May Day Carol

DESCRIPTION: The singer has been wandering and will return with a branch of may. It is to celebrate the Lord's handiwork (in bringing forth the plants in spring). The singer wishes the listeners well: "God bless you all both great and small And send you a joyful May."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1877 (Bell-Combined)
KEYWORDS: religious ritual carol
FOUND IN: US(Ap) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Bell-Combined, pp. 386-387, "The Hitchin May-Day Song" (1 text)
Broadwood/Maitland, pp. 98-99, "May-Day Carol" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Williams-Thames, p. 303, "May Song of the Children at Shilton" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 290, "May Song")
VaughanWilliams/Palmer, #4, "May Song" (1 text, 1 tune, the first half of which comes fro "The Moon Shines Bright (The Bellman's Song)" and the last verses from the "May Day Carol," two songs which often swap verses)
BroadwoodCarols, pp. 84-85, "Bedfordshire May Day Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 238-239, "[May Day Carol]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 52, "The May Day Carol"; p. 86, "Cambridgeshire May Song" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
ADDITIONAL: Percy Manning, "May-Day at Watford, Herts." in Folk-Lore, Vol. IV, No. 3 (September 1893 ("Digitized by Google)), #5 pp. 403-404 "Verses sung by Children at Watford, Herts, on May-Day" ("Here begins the merry month of May") (2 texts)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #18, "Song of the Mayers" (1 text)

Roud #305
cf. "The Moon Shines Bright (The Bellman's Song)" (lyrics)
cf. "Swinton May Song" (subject)
cf. "Peterborough May Song" (subject)
cf. "Padstow May Day Song" (subject)
NOTES [69 words]: The two May carols in Ritchie-Southern are so different that I almost split them. This is a distinct problem with May songs; Roud lumps a great variety (many of them clearly distinct) under his #305. I've split a lot of them, but in the case of the Ritchie songs, I lump them because they have many of the same words plus tunes which, while not identical, look as if they might have come from the same original. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: JRSF238

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