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DTStudy: Cutty Wren

DigiTrad:
BILLY BARLOW
CRICKETTY WEE
CUTTY WREN
CUTTY WREN (2)
PLEASE TO SEE THE KING


Related threads:
Folklore: Happy St. Stephen's Day! Get the Book! (2)
need info about 'Wrenning' (40)
(origins) Origins: Just what is a Cutty Wren? (40)
Lyr Add: version of the Wran Song (6)
(origins) Origins: Hunting the Wren (17)
Hunting the Wren (8)
Help: Who was The Wren? (40)
Wren Hunting - Scotland et al. (7)
Lyr Add: an old Cutty Wren (2)
boar's head (3)


Joe Offer 26 May 02 - 12:29 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 02 - 12:30 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 02 - 12:32 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 02 - 12:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 May 02 - 01:27 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 May 02 - 02:12 PM
CapriUni 26 May 02 - 02:18 PM
vectis 26 May 02 - 02:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 May 02 - 07:13 PM
CapriUni 26 May 02 - 07:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 May 02 - 07:54 PM
Dicho 26 May 02 - 08:20 PM
sian, west wales 27 May 02 - 05:06 AM
greg stephens 27 May 02 - 05:43 AM
p.j. 27 May 02 - 01:39 PM
GUEST 27 May 02 - 04:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 May 02 - 04:27 PM
greg stephens 27 May 02 - 07:28 PM
Malcolm Douglas 27 May 02 - 07:44 PM
Nigel Parsons 28 May 02 - 08:06 AM
GUEST 22 Jun 02 - 05:10 AM
Nigel Parsons 27 Jun 02 - 10:49 AM
IanC 25 Jul 02 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Foe 25 Jul 02 - 10:41 AM
IanC 01 Aug 02 - 12:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Aug 02 - 12:04 PM
IanC 08 Aug 02 - 08:29 AM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Aug 02 - 08:43 AM
IanC 08 Aug 02 - 10:09 AM
IanC 12 Aug 02 - 05:56 AM
IanC 12 Aug 02 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,cbladey@bcpl.net 12 Aug 02 - 01:25 PM
IanC 12 Aug 02 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,cbladey@bcpl.net 12 Aug 02 - 05:55 PM
IanC 13 Aug 02 - 12:27 PM
GUEST 13 Aug 02 - 06:30 PM
IanC 20 Aug 02 - 11:12 AM
Dicho 20 Aug 02 - 05:54 PM
IanC 21 Aug 02 - 04:27 AM
IanC 31 Oct 02 - 09:34 AM
Nigel Parsons 27 Jun 03 - 09:26 PM
Airymouse 07 Jul 14 - 06:40 PM
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Subject: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 02 - 12:29 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


CUTTY WREN (2)

There is a Manx legend that during the Irish rebellion, when English
soldiers and Manx Fencibles were in Ireland, the noise made by the wren on
the end of a drum woke a sleeping sentry and thus saved them from being
taken unawares; this was the reason for hunting the wren on St. Stephen's
Day.

Oh where are you going said Milder to Moulder
Oh we may not tell you said Festel to Fose
We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose
We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose

And what will you do there said Milder to Moulder
We'll shoot the Cutty wren said John the Red Nose

And how will you shoot us said Milder to Moulder
With bows and with arrows said John the Red Nose

Oh that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Oh what will you do then said Festel to Fose
Great guns and great cannon said John the Red Nose

And how will you fetch her said Milder to Moulder
Oh we may not tell you said Festel to Fose
On four strong men's shoulders said John the Red Nose

Ah that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Oh what will do then said Festel to Fose
Great carts and great wagons said John the Red Nose

Oh how will you cut her up said Milder to Moulder
With knives and with forks said John the Red Nose

Oh that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Great hatchets and cleavers said John the Red Nose

Oh how will you boil her said Milder to Moulder
In pots and in kettles said John the Red Nose
O that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Great pans and large cauldrons said John the Red Nose

Oh who'll get the spare ribs said Milder to Moulder
We'll give 'em all to the poor said John the Red Nose

@ritual @animal @bird @wren
tune from Sharp, English Folk Songs given for Green Bushes
filename[ CUTYWREN
Tune file : GREEBUSH

CLICK TO PLAY
BR




PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.

Cutty Wren, The

DESCRIPTION: Milder asks Malder questions ("Oh where are you going? says Milder to Malder"). Festle replies to Fose with a refusal to answer. John the Red Nose answers the questions. Most of the answers are extravagant ways of hunting the wren
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1908 (Mason's "Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs")
KEYWORDS: wren hunting questions talltale
FOUND IN: Wales Britain(England)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Kennedy (78), "Helg yn Dreean/Hunt the Wren" (1 text, located in the notes)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 110-111, "The Cutty Wren" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 91-92, "The Cutty Wren" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 347, "The Cutty Wren" (1 text)
DT, CUTYWREN*

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Wren (The King)" (subject)
cf. "Billy Barlow" (form)
cf. "Cricketty Wee" (form)
cf. "Hunt the Wren" (form, subject)
cf. "The Green Bushes" [Laws P2] (tune)
Notes: Although widely popular in revival circles, "The Cutty Wren" has not been all that popular in tradition, being confined to places such as Wales, the Isle of Man, and northern England. The style (of distinct speakers carrying a conversation in order) is more common; see the cross-references.
Many have identified "Billy Barlow," "Cricketty Wee," or (especially) "Hunt the Wren" with "The Cutty Wren," but while the form is similar, and in the latter case even the subject is the same, the plot is distinct enough that the Index splits them.
For a little information, and a lot of speculation, on the history of wrenning, see the notes to "The Wren (The King)." - RBW
File: DTcutywr

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Related Threads:

St. Stephen's Day Songbook
Need Info about "wrenning"


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 02 - 12:30 PM

CUTTY WREN
(Les Barker)

Where are you going said Millda to Molda,
Where are you going oh where do you go?
I'm off to the forest said Molda to Millda,
I'm off to the forest all in the deep south.

