Why May is the month for folk songs…..

Who actually knows?  But if you do please enlighten me!

So many traditional songs start with:

“One May morning…..”

“As I roved out one May morning…..”

“One morning in May…..”

etc etc ad infinitum!

Out of all the months May is surely the one with the most songs and for this I LOVE it.  It is also the most beautiful month for plants too.

Look at all the late spring flowers and the trees unfurling their leaves right now!! In fact most of the songs mentioned below contain flowers, plants, trees and nature 💚

Here are some of my favourites :

Searching for Lambs

“As I marched out, one May morning, one May morning betide…” (the first version is a very classical version and not so folky but is still based on the original folk song)

& my version complete with actual sheep and lambs

The Birds in the Spring by the Copper Family

“One May morning I chanced for to roam and strolled through the fields by the side of the grove…”

my version

Gathering Rushes by Anne Briggs

“A fine young girl all in the month of May, was gathering rushes just at the break of day…..”

and my version (interrupted by a random horseman who appears out of nowhere!)

Barbara Allen  

‘”‘Twas in the merry month of May, the green buds were a swelling….”

One Morning in May

“One morning in May as I carelessly did stray, to view the green meadows and the lambs sport and play…”

As I Roved Out

“As I roved out on a bright May morning, to view the meadows and flowers gay….”

These ones are both sung here by the wonderful Irish singer Niamh Parsons.  They are particularly  poignant songs and represent the often fickle nature of love.  In fact I admit I may well have shed the odd tear singing the first one as I wrote this!

I sang the latter song back in 2005 (!) at the National Folk festival for the singers competition and ended up winning it! 

I learnt it off a recording from good old Kate Rusby – a lovely folk singer from Yorkshire and just a gorgeous person

And yet there are more……

The Bonny Black Hare (warning… this song contains possibly the most euphemisms used in a folk song!)

“On the fourteenth of May at the dawn of the day…”

Here is a marvellous version on a banjo

& my version (part of the song anyway)

And finally… of course there are rather a few May Day songs too (maybe I should have started off with these but it seems like so long ago now since the start of the month)

May Song 

“Winter time has gone and past-o,
Summer time has come at last-o.
We shall sing and dance the day
And follow the ‘obby ‘orse that brings the May……..

……Blue bells they have started to ring-o,
And true love, it is the thing-o.
Love on any other day
Is never quite the same as on the First of May!”

And finally the beginning of the month at the end:

That’s all for folks – now go and sing!!

Oh and PS I launched my podcast on May 1st last year – you can listen to it here

1 thought on “Why May is the month for folk songs…..”

  1. Julie this is fantastic! Thank you for all of the lovely songs — especially yours! Years ago, I got my hands on a niamh parsons cd. LOVE her voice.

    And wouldn’t you know, I was born on the fourteenth of May.

    Love your work, your words, your songs, your sharings. xoxo

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