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Sweet Jenny of the Moor

[ Roud 581 ; Laws N34 ; G/D 5:1050 ; Henry H107 ; Ballad Index LN34 ; Bodleian Roud 581 ; trad.]

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang broken-token ballad Ginny on the Moor in 1973 on his Argo album Harry the Hawker Is Dead. He returned to it in 1992 on his Fellside CD Mussels on a Tree.

Tony Rose sang Sweet Jenny of the Moor in 2003 on Martyn Wyndham-Read's project Song Links: A Celebration of English Traditional Songs and Their Australian Variants. It was probably his last recording as he died in the year before this anthology was published; the set's very extensive notes give no recording dates though.—Dave de Hugard sang the corresponding Australian variant Ginny of the Moor.

Jim Moray sang Jenny of the Moor in 2010 on his CD In Modern History.

Nick Dow sang Jenny of the Moor on his 2018 album of unaccompanied traditional folk songs, Far and Wide. He noted:

The words are in Colm O'Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads. I wrote the tune in 1979, before the days of Roud Numbers and internet resources. If you do not like the tune in the book you had to write your own; it was that or nothing. I recorded the song in 1980 with guitar backing, and it was taken up by various singers including Jim Moray who recorded it a while back. It gave the song a new lease of life and I found myself singing it without guitar at the Whitby Folk Festival. I prefer it that way now, and have included it here.

Alison Frosdick sang Jenny of the Moor on Amsher's 2018 album of Hampshire songs collected by Lucy Broadwood in Oxfordshire, Patience Vaisey at Adwell 1892. Bob Askew noted:

This was fading in popularity by 1892. Only six versions were noted in the next two decades in Southern England, and one in Scotland. It is a ‘Broken Token’ song where the lover returns unrecognised after a long time away. These songs were hugely popular because many lovers were long parted by service at sea, or like Patience by working as servants far away.


Tony Rose sings Sweet Jenny of the Moor

One morn for recreation I walked by the seaside,
Oh the sun was a gently rising bedecked in his pride,
I beheld a lovely fair maid standing by her cottage door,
Oh her cheeks were like roses, was sweet Jenny of the moor.

I said, “My pretty fair maid, why so early do you rise?”
“To take the sweet air whilst the lark soars in the sky.
And it's here I love to wander where the breakers do roar,
A-gathering of seaweed,” said sweet Jenny of the moor.

So we both sat down together by some pleasant shady side,
I said, “With your consent I will make you my bride,
For of wealth I have plenty brought from a foreign shore,
I'd be proud to win the heart of sweet Jenny of the moor.”

“I've a true love of my own, though long he's been from me,
It is true I'll be to him while he is on the sea,
For his vows were fondly spoken as he parted from my door,
And I'll wait till his return,” said sweet Jenny of the moor.

“If your true love was a sailor pray tell to me his name.”
“Oh his name was Dennis Riley and from Newry town he came.
And with laurels I'll entwine him when he returns to shore
And we'll join our hands in wedlock,” said sweet Jenny of the moor.

“If Dennis was your true love I knew him right well,
Whilst fighting in battle by an angry ball he fell;
So behold your true love's token, which upon his hand he wore.”
And she fell into my arms, did sweet Jenny of the moor.

“Oh since you've proved so faithful, my true love,” I cried,
“Now behold it is your Dennis, he is standing at your side.
So come let us be united and live happy on the shore,
And the bells shall ring merry and I'll go to sea no more.”