Posted by Helen on November 17, 1997 at 16:02:26:
In response to Some thoughts on relating popular music to Jane Austen's time, written by Caroline, at her most pompous on November 17, 1997 at 13:45:49
] Since the subject of dating songs and dances has come up.......
Thanks for this information, Caroline! most wonderful!
] Anyone who is determined to track down the history of popular songs, dances etc. for England can contact the English Folk Dance and Song Society, whose headquarters are at Cecil Sharpe House, London, near the zoo.
Ah, this sets me off on an Elsie J. Oxenham kick... The Abbey Girls Go Back to School, to be exact...
] Here's an example.
] In 1671, I believe, a printed songbook came out in Ireland with a tune in it called "Lilli Berlaro" It was labelled as "traditional" then, or something similar, giving rise to the assumption that it wasn't new. It is a march, and the words are rather vulgar and anti-establishment in tone.
Actually, it's a satire on Catholic sentiment, beginning, "Ho brother Teague, dost hear the decree" (Teague = Taig = term of abuse for Catholic)
] I learnt the tune from a military band master as a rousing march tune. I wasn't aware at the time that there was any words attached to it.
] If you listen to the BBC World Service (I think it still exists), the rousing march tune, played by a military-type brass band at the opening of broadcasting is ..."Lillibulero"
I find this so ironic: the tune has such un-pc origins...
] What do you asssume from this, in relation to the era that we are studying? I would say that Jane Austen never sang it, but she might well know of it, and I wouldn't be at all astonished to find Major Sharpe and Sargeant Harper humming it whilst clambering about the hills of Spain.
Actually, in the BBC's latest period piece, Tom Jones (which you will all love), the soldiers in the most recent episode whistle it as they go off to fight in the '45 rebellion.
] Here's another ...a song, usually called "The Blacksmith"
] The first verse goes like this;
] "A Backsmith courted me
] Nine months and better.
] He fairly won my heart,
] Wrote me a letter
] With his hammer in his hand
] He looked so clever!
] And if I were with my love,
] I'd live for ever.
] I haven't a clue when it first came out, but it must have been when an erudite blacksmith was fairly rare. (Unless, of course you believe English Folklore which has it that a Smith is a being of Supernatural powers)
] And then there is the meaning of the letter to think about....
] Anyway, the tune, which is a very moving and powerful one, was snitched by John Bunyan for his Hymn "To be a Pilgrim" and was sung by early Wesleyans.
] It is still sung in this form by the Church of England today.
This is fascinating! But I must point out, in defence of John Bunyan who became a very honest man after his conversion (he was a wild scamp before) that he didn't pinch the tune. That was Percy Dearmer and your old friend Vaughn Williams, in the 1930's (I think), along with several other old folk-tunes which therefore found their way into the hymnbook (and hurray that they did, they're all jolly good). Dearmer also altered the words and format of Bunyan's original (from Pilgrim's Progress) quite substantially to put the hymn in its present form.
] Now I could go on for ever about "Over the Hills and Far Away" and whether Wellington's Army sang it, and in what form, but that's old stuff, and I've said enough for one post!
But pray continue!
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