Why are you going says Millda to Molda,
Why are you going with all of these men?
You nosy old bleeder said Molda to Millda,
You nosy old bleeder we're hunting the wren.

Two dozen hunters says Millda to Molda,
Yet you never catch one won't you tell me how?
Its a bloody small target said Molda to Millda,
Its a bloody small target you stupid old cow.

Then why do you do it says Millda to Molda,
Why do you do it says the wining old voice.
I know it sound silly said Molda to Millda,
Its an old a pagan custom and we got no choice.

Would you walk in the forest says Millda to Molda,
Would you walk in the forest like an old pagan man?
We'll go in my motor said Molda to Millda,
I've got a Toyota its a four wheel drive van.

Where have you been says Millda to Molda,
Where have you been won't you tell me?
Hunting the wren said Molda to Millda,
Hunting the wren has your memory gone?

Pray have you got one says Millda to Molda,
Pray have you got one please tell I'm all ears.
Yes we're enraptured said Molda to Millda,
Its the first one we've captured for two thousand years,

Where did you catch it says Millda to Molda,
Where did you catch it pray tell to me.
We got it at Safeway said Molda to Millda,
We got it at Safeway for 55 p.

Its not very big though says Millda to Molda,
We won't need much stuffing I don't see the sense.
Of course its not big though said Molda to Millda,
Its one of the salient features of wrens.

You should have got a chicken says Millda to Molda,
A chicken or a turkey or maybe a joint.
We should have got a chicken said Molda to Millda,
You silly old woman you're missing the point.

So why hunt the wren then says Millda to Molda,
Why hunt the wren then if its such a small thing?
Its and old pagan custom said Molda to Millda,
And hunting the sausage don't have the same ring .

Where are you going says Millda to Molda,
Where are you going says Millda again.
Off to the Arndale said Molda to Millda,
To open a shop called Kentucky fried wren.

Copyright Les Barker
Made popular by the late Percy 'Stupid' Sedgwick
last of the very thin Baroldswick wren hunters
@parody @ritual @animal @bird @wren
filename[ CUTYWRE2
JY


Thread #47959   Message #718001
Posted By: Snuffy
27-May-02 - 09:11 AM
Thread Name: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren

In the Les Barker version, I hear "deep snow" rather than "deep south" at the end of verse 1. Snow also rhymes better.

In verse 4 there should be a "h" in 'wining' and a "s" on the end of 'sound'

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 02 - 12:32 PM

CRICKETTY WEE

"Where are you goin'?" says Arty Art,
"Where are you goin'?" says Dandrum Dart
"Where are you goin'?" says Brothers-In-Three
"I'm goin' to the fair." says Crickety Wee.

"What will you do there?"
I'll buy a wee pony."

"But what will you do with it?"
"It's for my wife to ride on."

"When will ye get married?"
"The day before the morrow."

"Will there be any drink?"
"A glass and a half."

"It'll not be all drunk."
"I could drink it myself."

"What'll you have to eat?"
"A loaf and a half."

"It'll not get all ate."
"I'll put it under my hat."

"The mice will get at it."
"I'll keep a good cat."

Will ye have any children?"
"Two, and two cripples."

"I doubt they'll not work."
"They'll work for death."

From Songs of the People, Henry
note: an obvious version of Cutty Wren, but without the wren. An
Collected iun Armagh, 1937
@child    @game
filename[ CRICKWEE
Tune file : CRICKWEE

CLICK TO PLAY
RG
apr97


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 02 - 12:36 PM

Thread #9451   Message #61071

Posted By: Bruce O.

02-Mar-99 - 05:18 PM

Thread Name: Lyr Add: an old Cutty Wren

Subject: Lyr Add: an old Cutty Wren


"The Cutty Wren" is presumeably a very old song, but I've never seen or heard of any version older than that in David Herd's 'Scots Songs', 1776 (given below). In Hecht's 'Songs From David Herd's Manuscripts' the text is the same but the names are not in all caps, and he has 'wren' in the 3rd verse, and quotaion marks around the 1st part of every line. Hecht's notes cite Swainson (1) and Northall (2) for discussion of the hunting of the wren on St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26). The latter may be 'English Folk- Rhymes', 1892, but I haven't found any likely possibilities for Swainson's work. Does anyone know of an older version of the song?


[No heading at all.]


Will ze go to the wood? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' brither and kin.


What to do there? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What to do there? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
What to do there? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
What to do there? quo' brither and kin.


To slay the WREN, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
To slay the WREN, quo' JOHNIE REDNOSIE:
To slay the WREN, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
To slay the WREN, quo' brither and kin.


What way will ze get her hame? quo' FOZIE MOSIE;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' brither and kin.


We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' brither and kin.


What way will we get her in? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What way will we get her in? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What way will we get her in? quo' FOOSLIN' ene;
What way will we get her in? quo' brither and kin.


We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' brither and kin.


I'll hae a wing, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
I'll hae another, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
I'll hae a leg, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
An I'll hae anither, quo' brither and kin.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 May 02 - 01:27 PM

Pretty well every time I've heard it sung or seen it in print or record there's the suggestion that it dates back to the Peasants' Revolt in the Fourteenth Century. But I've never seen any indication of whether there's any basis for this, and where the suggestion first emerged.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 May 02 - 02:12 PM

The early folksong collectors (and the majority of today's revival performers) show a strong tendency to over-estimate the ages of songs and customs. That said, this custom does go back at the least to the 17th century.

