As John was hurrying down the glade,
He met his sweetheart Kit;
"O whither so fast?" the maiden asked,
Lets bide and talk a bit?"
"I'm going to the barn, and if you'll come,
And help me thresh the stro',
That task complete, why then my sweet,
A ramble we will go."
She gave consent, and to work they went,
As if 'twere only play;
The flail he plied, whilst Kit untied,
The sheaves, and cleared away.
O willing hands made labour light,
And 'ere the sun was low,
With arms entwined, these lovers kind,
Did down the vallies go.
Said Jan, "thou art a helpful lass,
Wilt thou be mine for life?"
"For sure!" she said. To church they sped,
And soon were man and wife.
A lesson then, for all young men
Who would a courting go,
Your sweetheart ask to share your task,
And thresh the Barley Stro'
Now many a year, this couple dear,
They lived in harmony;
And children had, both lass and lad,
I think 'twas thirty three.
The sons so hale did wield the flail,
And like their father grow;
The maidens sweet, like mother were neat:
And clean as the Barley Stro'.
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Source: Songs of the West by S. Baring-Gould.
Taken down from the singing of Mr G. H. Hurell, the blind organist at Chagford, as he heard it sung by a carpenter, William Beare in 1875. The air was used by by A. S. Rich, without its most characteristic passages, for Hunnaman's comic "Old King Cole," pub. circ. 1830. Much the same tune is in Ackerman's "Wiltshire Tales," 1853, as a Wiltshire Harvest Home, p132. Harmonised in the Aeolian mode, though the seventh of the scale is absent.
Roud: 12814 (Search Roud index at VWML)