May Day Song
Bedfordshire Notes and Queries Vol. 1 1886
On May-day eve it appears to be the custom at Tilsworth for some of the young men of the village to go round to the different houses and leave a branch of May for every maiden in each house sticking in the ground of leaving in the building. The following verses are also sung on the occasion:-
To-day, to-day is the first of May
The springtime of the year
And if you please on another day
Well taste of your strong beer.
And if strong beer you have not got
Well be content with small,
Well pledge thee will against that day
And give God thanks for all.
A branch of May I have you brought
And at your door it stands,
It is but a sprout, but its well budded out,
It is the work of our Lords hands.
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids
And view your may so gay
Or else youll say on another day
We brought you not your may.
I have a purse in my pocket
Tied with a silken string,
Well thank you for some silver
To line it well within.
This custom being so different to ant other that I have observed, I made enquiry and ascertained that it has been followed from time immemorial. I believe it is usual, as indicated in the last verse, to go round on May day and collect for a feast; at any rate I was not applied to line the purse, so only speak from hearsay. I have slightly altered the lines to make them more grammatical.
Page last updated: 4th February 2014