Iona and Peter Opie (The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, 1951), give a composite set of 13 verses based on early printed sources, and comment:

"A folk-chant of considerable curiosity, which was embodied in nursery rhyme books at an early date.  It appears to be indigenous to all four kingdoms, and is likely to be exceptionally old.  In Ireland the characters have been recorded as "O, Andhra Roe, Brothers-in-Three, and the Kriggerawee"; in Wales, "Dibyn, Dobyn, Risiart, Robin, John, a y tri"; in Scotland, "Fozie Mozie, Johnie Rednosie, Foslin 'ene, and brither and kin".  A point common to all accounts of the hunt is the vast size of the quarry, doubts are expressed about the adequacy of the weapons, bows and arrows "will not do", it must be "great guns and cannon" (1927); there is a conference about how to bring the body home, and after a cart has been obtained, the lowland Scots ask, "What way will ye get her in?"  They needs must "drive down the door cheeks" (1776).  The dinner that the little bird's carcass will provide is such that the Manx would invite "King and Queen" and yet have enough over to give "eyes to the blind, legs to the lame, and pluck to the poor", while in some versions of the rhyme methods of disposing of the bones also engage discussion.  The hunting of the wren on Christmas morning (latterly on St. Stephen's Day) has been described by many folk-lore writers from the time of Aubrey (1696), who tells of "a whole Parish running like madmen from Hedg to Hedg a-Wren hunting", down to modern times (Sunday Express, 30 June 1946).  The rhyme was chanted in the ceremonial procession after the kill had been made.  Stories differ about why it should be the wren which is singled out for slaughter.  Those legends having purely local significance may be disregarded.  The wren has been looked upon as the king of birds in many countries, and the Druids are said to have represented it as such.  The story, quoted in Collecteana de rebus Hibernicis (1786), that the first Christian missionaries took offence at the respect shown to the wren, and commanded that it be hunted and killed on Christmas Day, has certainly a long tradition.  Sir James Frazer, however, suggests looking even deeper than this (Golden Bough, pt.V)."

They go on to cite a series of references, the earliest being Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book, (M. Cooper), vol.ii, c.1744.  Mention is also made of an account by Sonnini, in his Travels, of wren-hunting near Marseilles in 1799.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: CapriUni
Date: 26 May 02 - 02:18 PM

... And I've heard that the tradition of hunting the wren on St. Stephen's Day goes back to Pagan sacrificial rites focused on the winter solstice (that the wren = the old year).

Of course, this may be just plain wrong. Or both stories may be wrong. Or both may be right....


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: vectis
Date: 26 May 02 - 02:56 PM

When I first saw the song written down it was ascribed as being pre-pagan. Can anyone tell us what was around pre- pagan??????/
It certainly seems to be very old and widespread.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 May 02 - 07:13 PM

Richard Nettel in "Sing a Song of England" (1954) put a version in a chapter The Green Man, alongside Robin Hood ballads, implying an association, though never spelling it out.

"Oh what shall we shoot at?" said Richet to Robet,
"Oh what shall we shoot at?" said Robet to Bobet.
"Oh what shall we shoot at?" said John in the Long.
"Oh what shall we shoot at?" said everyone.

"We'll shoot at the wren" said Richat to Robet, etc
"How shall we carry it home?"
"We'll hire thre men"
"We'll hire six cooks"

"How shall we eat it"
"We'll invite all the town"
"The scraps for the poor"

"There are many versions of the song of Ricat and Robet, and an old Oxfordshire shepherd when singing it wold stamp violently when he sang 'everyone'; he declared it was a defiant song." (Nettel)

That version is from the Vale of the White Horse, Nettel's book says.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: CapriUni
Date: 26 May 02 - 07:29 PM

Vectis --

I dunno... that does seem to be a puzzle. Perhaps it was written by the birds themselves, to protest some pre-religious hominid throwing a stone and killing one of their friends. ;-)

Or it could just be a mistake, and the writer meant to say pre-Christian....


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 May 02 - 07:54 PM

As a general rule, writers who posit unsubstantiated "pre-Christian" origins for traditional customs and songs are just indulging in agreeable fantasy; that doesn't mean that they don't go back that far, simply that, in the absence of evidence, it is unsafe (and potentially very misleading) to assume that they do, let alone state it as "fact".

"Pre-Pagan"(!) would seem to be gilding the lily just a wee bit, and I suspect the hand of a fantasist there. In any case, hearsay cuts no ice; do you remember who actually said, or wrote, these things?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Dicho
Date: 26 May 02 - 08:20 PM

Ask the man "who was born about 10,000 years ago."
(Just adding more material to be edited out).


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: sian, west wales
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:06 AM

Coincidentally, I've just had an e-mail from a friend (who is working on a history of Welsh folk music for University of Wales Press) in which she says:

**** You will be pleased to know that The Book is at last rolling along again after a long very dry spell. I have just finished the section where I discuss the tunes connected with 18th century calendar customs such as Mari Lwyd, Hela'r Dryw, Calennig, Gwyl Fair, Caneuon y Crempog et al --- I have collected 19 Mari Lwyd tunes, 13 Hela'r Dryw ("Hunting the Wren"), well over a dozen tri thrawiad and triban tunes associated with Gwyl Fair etc etc and they all have to be analysed and discussed. Now I can at last go forward to the Christmas and May carols. It'll be a nice change!

