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-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland)
KEYWORDS: religious ritual carol
FOUND IN: US(Ap) Britain(England(Lond,South))
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, pp. 386-387, "The Hitchin May-Day Song" (1 text)
Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs, pp. 98-99, "May-Day Carol" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, p. 303, "May Song of the Children at Shilton" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 290, "May Song")
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #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)
Broadwood-EnglishTraditionalSongsAndCarols, pp. 84-85, "Bedfordshire May Day Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hamer-GarnersGay, p. 32, "May Song -- North Bedfordshire" (1 text, 1 tune); p. 33, "May Song -- Bedfordshire" (1 text, 1 tune, which I don't really think is the same song and which might have some element of "The Cuckoo")
Hamer-GreenGroves, pp. 32-33, "May Song" (1 composite text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-SingingFamilyOfTheCumberlands, pp. 238-239, "[May Day Carol]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-FolkSongsOfTheSouthernAppalachians, p. 52, "The May Day Carol"; p. 86, "Cambridgeshire May Song" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
SongsOfAllTime, p. 36, "May Day Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)
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 [116 words]: The two May carols in Ritchie-FolkSongsOfTheSouthernAppalachians 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.
The same is true of Hamer's three May songs cited, two from the same informant, "Mrs. Johnstone." They look very distinct, but people will probably look for both of them here, so here I list them. Hamer's third May song, from Chris Marsom, is clearly this. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: JRSF238

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