By A Bank As I Lay
Version 2
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns


Information
Lyrics
There are two different sets of words and tunes with this title.*

A letter dated 1565 references By A Bank As I Lay as being in a collection of ancient ballads. The two versions are referred to in Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time. One set is a song sung by King Henry VIII and Sir Peter Carew.**

Chappell writes the other appears in "Royal MSS, Appendix 58" and notes it is said to be "a studied composition." He also notes the words (but not the tune) were printed by Payne Collier in his Extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company (1849). However, in 1919 it was discovered that many of Collier's ballads, were, in fact, either outright forgeries, or his own variants of ballads.***

By a bank as I lay
Myself alone did muse, Hey ho!
A bird's sweet voice did me rejoice
She sang before the day.
Methought full well I wot her lay,
She said, The Winter's past, Hey ho!
Down, derry down,
Down derry, down derry,
Down, derry down, derry down,
Derry down, down!


Master of Spring's sweet music,
The lusty nightingale, Hey ho!
Full merrily and secretly
She singeth in the thicke;
Within her breast a thorn doth prick
To keep her off from sleep, Hey ho!
Down, derry down,
Down derry, down derry,
Down, derry down, derry down,
Derry down, down!


Waken therefore, young men,
All ye that lovers be, Hey ho!
This month of May, so fresh, so gay,
So fair by field and fen,
Hath flower'd o'er each leafy den;
Great joy it is to see; Hey ho!
Down, derry down,
Down derry, down derry,
Down, derry down, derry down,
Derry down, down!


  • Other versions at this site:
  • Related Links
    From *One Hundred Songs of England and
    **Popular Music of the Olden Time
    See Bibliography for full information.
    And ***Bruce Olsen's Roots of Folk Website.