Spread the Green Branches

Bob Lewis: On Autumn Harvest ah08: Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: There's Bound to be a Row. Recorded at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2009.

An old, rare and rather beautiful song that Bob learned from an old neighbour of his mother's in Heyshott, West Sussex. Wherever the song has been found - from the south east of England to the Newfoundland Outports - it is often sung, as here, to rather fine modal tunes - in this case in the Dorian mode. