Author Topic: Add: The Dilly Song

Pip Freeman

Posted - 01 Jun 04 - 12:18 pm

Dilly Song, The
Come, and I will sing you.
What will you sing me?
I will sing you One, O!
What is your One, O?
One of them is all alone, and ever will remain so.

Come, and I will sing you.
What will you sing me?
I will sing you Two, O!
What is your Two, O?
Two of them are lily-white babes, and dressed all in green, O.

Come, &c.
I will sing you Three, O!
What is your Three, O?
Three of them are strangers, o'er the wide world they are rangers.

Come &c.
I will sing you Four, O!
What is your Four, O?
Four is the Dilly Hour, when blooms the gilly flower.

Come, &c.
I will sing you Five, O!
What is your Five, O?
Five it is the Dilly Bird, that's never seen, but heard, O!

Come, &c.
I will sing you Six, O!
What is your Six, O?
Six the Ferryman in the boat, that doth on the river float, O!

Come, &c.
I will sing you Seven, O!
What is your Seven, O?
Seven it is the crown of Heaven, the shining stars be seven, O!

Come, &c.
I will sing you Eight, O!
What is your Eight, O?
Eight it is the morning break, when all the world's awake, O!

Come, &c.
I will sing you Nine, O!
What is your Nine, O?
Nine it is the pale moonshine, the pale moonlight is nine, O!

Come, &c.
I will sing you Ten, O!
What is your Ten, O?
Ten forbids all kinds of sin, from ten again begin, O!

Source: Songs of the West by S. Baring-Gould.

Abridged from S. Baring-Gould's notes.

An almost endless number of versions of this song have been sent to us. It is known throughout Cornwall and is sung in chapels as a hymn.
Some other versions give-

2. God's own son or Christ's Natures, or The lily-white maids.
3. Three is all eternity, Three are the Thrones.
4. The Gospel preachers, The Evangelists.
5. The Ferryman in the Boat, The Nimble Waiters.
6. The Cherubim Watchers, The Crucifix, The Cherrybird waiters.
7. The crown of Heaven, The Seven Stars.
8. The Great Archangel, The Daybreak.
9. The Nine Delights, The Joy of Mary.
10. The Commandments.
11. The Eleven Disciples, They that go to Heaven.

These versions have more of a religious element in them.

In Devon and Cornwall the song goes by the name of 'The Dilly Song,' the meaning of the word 'Dilly' remains uncertain.

Mr Happy

Posted - 10 Jun 04 - 02:46 am

Here's the 'Dilly' song I remember from childhood:

Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender's green
When I am king, dilly dilly
You shall be queen
Who told you so, dilly dilly
Who told you so?
'T was my own heart, dilly dilly
That told me so

Call up your men, dilly dilly
Set them to work
Some to the plough, dilly dilly
Some to the fork
Some to make hay, dilly dilly
Some to reap corn
While you and I, dilly dilly
Keep ourselves warm

Roses are red, dilly dilly
Violets are blue
Because you love me, dilly dilly
I will love you
Let the bells sing, dilly dilly
And the lambs play
We shall be safe, dilly dilly
Out of harm's way


Posted - 11 Jun 04 - 10:01 am

The 'City Waites' on their LP from 1976 had this version of Mr Happy's song (from memory, I'm afraid.) The song 'Dilly Song' listed here is of course much closer to Green Grow the Rushes-O!

Lavender's green,
Lavender's blue,
You must love me,
'Cause I love you.

From memory, the verses are:

Call up your maids, dilly, dilly,
Set them to work,
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly,
Some to the flock.

Some to the flock, dilly, dilly,
Some to the corn,
While you and I, dilly, dilly,
Keep the bed warm.

I heard a bird, dilly, silly,
Sing in my ear,
Maids will be scarce, dilly, dilly,
This time next year.

For young men are, dilly, dilly,
Too wanton grown,
That they ne'er mind, dilly, dilly,
Which is their own.

The sleevenotes say "We have a hard time convincing people that the chorus of this Ballad contains the original words. But in fact nothing has been altered although verses have been omitted - about twenty three to be precise. A delightful, simple tune with an insistant quality that makes it hard to forget."

Edited By dmcg - 11-Jun-2004 10:07:20 AM

Edited By dmcg - 12-Feb-2005 01:02:24 PM

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 11 Jun 04 - 04:34 pm

Mr Happy's song (I remember it well from children's radio in the late '50s) is not even slightly related to The Dilly Song, of course. It is quite venerable, and you can see a broadside example of the 1670s at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

Diddle, diddle. Or, The kind country lovers

Claude M Simpson (The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966, p 428) comments that the 17th century tune is not known; the tune familiar today seeming first to have appeared in E F Rimbault's Nursery Rhymes, c. 1846, p 20: "perhaps a recovery from tradition."

See also Opie, Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, no. 299.

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