*****

She also gave a lecture on Wren Hunting last August in an ethnomusicology lecture in Bangor (N.Wales) for which I sent her some info from Mudcat. I'll have to point her in this direction again ...

sian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:43 AM

The suggestion is often knocked around that the original king of the birds for the purpose of this hunting tradition is the firecrest or goldcrest wren, because these birds have a kingly golden crown. The extension to common wrens, in this theory, comes later as the precise origins of the tradition become blurred in the "folk mind", influenced no doubt by the fact that it's a bloody sight easier to find a common wren. I believe customs in the balkans add wait to this theory, but I can't cite a source for this. I always add the same caveat asMalcolm Douglas: basically, I'm not a historian, I just read a lot of stuff and don't always make notes.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: p.j.
Date: 27 May 02 - 01:39 PM

I was just in the studio this week with Shay Black recording Cutty Wren for a CD! It's a tiny, tiny little world...

pj


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 02 - 04:17 PM

"The spread of a disease which, at its height, wiped out one in two people in London, one in three in the Eastern counties (the Black Death) put the finishing touch to the peasant revolt movement in 1352. ........It was about this time that the people began singing a song called The Cutty Wren. Several versions of this song have been collected, each with a different tune and a fairly different set of words." The Singing Englishman - A.L.Lloyd p7


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 May 02 - 04:27 PM

But so far as I'm aware Bert Lloyd gives no sources for that assertion about the Cutty Wren. It seems not unplausible, but...


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 May 02 - 07:28 PM

By the time AL Lloyd wrote "Folk Song in England" he admitted there was no evidence whatever to the peasant's revolt/Cutty Wren theory. It's a nice romantic idea, and it might be true , but's it's no more than that.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 May 02 - 07:44 PM

He made a similar claim in Folk Song in England (1967), some years later, but again provided no references or evidence:

"...we know that the wren-hunting song was attached to a pagan midwinter ritual of the kind that Church and authority fulminated vainly against - particularly in the rebellious period at the end of the Middle Ages when adherence to forms of the Old Religion was taken to be evidence of subversion, and its partisans were violently persecuted in consequence".

In this respect, Lloyd was a bit of an unreconstructed Frazerian; and we should bear in mind that the hypotheses of writers like Margaret Murray were not discredited until after he wrote that. We should also bear in mind that he is not actually saying, in the later book, that the ritual dates from that period; just that it is like some (unnamed and unidentified) that, in his opinion, did.

If anyone has any concrete evidence of the practice of hunting the wren as early as the 14th century, please let us know about it; ditto for the song, though in the absence of references earlier than (so far) the first half of the 18th century, I'm guessing that to be much later.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 28 May 02 - 08:06 AM

As Greg said, the wren may be confused with the goldcrest. Far too often it is claimed that the wren is our smallest (British) bird, where it should be the goldcrest.
I would expect some cross referencing to "The King of the Birds", also in the DT.
The Spinners do a version of The King of The Birds(probably their own!), and in concert one Christmas I heard them give the preamble to the effect: (and this is not verbatim, just from memory) that the birds were discussing which should be king, and it was decided that whichever bird could fly the highest would wear the crown. Several birds made the attempt, including the skylark, but at last it was the turn of the eagle, and he soared to a height greater than that achieved by any of the other birds. As the eagle tired, and started to descend, the wren (which had hidden in the eagle's plumage) flew out, and flew to an even greater height (although only rising by a small amount). Thus the wren was acclaimed "King of the Birds".

Whether this folk tale was first told to explain the apparent "Crown" which distinguishes a "Gold Crested Wren (Goldcrest) from a normal Wren I don't know, but the thought is there. The version used by The Spinners is more in the form of carol singing, a la "Here we come a Wassailing"

British schoolchildren used to learn about the wren more so than other birds because it was (until the 1960s) depicted on the reverse of a Farthing coin (a 960th of a pound)

The title of The Spinners number is "The Wren Boys Song". And that was the one they did in concert following the above folk-tale intro.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 05:10 AM

The very excellent "Musical Traditions" magazine - now on-line at : CLICK 'ERE
has in their "Articles" section, an item entitled "Irish Folk Drama" - which includes Wren Boys and Wren's Ballad - by one, Ruari O Caomhanach.
Cheers! R-J (Rich-Joy)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 10:49 AM

Cross Ref: to current thread. Wrenning


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 10:25 AM

The Cutty Wren - Survey of Mediaeval Literature

Some of you may think this wasn't worth doing, but it's as well to make sure. It would have been quite funny, really, if we'd had this debate only to find a 14th Century manuscript with the song on it! There seems to be no literary evidence for an early mediaeval song akin to "The Cutty Wren". The surviving mediaeval (pre-1500) literature contains numerous songs, short rhymes and references to songs none of which bear any resemblance to it, either in form or in subject matter. I have now spent some time looking at the extant literature base, both on the internet (of which there is a surprisingly large amount) and in the British Library, and I feel that I have covered more or less the whole corpus. I have also studied the contemporary literature of the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 (much of which is available on the internet) and can safely conclude that there is no mention of wrens, nor of anything which might possibly be associated with the song, with one very tiny parallel.

The single exception is a parallel which might be drawn of the character of "Hob the Robber" which appears in the John Ball literature. "Hob" is one of the derivatives of the name Robert, as is "Robin". Many of the "Cutty Wren" versions have the name of one character as "Robbin the Bobbin" or (in later sources) "Robbin a Bobbin" and some similarity is apparent.

There are a number of references to wrens in the pre-1500 literature and, almost without fail, these use the wren to symbolise weakness or poverty. Here is an example translated from The Owl and The Nightingale.

(owl to nightingale)
Tell me now, you miserable creature, do you have any use apart from having a musical voice? You're no good for anything apart from knowing how to warble, because you're small and weak and your coat of feathers is scanty. What good do you do for humanity? No more than a wretched wren does!

Curiously, this characteristic of weakness and poverty is in very close parallel to the vision of the church promoted by the followers of Wycliffe (Lollards) and their later counterparts (especially the various kinds of Franciscans). Compare this translation from Wycliffe's writings.

And of this gospel I take as believe, that Christ for [the] time that He walked here, was [the] most poor man of all, both in spirit and in having; for Christ says that He had nought for to rest His head on. And Paul says that He was made needy for our love. And more poor might no man be, neither bodily nor in spirit. And thus Christ put from Him all manner of worldly lordship. For the gospel of John telleth that when they would have made Christ king, He fled and hid Him from them, for He would none such worldly highness.

