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First comes January
When the sun lies very low;
I see in the farmer's yard
The cattle feed on stro';
The weather being so cold
While the snow lies on the ground,
There will be another change of moon
Before the year comes round.

Next is February,
So early in the spring;
The Farmer ploughs the fallows
The rooks their nests begin.
The little lambs appearing
Now frisk in pretty play.
I think upon the increase,
And thank my God, today.

March it is the next month,
So cold and hard and drear.
Prepare we now for harvest,
By brewing of strong beer.
God grant that we who labour,
May see the reaping come,
And drink and dance and welcome
The happy Harvest Home.

Next of months is April,
When early in the morn
The cheery farmer soweth
To right and left the corn.
The gallant team come after,
A-smoothing of the land.
May heaven the Farmer prosper
Whate'er he takes in hand.

In May I go a-walking
To hear the linnets sing.
The blackbird and the throstle
A-praising God the King.
It cheers the heart to hear them
To see the leaves unfold,
The meadows scattered over
With buttercups of gold.

Full early in the morning
Awakes the summer sun,
The month of June arriving,
The cold and night are done,
The Cuckoo is a fine bird
She whistles as she flies,
And as whistles, Cuckoo,
The bluer grow the skies.

Six months I now have named,
The seventh is July.
Come lads and lasses gather
The scented hay to dry,
All full of mirth and gladness
To turn it in the sun,
And never cease till daylight sets
And all the work is done.

August brings the harvest,
The reapers now advance,
Against their shining sickles
The field stands little chance.
Well done! exclaims the farmer.
This day is all men's friend.
We'll drink and feast in plenty
When we the harvest end.

By middle of September,
The rake is laid aside.
The horses wear the breeching
Rich dressing to provide,
All things to do in season,
Me-thinks is just and right.
Now summer season's over
The frosts begin at night.

October leads in winter.
The leaves begin to fall.
The trees will soon be naked
No flowers left at all.
The frosts will bite them sharply
The Elm alone is green.
In orchard piles of apples red
For cyder press are seen.

The eleventh month, November,
The nights are cold and long,
By day we're felling timber,
And spend the night in song.
In cozy chimney corner
We take our toast and ale,
And kiss and tease the maidens,
Or tell a merry tale.

Then comes dark December,
The last of months in turn.
With holly, box and laurel,
We house and Church adorn.
So now, to end my story,
I wish you all good cheer.
A merry, happy Christmas,
A prosperous new year.

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

A popular song among farm labourers. Three versions of the words and air and words were taken down, one at South Brent, one at Belstone, one at Post Bridge. The air is clearly an old dance tune. The version we preferred was that given us by J. Potter, farmer, of Merripit, Post Bridge. For like songs, see "English County Songs," p. 143, and Barrett's "Folk Songs" Barrett has the same air as ours, but in triple time.

Roud: 1954 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  All the Months of the Year (thematic) The Seasons of the Year (thematic)

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