Nonesuch / The Bitter Withy

from by Wolfscote

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about

Nonesuch (Instrumental)

From John Playford’s The English Dancing Master (1651) or ‘Plaine and easie rules for the dancing of country dances, with the tune to each dance… to be sold by John Playford, at his shop in the Inner temple neere the church doore.’

Bitter Withy
Much loved by revival singers, this song with its joyful tune remains outside the mainstream canon of hymns and carols. The vengeful Christ child finds his roots in the apocryphal Gospels. Popular amongst the people, Cecil Sharp published versions from Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, Vaughan Williams collected more than half a dozen versions in Hereford and Shrophshire.

lyrics

The Bitter Withy

As it fell out on a bright summer’s day
Small rain from heaven did fall
Our Saviour asked his mother dear
If he might go play at the ball

“At ball, at ball, my own dear son
It’s time that you were gone
But don’t let me hear of any doings
This night when you come home.”

Then it’s up the hill and down the hill
Our bright young Saviour run
Until he met three rich young lords -
Good morning to each one

“Good morn, good morn, good morn, good morn
Good morn to you,” says he
“Now which of you three rich young lords
Will play at the ball with me?”

“Oh, we are lords’ and ladies’ sons
Born in bower and hall
And you are nothing but a poor jew’s child
Born in an ox’s stall.”

“Well if you are lords’ and ladies’ sons
Born in bower and hall
I’ll make you believe at your latter end
I’m an angel above you all.”

Then he built him a bridge of the beams of the sun
And over the bridge ran he
Those three young lords ran after him
And drowned they were all three

Then it’s up the hill and down the hill
Three rich young mothers run
Saying “Mary mild, call home your child
For ours he’s drowned each one.”

Then Mary mild called home her child
Set him across her knee
And with a bundle of withy twigs
She gave him lashes three

“O! bitter withy, O! bitter withy,
Thou caused me to smart
And the withy shall be the very first tree
To perish at the heart.”

credits

from Turn The Glass, released April 18, 2015
Cathy Lesurf: vocals, percussion. Isobel Kimberly: vocals, shruti box, percussion. Gary Southwell: nylon 9 string guitar, percussion. Jim Kimberly: steel string guitar, electric guitar, vocals, percussion. Gordon Giltrap: steel string guitar.

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Wolfscote Nottingham, UK

Tasting notes: An elegant distillation of traditional songs with complexity and depth: Notes of smoke and honey melting into top notes of breathtaking clarity.

Great voices, rich harmonies, powerful acoustic arrangements that find the heart of every song, from artists at the peak of their powers.

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