:-)
Ian

PS more on the modern mythology when I get a chance to compile it all. IVC


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 10:41 AM

I've always sung this as "Billy Barlow"

Let's go a'huntin' says Risky Rob
Let's go a'huntin' says Robin to Bob
Let's go a'huntin' says Daniel and Joe
Let's go a'huntin' says Billy Barlow

2.
What shall we hunt for says Risky Rob (etc.)

3.
I'm huntin' rabbits says Risky Rob
I'm huntin' possim says Robin to Bob
I'm huntin' coons says Daniel and Joe
I'm huntin' rats, say Billy Barlow

4.
How shall we divide him says Risky Rob (etc.)

5.
I'll take the shoulder says Risky Rob
I'll take the thigh says Robin to Bob
I'll take the back says Daniel and Joe
Tail bone mine says Billy Barlow

6.
How shall we cook him says Risky Rob (etc.)

7.
I'll fry mine says Risky Rob
I'll broil thigh says Robin to Bob
I'll bake back says Daniel and Joe
Tail bone raw says Billy Barlow


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 12:29 PM

The Cutty Wren - Notes on The Peasants' Revolt and the 20th Century Folklore

To understand the recent folklore of this song, it is probably necessary to understand the background of the folk song revival(s) in which it became popular. With apologies to people who know all this, I'll attempt a summary (please correct me where this is inaccurate).

Following the protestant reformation and particularly the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 in England, contemporary historians began to interpret history before the reformation in terms of trying to identify events which led up to the reformation. Wycliffe's theology, though it considerably predated Luther, included elements which could be identified with criticisms of the church made during the course of the reformation and was thus seen as a precursor. The 1381 revolt was also regarded in this manner as much of the literature was clearly based on Wycliffe's ideas (though it often went further).

The 19th and 20th century Workers Movements saw the Peasants' Revolt as evidence that the common people in the mediaeval period were oppressed and downtrodden and that, under enough pressure, they would be forced to rise up and defy their oppressors. The Peasants' Revolt and its leaders were romanticised and idealised, and contemporary writers put words into the mouths of John Ball and others. William Morris's "A Dream of John Ball" (first printed 1886) provides a whole mythological history including marches, banners and invented speeches. Here's an example, an excerpt from a long speech given by Morris to John Ball.

"Yea, forsooth, once again I saw as of old, the great treading down the little, and the strong beating down the weak, and cruel men fearing not, and kind men daring not, and wise men caring not; and the saints in heaven forbearing and yet bidding me not to forbear; forsooth, I knew once more that he who doeth well in fellowship, and because of fellowship, shall not fail though he seem to fail to-day, but in days hereafter shall he and his work yet be alive, and men be holpen by them to strive again and yet again; and yet indeed even that was little, since, forsooth, to strive was my pleasure and my life."

(To be fair, John Ball was himself pretty radical. Take for example his famous phrase "Whan Adam dalf, and Eve span, Who was thanne a gentilman?".)

In England, the bulk of the late 19th / early 20th century folk revivalists (e.g. Cecil Sharp) were, in the main, of a socialist leaning. Many of the later post-war revivalists (Ewan MacColl, A. L. Lloyd) were rather more radical than Sharp. A number of important figures (see Dave Harker's "Fakesong" for details) were, in fact, members of the British Communist Party.

It is in this context that A. L. Lloyd, in "The Singing Englishman" (1944) appears to have introduced the idea that "The Cutty Wren" was a song of The Peasants' Revolt of 1381. (fairly extensive research has not, so far, revealed an earlier reference) Lloyd's grasp of 14th Century history is, anyway, a bit shaky. He states (as quoted by GUEST earlier) that:

The spread of a disease which, at its height, wiped out one in two people in London, one in three in the Eastern counties (the Black Death) put the finishing touch to the peasant revolt movement in 1352. ... It was about this time that the people began singing a song called The Cutty Wren. Several versions of this song have been collected, each with a different tune and a fairly different set of words. (p7)

The rural depopulation caused by the Black Death (roughly 1349 - 1350 in England) was, in fact, one of the contributory factors of the Peasants' Revolt (1381) which was, anyway, less a "movement" than a brief "Nine Days Wonder" (though there was an even smaller repetition in 1382). It should be noted that inaccuracy about dates seems to be a feature of the promulgators of this myth as a number of the websites, for example, cite 1393 as the date of the Peasants' Revolt despite the correct date being widely available.

The song lends itself to the implication of being a coded reference to revolutionary activities by its inclusion of large scale weapons and ordnance in what is ostensibly a hunt for a very small creature. It would be fair to say that, if the song did prove to have a long history, then this might be one of the simpler explanations (and thus, using Occam's Razor, a good hypothesis). However, as noted above, there is no evidence of such a song dating to the 14th Century.

In the absence of any other hypothesis, and with the backing of Lloyd's very influential book, the Peasants' Revolt story appears to have gained considerable currency through the folk clubs and beyond - essentially via oral transmission. By 1962, the Peasants Revolt explanation was such an undisputed truth that Arnold Wesker included the song, complete with explanation, in the play "Chips With Everything". It's probable that the version in DT (which is badly transcribed) should be corrected from the version in the play, as this is - for many people - the definitive version of the "Milder to Malder" variant. As noted by Malcom Douglas above, Lloyd had changed his story by the time he rewrote his book as "Folk Song in England" (1967) to something rather vaguer, and not specifically mentioning the Peasants' Revolt.

... we know that the wren-hunting song was attached to a pagan midwinter ritual of the kind that Church and authority fulminated vainly against - particularly in the rebellious period at the end of the Middle Ages when adherence to forms of the Old Religion was taken to be evidence of subversion, and its partisans were violently persecuted in consequence.

