As I went out one May morning,
One May morning betime,
I met a maid, from home had stray'd
Just as the sun did shine.
What makes you rise so soon, my dear,
Your journey to pursue?
Your pretty little feet they tread so sweet,
Strike off the morning dew.
I'm going to feed my father's flock,
His young and tender lambs
That over hill and over dales
Lie waiting for their dams.
O stay! O stay! you handsome maid,
And rest a moment here,
For there is none but you alone,
That I do love so dear.
How gloriously the sun doth shine,
How pleasant is the air,
I'd rather rest on my true love's breast
Than any other where.
For I am thine and thou art mine;
No man shall uncomfort thee;
We'll join our hands in wedded bands
And married we will be.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Sharp, C (ed),1916,One Hundred English Folksongs,Boston,Oliver Ditson Co
Cecil Sharp notes follow:
So far as I know, this has not been published elsewhere. The tune is modal, but lacking the sixth of the scale, it may be either AEolian or Dorian -I have harmonized it in the latter mode.
The words are almost exactly as they were sung to me. Taking words and tune together, I consider this to be a very perfect example of a folk song.
Like The Death of Queen Jane, this was noted from Mrs. Sweet; at Somerton, Somerset, on the 2nd August 1906 and again on the 16th August 1907. Either Sharp has made rather more changes to her text that he says, and introduced a verse (fourth above) from somewhere else, or Mrs. Sweet sang the song rather differently on those two occasions. Maud Karpeles includes that verse in the set of the song printed in The Crystal Stream (1975) but not (confusingly) in the much more extensive Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs (1974). The former is also closer in other respects to the text we have here.
The song doesn't seem to have been found very widely in tradition, and only once or twice outside the South of England (in Ireland). It persists, however, and was recorded as recently as 1995, from Bob Lewis of Saltdean in Sussex, by John Howson (When the May is All in Bloom, Veteran VT131CD, 1995); Bob learned it at school, from a teacher, however, so the vector in that case is likely to have been one of Sharp's publications; Searching For Lambs also appeared in Folk Songs From Somerset (1909), English Folk Songs, Selected Edition (1921) and Novello's School Series (1909).
Some authorities make a strict distinction between this song and Searching For Young Lambs (The Long and Wishing Eye), which has been found more widely in tradition, but there seems to be a degree of overlap.
Roud: 576 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six