Categotry Archives: New Notes On Old Tunes


New Notes on Old Tunes 02 – One Summer’s Morning

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Categories: Blog Posts, Mary Kidson (Roberts), New Notes On Old Tunes, One Summer's Morning, Source Singers, Video, Tags: , , , , , ,


This version of “One Summer’s Morning” was collected by Frank Kidson from the singing of his mother Mary Kidson (Roberts) who is said to have heard it sung in Leeds in approximately 1820. It was a popular song particularly in Yorkshire but also in the North East at that time although the tune is likely to be much older. In “Traditional Tunes” Frank Kidson states: “The song itself is apparently of the date of the latter part of the eighteenth century, and as some reference is made to the “Hollanders,” it may perhaps be more distinctly referred to the period of an expedition to repel French encroachments in Flanders and the Netherlands in 1793. The tune is no doubt older than this date, and may have belonged to an earlier song, now lost or which has changed its tune.”

The song as printed in “Traditional Tunes” consists of six verses although many broadside versions of the lyrics often only featured the first, second, fourth and fifth stanzas. It is unclear as to whether Mary Kidson included all six of these verses in her version of the song as this is not stated in “Traditional Tunes”. However, Frank Kidson does make reference to the words printed in J.H. Dixon’s 1857 publication; “Songs of the Peasantry of England” Again, all six verses of the ballad are printed in the Dixon book, but with the addition of the following information; “we have met with a copy printed at Devonport. The readings are in general not so good; but in one or two instances they are apparently more ancient, and are, consequently, here adopted.  The Devonport copy contains two verses, not preserved in our traditional version.  These we have incorporated in our present text, in which they form the third and last stanzas.” I think it very possible that Kidson used the lyrics printed in “Songs of the Peasantry of England” to augment the narrative of the version sung by his mother.

This song is also commonly known as “The White Cockade” although there are many versions of the story featuring different coloured cockades (e.g. blue, green, orange). For those of you who don’t know, a cockade is a rosette style brooch worn by both men and women on a hat or a lapel. These cockades were usually of a circular or oval design, made from ribbon and would depict a particular political, ethical or social allegiance depending on the colours that were incorporated. In the case of this song the white cockade depicts the soldier’s military allegiance as he enlists to fight against the Hollander’s. It is documented that the white cockade was worn by supporters of the Jacobite Rebellions. There were three main Jacobite uprisings; the first occurring in 1689, the second in 1715-16 and the third in 1745-46. James VII (Scotland) and II (England) ruled from 1685 until 1689 when he was replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband the Dutch Prince, William of Orange. This change of power inspired the first Jacobite uprising. “In 1689, the Jacobites were opposed by the Williamites, or Whigs; those Britons who supported the Protestant cause and would not tolerate a Catholic kingdom.”

Subject wearing a white cockade pinned to his hat.

Subject wearing a white cockade pinned to his hat.

In light of this information, and of the reference to “Hollanders” within the song, it would seem to lend some credibility to the suggestion that this song was established much earlier than 1820.


It was one summer’s morning as I went o’er the moss,
I had no thought of ‘listing, till the soldiers did me cross;
They kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl and down
They advanced me some money, they advanced me some money,
They advanced me some money, ten guineas and a crown.

‘Tis true my love has ‘listed and he wears a white cockade,
He is a handsome, tall young man, besides a roving blade;
He is a handsome, tall young man and he’s gone to serve the King,
Oh, my very heart is breaking, my very heart is breaking,
My very heart is breaking, all for the love of him.

My love is tall and handsome and comely for to see,
And by a sad misfortune a soldier now is he;
I hope the man that ‘listed him may not prosper night or day,
For I wish that the Hollanders, I wish that the Hollanders,
I wish that the Hollanders may sink him in the sea.

Oh, may he never prosper and may he never thrive,
Nor anything he takes in hand so long as he’s alive;
May the very grass he treads upon, the ground refuse to grow,
Since he’s been the only cause, since he’s been the only cause,
Since he’s been the only cause of my sorrow, grief and woe.

Then he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped her flowing eyes,
“Leave off those lamentations, likewise those doleful sighs,
Leave off your grief and sorrow, while I march o’er the plain,
We’ll be married in the springtime, we’ll be married in the springtime,
We’ll be married in the springtime, when I return again.”

So now my love has ‘listed, and I for him will rove,
I’ll write his name on every tree that grows in yonder grove;
Where the huntsman he does hallo and the hounds do sweetly cry,
To remind me of my ploughboy, to remind me of my ploughboy,
To remind me of my ploughboy until the day I die.