This appears to be the product of a rather fevered imagination, though I'd disagree that it was exactly Frazerian - after all (unless you read the abridged version) Frazer was rather more careful about providing sources for his speculations.

The "Peasants Revolt" origin is still going the rounds as can be seen by putting Peasants Revolt Cutty Wren into any internet search. I think it's fair to say that a good story often catches hold of the imagination ... and this is a good story.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Aug 02 - 12:04 PM

A few amplifications of previous posts.

Billy Barlow. John Lomax recorded two sets of this, from Bud Wiley of Fort Spunkey, Texas, in 1935 and from Dr. W.P. Dabis, Galax, Virginia, in 1937. Bud Wiley's version appeared in Our Singing Country (1941) and subsequently in Ruth Crawford Seeger's American Folk Songs for Children (1948), and would be the likely source of the text posted above by "Foe". Billy Barlow was a popular (fictional) character in the mid 19th century, being the subject of several comic stage songs and a whole series performed by the entertainer Sam Cowell, who was well-known on both sides of the atlantic. Barlow seems also to have featured in at least one Minstrel song; none of these have any obvious connection to the "wren" song, though one Billy Barlow broadside song does begin with a question:

Oh when was I born, says old mother Goose
Evidently Barlow has found his way into an American parody of the Wren song; goodness knows how.

The set McGrath quotes (is that an excerpt, or the whole thing?) from Richard Nettel's book is vague about the source of both song and anecdote. The Roud Folk Song Index indicates that Nettel noted the song from Harry Ryman of Lechlade, Gloucestershire (date unspecified). Alfred Williams noted a similar text from Mrs. W. Field of Winson, Gloucestershire (Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames, 1923).

The quote, however, relates to a set of the song noted by Janet Blunt in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, in 1907, 1911 and 1913. The following is the relevant passage from The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol. 5, issue 18, 1914.

"The above Oxfordshire version was communicated to me by Miss Janet Blunt, of Adderbury Manor, near Banbury. She noted it carefully on three different occasions from the singing of Mr. Edward Hawkins' widow and his step-daughter, Mrs. Castle. Mr. Hawkins, a shepherd, of Adderbury West, died an old man some time before 1907. He was a singer of many old songs, the above amongst others, and was a morris dancer. His widow (well over eighty in 1907) though she sang some of his songs did not appreciate her husband's performances and used to try to stop him. Miss Dorothy Blunt, who also noted her "Wren" song, says that when the old shepherd sang "everyone" he stamped violently, so much so that his wife bade him be quiet, but he refused, saying that to stamp was the right way and reminded him of old times. Mrs. Castle says that the tune went with emphasis and swing, the old man banging his the floor with his stick at the accented notes, bringing out all his words very clearly and swinging his body in time to the tune. His little grand-daughter danced as he sang..."
-L.E.B. [Lucy Broadwood].
It can be seen that Nettel rather misrepresents the case; it was the shepherd, not his song, that was defiant! Lloyd (FSIE, 1967, p.96) also refers to the anecdote, but names no source.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 08:29 AM

In reply to Joe's post of 26-May-02 - 12:36 PM, containing BruceO's post of 02-Mar-99, here are full details of the two books mentioned

NORTHALL. George F. "English Folk-Rhymes. A collection of traditional verses relating to places and persons, customs, superstitions, etc." (London, Kegan Paul & Co., 1892)

SWAINSON, Charles "Provincial Names and folk lore of British Birds ... Published in conjunction with the Folk-Lore Society." (London, 1885)

Both books are in the British Library.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 08:43 AM

The latter book is available as a paperback facsimile reprint from Llanerch Press.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 10:09 AM

Thanks, Malcolm.


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Subject: ADD: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 05:56 AM

I managed to get to the BL for an hour on Friday and took a look at Hecht and also at Northall and Swainson. Both Northall and Swainson are also quite interesting, but I haven't written up my notes for them yet(!)

Hecht (p315), in his notes to the Herd version quoted by BruceO above, quotes the following verses from Peter Buchan's MS I (166b-167a) (These are in the British Library, estimated date 1828).

Johnny Rednose

Where are ye gain? quoth Hose to Mose
Where are ye gain? quoth Johnny Rednose
And where are ye gain? quoth brethren three
To shoot the wren quo' Wise Willie

Where will we saut her? quoth Hose to Mose
Where will we saut her? quoth Johnny Rednose
Where will we saut her? quoth brethren three
In quids and tubs, quoth Wise Willie

What will we do with her? quoth Hose to Mose
What will we do with her? quoth Johnny Rednose
What will we do with her? quoth brethren three
We'll make a feast o' her, quoth Wise Willie

Who will we hae at it? quoth Hose to Mose
Who will we hae at it? quoth Johnny Rednose
Who will we hae at it? quoth brethren three
We'll hae dukes and lords, quoth Wise Willie

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 01:03 PM

Some notes from NORTHALL. George F. "English Folk-Rhymes. A collection of traditional verses relating to places and persons, customs, superstitions, etc.", Kegan Paul & Co.: London, 1892. pages 230ff and 276.

Northall states that wrenning is popular in the South of Ireland, Isle of Man and Essex (as well as other English counties). In England and the Isle of Man it is associated with Christmastide generally; St Stephen's day latterly in Man and also in Ireland.

