Hunting the Wren

Bill Hodghead billho at microsoft.com
Fri Sep 8 10:34:26 PDT 1995


Greetings all from Liam Mac Mhuire,

Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

| >From: Lark of Cire Freunlaven
| >Is this the same song as is on the Chieftains "Bells of Dublin"
| tape/CD called "The Wren"? If so, I believe I picked up the lyrics at
| Digital Tradition, but if not I can get them to you, and possibly a
| postscript sheet music file in time if you really need it. Here's the
| test; see if the following lyrics are a match:
| >
| >        The wren, oh the wren, he's the king of all birds
| >        St. stevens day was caught in the firs
| >        Although he was little his honor was great
| >        won't you give me a _____ (I forget this word)
| >        for to bury the wren
| >
| >        Rolly, rolly, where is your nest?
| >        It's in the bush that I love best
| >        It's in the tree the holly tree
| >        That's where the boys do follow me
| >
| >And there's more, but I don't have it in my brain at the moment and
| can't find it on my hard drive.  I can get it if you're interested -
| let me know.
| >

Probably a cool song, though not the one I was looking for. I'd be 
interested in anything along this line, where the words and music can 
be found in a period source.

ciorstan macAmhlaidh sent a version of the song I'm looking for 
(reproduced below).  The words I know are slightly different, of 
course, (something like "Where are you going says Robin the Bobbin 
..."), but we all know how folk songs will vary.

It sounds like Hunting the Wren is "traditional"/"sounds old" so far, 
but is it period? Does anyone have any early docs of the words or tune ?

thanks,
Liam Mac Mhuire

| From: Brett Williams  <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>
| And I learned an entirely different version from Holly Tannen, who got
| hers from oral tradition as still sung in southern England.
|
| Where are you going, says Milder to Malder
| Where are you going, says Festle to Fose
| We may not tell you. says the younger to the elder
| Out to the green wood, says John the Red Nose
|
| What shall we do there, says Milder to Malder
| What shall we do there, says Festle to Fose
| We may not tell you, says the younger to the elder
| Hunt for the Cutty Wren, says John the Red Nose
|
| How shall we shoot her, says Milder to Malder
| With bows and with arrows, says Festle to Fose
| That will not do then, says the younger to the elder
| With big guns and knives then, says John the Red Nose
|
| How shall we cut her up, says Milder to Malder
| WIth forks and with knives, says Festle to Fose
| That will not do then, says the younger to the elder
| With hatchets and with cleavers, says John the Red Nose
|
| How shall we cook her, says Milder to Malder
| With pots and with pans, says Festle to Fose
| That will not do then, says the younger to the elder
| With a bloody big brass cauldron, says John the Red Nose
|
| Who'll get the spareribs, says Milder to Malder
| Who'll get the spareribs, says Festle to Fose
| We may not tell you, says the younger to the elder
| Give 'em all to the poor then, says John the Red Nose
|
| It's my personal suspicion that the tune for this particular version is
| old-- perhaps a couple of centuries, as it falls in the Aeolian
| mode/natural minor scale and, on recall, omits one note in that scale,
| but I can't back that up with anything other than opinion and some
| fifteen years of experience in folk song collection.  This is a
| processional song with a steady pace suitable for walking; it's melody
| has rhythmic counterpoint vs. the steady beat of feet.
|
| ciorstan macAmhlaidh

 




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