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By chance it was I met my love,
It did me much surprise,
Down by a shady myrtle grove,
Just as the sun did rise.
The birds they sang right gloriously,
And pleasant was the air;
And there was none, save she and I,
Among the flowers fair.

In dewy grass and green we walk'd,
She was timid and was coy;
"How can'st thou choose but pity me,
My pretty pearl, my joy?
How comes it that thou stroll'st this way?
Sweet Maiden, tell me true,
Before bright Pheobus' glittering ray
Has supped the morning dew?"

"I go to tend the flocks I love
The ewes and tender lambs,
That pasture by the myrtle grove,
That gambol by thier dams;
There I enjoy a pure content
At dawning of the day,"
Then, hand in hand, we lovers went
To see the flock at play.

And as whe wended down the road.
I said to her, "Sweet maid,
Three years I in my place abode
And three more must be stayed.
Three times that I am bound so fast,
O fairest wait for me.
And when these weary years are passed
Then married we will be"

Three years are long, three times to long,
Too lengthy the delay".
O then I answered in my song,
"Hope wastes them quick away.
Where love is fervent, fain and fast,
And knoweth not decay.
There nimbly fleet the seasons past
Accounted as one day."

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Source: Source: Songs Of The West, S Baring Gould

Baring Gould notes:
Music and words dictated by James Parsons, hedger, Lew Down; he had learned it from his father. "The Singing Machine"

A second version of the melody was obtained from Bruce Tyndall. Esq., of Emouth who had learned it from a Devonshire nurse in 1839 or 1840. The melody was but a varient. It had lost the E natural that comes in so pleasantly.

The tune was certainly originally in the Dorian mode, the Eb being an altertion of a modern singer. We did not, however, feel jutified in restoring the air to its early form, as we had no authority for so doing.

The words of the song are to be found in a collection of early ballad books in the British Museum, entitled "The Court of Apollo." There it consists of six verses, the first three of which are almost identical to ours. In "The Songster's Favourite Companion," a later collection, the same song occurs. There it is in three verses only and in a very corrupt form.

We are inclined to think that the song dates from the time of James I. or Charles I.

Roud: 6901 (Search Roud index at VWML)

Related Songs:  Roving Jack [Roving Journeyman] (melodic)

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