He quotes the following rhyme from Gammer Gurton's Garland, and English book of rhymes (published at Stockport, approximately 1760) ______________________________________________

We'll go a shooting, says Robin to Bobbin
We'll go a shooting, says Richard to Robin
We'll go a shooting, says John all alone
We'll go a shooting, says everyone

What shall we kill, says Robin to Bobbin
What shall we kill, says Richard to Robin
What shall we kill, says John all alone
What shall we kill, says everyone

We'll shoot at the wren, says Robin to Bobbin
We'll shoot at the wren, says Richard to Robin
We'll shoot at the wren, says John all alone
We'll shoot at the wren, says everyone

She's down, she's down, says Robin to Bobbin
She's down, she's down, says Richard to Robin
She's down, she's down, says John all alone
She's down, she's down, says everyone

How shall we get her home, says Robin to Bobbin
How shall we get her home, says Richard to Robin
How shall we get her home, says John all alone
How shall we get her home, says everyone

We'll hire a cart, says Robin to Bobbin
We'll hire a cart, says Richard to Robin
We'll hire a cart, says John all alone
We'll hire a cart, says everyone

The hoist boys hoist, says Robin to Bobbin
The hoist boys hoist, says Richard to Robin
The hoist boys hoist, says John all alone
The hoist boys hoist, says everyone

So the brought her away after each pluck'd a feather
And when they got home, shar'd the booty together
______________________________________________

Along with the Opies' reference to Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book, (M. Cooper), vol.ii, c.1744 cited by BruceO above, it is clear that we now have dates back to the first half of the 18th century for the rhyme. Given that these things don't just appear from nowhere and that Aubrey's "Miscellany" (published 1696 but written earlier) cited earlier by Malcolm Douglas describes a village wren hunt, it seems possible to conclude that both the rhyme and the practice date from at least the second half ot the 17th Century. Notes from Swainson later.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST,cbladey@bcpl.net
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 01:25 PM

relevant song information concerning songs of wren and wrenning and St. Stephen http://www.geocities.com/Paris/LeftBank/9314/stevewren.html#Wren

St. Stephen and Wren Traditions in general http://www.geocities.com/Paris/LeftBank/9314/stevewren.html

Conrad Bladey cbladey@bcpl.net


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 01:39 PM

Thanks Conrad

I've seen the site before and found it useful in some regards. The compilation there has a few credits, but is largely harvested from the web - including 2 versions from DT complete with their spelling errors! I hope we've got a bit further than that on this thread.

I hope.

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST,cbladey@bcpl.net
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 05:55 PM

Ok then if you are the expert send me the spelling corrections.... ....I just pull this stuff together..... :) If no one harvests the web it can get overgrown and weedy!

Some good work in this thread however, Conrad


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 12:27 PM

Just thought you might like a bit of light relief ... here's a rather special interpretation of the song:

British folksongs, from at least the mid-1500s, have been chock full of anti-government sentiments. Many thousands of words have been written about the political significance of nursery rhymes and their hidden meanings, and one song from that period "The Cutty Wren" is still sung in the odd folk club today. It slags King Henry the Eighth big time, for being fat and greedy. Granted the message was cloaked in bird metaphors, but I doubt that the wandering minstrels sang it much around the nobility.

I'm not doing it right at all, I really wish I knew what they were on!

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 06:30 PM

Where is any evidence for any version of the song, "The Cutty Wren" prior to 1744?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 11:12 AM

Some notes from Swainson, Charles "Provincial Names and folk lore of British Birds" (Published in conjunction with the Folk-Lore Society) London, English Dialect Society, 1885

Swainson provides a number of local names for the wren - Cutty/Cut (from its short bob tail - Dorset, Devon, Hants, Pembroke), Scutty (Sussex), Bobby (Norfolk), Cuttely (Somerset), Tiddy/Tidley (Essex)

With refererence to Wren Hunting, he quotes the following

Notes & Queries ser. I xii 489, ser. II 102 for details of the tradition from Waterford/Youghal (The Furze song is used). this is available on the web.
In the Isle of Man (W. H. Gill's Manx National Songs, p. 62) the Cutty Wren song (Robbin the Bobbin)
Scotland (Herd), the Cutty Wren song
Halliwell "Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales" 1849 p165 for Pembrokeshire (a version of the "King" song is used)
Sikes "British Goblins" (London 1880) gives more music and adds that the ballad "is a very long one"

He also adds that in Derbyshire it is called "Jenny Hunting" and in Essex the "King" song is used.

Swainson quotes Sonnini's "Travels" as evidence that a very similar ritual is carried out at at Ciotat (near Marseilles).

NOTES

The 3 associated songs are as follows:
- King Song - "Joy Health Love and Peace ..."
- Furze Song - "The Wren, the wren, the King of all birds / On Christmas day wa caught in the furze"
- Cutty Wren song - "Where are you going ..." (and variants)

It should be noted that there is no suggestion in Swainson that any of these practices nor any of the songs (nor apparently any of the legends associated with the wren) are attached to the Goldcrest, which has its own section. I believe the Goldcrest association should be regarded as a recent interpolation.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Dicho
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 05:54 PM

Lyr. Add: HUNTING THE WREN

"Let's go hunting," said Rob-Sha-Bob;
"Let's go hunting," said Ridge to Rodge;
"Let's go hunting," said Daniel Joe;
"Let's go hunting," said Billy Barlow.

"What shall we hunt?" said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"Go hunt a wren," said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"How will we kill it?" said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"Go borrow a gun," said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"How'll we cook it?" said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"Go borrow a skillet," said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"How'll we divide it?" said Rob-Sha-Bob; etc.

"Ill take the head," said Rob-Sha-Bob;
"I'll take the back," said Ridge to Rodge;
"I'll take the breast," said Daniel Joe;
"I'll take the rest," said Billy Barlow.

From William A. Owens, 1950, Texas Folk Songs, pp. 252-254, with music, The Texas Folklore Society, University Press, Dallas. Owens says "'Hunting the Wren' was the first song I knew. My mother sang it to us as a nursery song, and my brothers sang it as a game." He discusses its possible connection with the celebration of St. Stephen's Day. See "Billy Barlow," a somewhat different unattributed version in the DT.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 04:27 AM

Here's a description of Hunting the Wren in the Isle of Man from Waldron's A Description of the Isle of Man (1731) Edited by W. Harrison (1865).