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New Notes On Old Tunes 01 – The Sprig of Thyme

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Categories: Blog Posts, Charles Lolley, New Notes On Old Tunes, The Sprig of Thyme, Tags: , , , , , , , ,


“Notes On Old Tunes” was a series of articles written in 1886-7 by Frank Kidson for the Leeds Mercury Newspaper. He was known to many as “the musical Sherlock Holmes” for his forensic investigation into the origins of folk songs. Aided by his vast collection of books, broadsides and manuscripts Kidson was able to trace a song’s passage through time and uncover the oldest, and what he regarded to be the truest version of an air.

This series of blog posts “New Notes On Old Tunes” focuses primarily on the songs, taken from the Frank Kidson collection, that feature in “The Search For Five Finger Frank” CD and show by Pete Coe and Alice Jones.

It is perhaps fitting that the first song featured in this series of blog posts should be “The Sprig of Thyme” as this song was obtained from Mr Charles Lolley, a key contributor and collaborator of Frank Kidson’s. Lolley first made contact with Kidson in response to the ”Notes On Old Tunes” articles. They corresponded extensively on the matter of folk songs and the collecting of them and they soon developed a firm and longstanding friendship. Indeed, Lolley submitted a large number of songs and tunes to Kidson’s vast collection.

This version of “The Sprig of Thyme” came from Mr Charles Lolley and seems to be a variant of the song hailing from the East Riding. This is, indeed, where Lolley was born and raised; in Hemingbrough and later Howden, but he also acquired many songs from his mother (who was apparently born in Brompton, London) and he also later moved to live and work in the north-east of Leeds. In light of this information and the scant detail given by Frank Kidson in his book ”Traditional Tunes”, it is impossible to identify this particular version of the song as originating from one specific geographical location.

“The Seeds of Love”, “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, “Garner’s Gay” are seemingly all variants of “The Sprig of Thyme” although this would appear to be a matter still very much up for debate amongst folk song scholars today. Many argue that the differing symbolism and language utilised in ”The Seeds of Love” and “The Sprig of Thyme” sets them apart, making them distinct from one another. It is also suggested, for various reasons, that “The Seeds of Love” is a song from the male perspective whereas “The Sprig of Thyme” is from a female perspective. In the Folk Song Society Journal Vol 1 (1902) Frank Kidson, himself, writes: “The air and words of ”I Sowed the Seeds of Love” are so entangled with those of “The Sprig of Thyme” that the two ballads are often regarded as identical”.

This version of the song features thyme, rue and an oak tree. In this instance it is likely that the thyme symbolises virginity and that rue is a symbol of regret. The oak tree, interestingly, appears to have been entirely edited out of the version printed in ”Traditional Tunes”. Between the 4th and 5th verse Kidson has inserted only a line of dots which appears to indicate an omission. Since becoming familiar with his workings, I am of the opinion that this is an act of censorship. Kidson genuinely seems to be disapproving of obvious sexual symbolism and it is possible that, to him, the overtly suggestive image of the oak tree was an unnecessary inclusion in the song’s narrative. In “The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs” Steve Roud and Julia Bishop include this additional verse, taken from a very similar version of the song from a broadside printed by Forth of Hull.

In “Traditional Tunes 1891″ Frank Kidson writes:

“There are several ballads extant in the same strain of allegory. The better known one, “I Sowed the Seeds of Love,” is an instance; they appear to date from the latter end of the century. The tune is pretty, and, I think, is not much corrupted from it’s original form.”

The Sprig of Thyme

Come all you pretty fair maids,
That are just in your prime,
I would have you weed your garden clear,
And let no one steal your time.

I once had a sprig of thyme,
It prospered both night and day,
By chance there came a false young man,
And he stole my thyme away,

Thyme it is the prettiest flower
That grows under the sun,
It’s time that brings all things to an end,
So now my thyme runs on.

Now my old thyme it is dead,
I’ve no room for any new,
For in that place where my old thyme grew,
Has changed into a running rue.

I’ll put a stop to that running rue,
And plant a fair oak tree,
Stand you up, stand you up, you fair oak tree,
And do not wither and die.

It’s very well drinking ale,
And it’s very well drinking wine,
But it’s far better sitting by a young man’s side,
That has won this heart of mine.

(the 5th verse is not printed in Frank Kidson’s Traditional Tunes 1891)

“The Sprig of Thyme” features as track 7 on disc 1 of “The Search For Five Finger Frank” by Pete Coe and Alice Jones.

“The Search For Five Finger Frank” CD and the book “Traditional Tunes” by Frank Kidson are both available to purchase online. You can also buy them directly from us at one of our gigs; have a look here to see where we’re playing!