Author Topic: Singing Games

Jon Freeman

Posted - 31 Aug 02 - 04:08 pm

I think singing games must be "folkish"... Pip tells me she remembers playing this one:

Green Gravel

The children join hands and move slowly round in a circle while they sing
Green gravel, green gravel, the grass is so green,
The fairest young maiden that ever was seen,
O (Mary), sweet (Mary), your true love is dead,
We send you a letter, so turn round your head.

The child addressed by name turns round in her place and faces outwards. She moves round with the others who sing:-
We'll wash you with milk,
We'll dress you with silk.
And write down your name
With a gold pen and ink.

The song is repeated until all the children are facing outwards

From "100 Singing Games Old New & Adapted", pub: Bayley & Ferguson 1916.


T:Green Gravel
B2|G2E2B2|G2E2(F G)|A2G2F2|G4B2|G2E2B2|G2E2(F G)|A2G2F2|E4e2|c2A2e2|c2A2(B c)|_d2c2B2|c4e2|c2A2e2|c2A2(B c)|_d2c2B2|A4B2|G2E2B2|(G2E2)(F G)|A2G2F2|G4B2|G2E2B2|(G2E2)F G|A2G2F2|E4
w:Green gra-vel, green gra-vel, the_ grass is so green, The fair-est young maid-en that_ ev-er was seen, O (Ma-ry), sweet (Ma-ry), your_ true love is dead, We send you a let-ter so_ turn round your head. We'll was you with milk,_ We'll_ dress you in silk, And write down your name_ With a gold pen and ink.

Edited By Jon Freeman - 8/31/2002 4:08:35 PM


Posted - 31 Aug 02 - 09:04 am

I would recommend anyone interested in this subject to read "The Singing Game" by Peter and Iona Opie. My copy has ISBN 0-19-284019-3. As a working hypothesis, *anything* by Peter and Iona is worth reading!

They say The earliest records of the game [Green Gravel] being played is in the Gorton district of Manchester about 1835.


Posted - 31 Aug 02 - 09:16 am

I forgot to ask Jon: do you have the ABC for this or shall I work it out from the Opie version?

Jon Freeman

Posted - 31 Aug 02 - 11:43 am

Thanks Dave. I've edited my post and put the abc with it.

I can't produce a png graphic from the tune just yet but it should be possible to cut and paste the abc here should anyone wish to hear a MIDI of abc posted to the forum.


Mary in Kentucky

Posted - 31 Aug 02 - 02:15 pm

I had never heard this song before I found it in a beginner's piano book I used when teaching. (Got sick of it.) That's a cute game, I'll look for the book Dave mentioned.


Posted - 21 Oct 06 - 12:10 pm

Added the Derbyshire and Lancashire versions from "English County Songs". The Lancashire version is almost the same as the tune at the start of this thread.

The descriptions of the games are included along with the songs; that for Derbyshire has some speculation on the part of Lucy Broadwood.

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