Christmas(74) is ushered in with a-form much less meaning, and infinitely more fatiguing. On the 24th of December, towards evening, all the servants in general have a holiday, they go not to bed all night, but ramble about till the bells ring in all the churches, which is at twelve a-clock; prayers being over, they go to hunt the wren, and after having found one of these poor birds, they kill her, and lay her on a bier with the utmost solemnity, bringing her to the parish church, and burying her with a whimsical kind of solemnity, singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas begins.

The editor provided the following notes (I have corrected the scanned text).

The custom of hunting the wren has been a pastime in the Isle of Man from time immemorial, and is still continued at the present day, chiefly by boys who, on St. Stephen's day, carry that " king of all birds" as the Druids called it, from house to house, suspended in a garland of ribbons and flowers and evergreens, soliciting contributions, and giving a feather for luck, singing the well-known ditty of " Hunt the Wren." Several versions of this song are to be met with; the following is from that printed in Train's History of the Isle of Man, vol. ii. p. 141, 1845.

THE HUNTING OF THE WREN.

We'll away to the woods, says Robin the Bobbin;
We'll away to the woods, says Richard the Robbin;
We'll away to the woods, says Jackey the Land;
We'll away to the woods, says every one.

What will we do there? says Robin the Bobbin, &c*.
We'll hunt the wren, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
Where is he? where is he? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
In yonder green bush, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.

* Each line is repeated four times in the same manner as the first and last are.

How can we get him down? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
With sticks and stones, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
He's down, he's down, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
How can we get him home? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
We'll hire a cart, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
Whose cart shall we hire, says Robins the Bobbin, &c.
Johnny Bill Fell's. says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
How can we get him in? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
With iron bats, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
He's at home, be's at home, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
How will we get him boiled? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
In the brewery pan, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
How will we get him eaten? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
With knives and forks, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
Who's to dine at the feast? says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
The king and the queen, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
The pluck for the poor, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.
The legs for the lame, says Robin the Bobbin, &c
The bones for the dogs, says Robin the Bobbin, &c.

He's eaten, he's eaten, says Robin the Bobbin,
He's eaten, be's eaten, says Richard the Robbin;
He's eaten. he's eaten, says Jackey the Land,
He's eaten, he's eaten, says every one."

The air is given in Barrow's Mona Melodies, 1820. The custom is not peculiar to the Isle of Man. Sonnini, in his Travels, says the inhabitants of the town of Cistat, near Marseilles, armed with sabres and pistols commence the anniversary by hunting the wren. Crofton Croker, in his " Researches in the South of Ireland," 1824, p. 233, mentions this custom as prevailing there. There are various traditions and superstitions regarding this bud still current in the Island, and some fishermen will not yet venture to sea without one of these dead birds with them.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: IanC
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 09:34 AM

I just found that Aubrey's Miscellanea has been published on the web a year earlier than scheduled by the Project Gutemberg team.

Here is at the paragraph that mentions the Wren Hunt:

Near the same place, a party of the Protestants had been surprized
sleeping by the Popish Irish, were it not for several wrens that just
wakened them by dancing and pecking on the drums as the enemy were
approaching. For this reason the wild Irish mortally hate these birds,
to this day, calling them the Devil's servants, and killing them
wherever they catch them; they teach their Children to thrust them
full of thorns: you will see sometimes on holidays, a whole parish
running like mad men from hedge to hedge a wren-hunting.


The book is concluded with the place and writing and the date "Eston Pierse, April 28, 1670", which brings it forward 20 years from the date of publishing (1690).

It can also be seen that the "Manx Legend" quoted in the DT probably ultimately arises from this quotation, as this is (so far) by far the earliest written reference to Wren Hunting.

:-)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 27 Jun 03 - 09:26 PM

One more version, from "North Country Songs" by "Gwen & Mary Polwarth", and listed as "collected from Jack Elliott of Birtley"

1.        O where are we gannin says Billy to Bob?
       O where are we gannin says Billy to Bob?
       O where are we gannln says Jack me lad?
       O where are we gannin says everyone?

2.        We'll gan a shootin' says Billy to Bob, etc.

3.        O what'll we shoot says Billy to Bob? etc.

4.        We'll shoot a cock sparrer says Billy to Bob, etc.

5.        O what'll we dee with it says Billy to Bob? etc.

6.        We'll sell it for a tanner says Billy to Bob, etc.

7.        O what'll we buy says Billy to Bob? etc.

8.        We'll buy a pot of whisky says Billy to Bob, etc.

9.        Now what if we get drunk says Billy to Bob? etc.

10.        Why how will we get hyem says Billy to Bob? etc.

11.        We'll ride in a train says Billy to Bob, etc.

12, Why how will we pay him says Billy to Bob? etc.

13, We'll pay him with a poker, says Billy to Bob,


Nigel


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Cutty Wren
From: Airymouse
Date: 07 Jul 14 - 06:40 PM

Joe Offer asked me to post this version from my CD, so here it is. Ironically the closest thing to what we sing was posted by Joe from Scots Songs. By the way, I have only heard this song so I have no idea how to spell any name. "Cosy", "mosy" and "nosy" rhyme with "rosy."Wally" is "wa lee."
Where are you going says cosy mosy?
Where are you going says Jack a thread nosy
Where are you going says brothers all three
I'm going to the woods says willy wally.

What do there?
Going hunting

What are you going to hunt?
Hunting robin redbreast

What are you going to hunt him with?
Bows and arrows

What are you going to cut him up with
knives and hatchets

What are you going to cook him in?
Pots and kettles

Who will help eat him?
My wife and children

Where you throw the bones
I'll throw them in the sea

They'll sink the ships
They'l sink in the sand


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Mudcat time: 26 November 12:09 PM EST

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