse, translated with an introduction by Brian Stone, London: Penguin Books, 1964, 1971. Maddy sang only half of the verses and left out the naughty ones.

Kate Rusby sang an even shorter Serving Girl's Holiday in 2008 on her CD Sweet Bells.

Lyrics

Maddy Prior sings Serving Girl's HolidayKate Rusby sings Serving Girl's Holiday

I've waited longing for today:
Spindle, bobbin and spool, away!
In joy and bliss I'm off to play
Upon this high holiday.

I've waited longing for today:
Spindle, bobbin and spool, away!
In joy and bliss I'm off to play
Upon this high holiday.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And spindle, bobbin and spool, away,
For joy that it's a holiday!

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And spindle, bobbin and spool, away,
For joy that is high a holiday!

The dirt upon the floor's unswept,
The fireplace isn't cleaned and kept.
I haven't cut the rushes yet
Upon this high holiday.

The floors haven't been cleaned or swept,
The fireplace hasn't cleaned or kept.
I haven't cut the rushes yet
Upon this high holiday.

In pails the milk has got to go;
I have to spread this bowl of dough —
It clogs my nails and fingers so
As I knead this high holiday.

The milk into the pails must go:
I have to roll this bowl of dough —
It clogs my nails and fingers so
Upon this high holiday.

The cooking herbs I must fetch in
And fix my kerchief under my chin.
Darling Jack, lend me a pin
To fix me well this holiday!

And when we stop beside the track
At the inn, this Sunday, Jack
Will whet my whistle and pay my whack
As on every holiday.

And when we stop along the track
Unto the inn, this Sunday, Jack
Will whet my whistle and pay my whack
Upon this high holiday.

(repeat first verse)

The Servant Girl's Holiday

I've waited longing for today:
Spindle, bobbin, and spool, away!
In joy and bliss I'm off to play
Upon this high holiday.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Spindle, bobbin, and spool, away,
For joy that it's a holiday!

The dirt upon the floor's unswept,
The fireplace isn't cleaned and kept,
I haven't cut the rushes yet
Upon this high holiday.

The cooking herbs I must fetch in,
And fix my kerchief under my chin.
Darling Jack, lend me a pin
To fix me well this holiday!

Now midday has almost come,
And all my chores are still not done
I'll clean my shoes till they become
Bright for a high holiday.

In pails the milk has got to go;
I ought to spread this bowl of dough -
It clogs my nails and fingers so
As I knead this holiday!

Jack will take me on my way,
And with me he will want to play:
I needn't fear my lady's nay
On such a high holiday!

And when we stop beside the track
At the inn this Sunday, Jack
Will wet my whistle and pay my whack
As on every holiday.

Then he'll take me by the hand
And lay me down upon the land
And make my buttocks feel like sand
Upon this high holiday.

In he'll push and out he'll go,
With me beneath him lying low:
“By God's death, you do me woe
Upon this high holiday.”

Soon my belly began to swell
As round and great as any bell;
And to my dame I dared not tell
What happened to me that holiday.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Origins: Serving Girl's Holiday and Lyr Req: Spindle, bobbin and spool away.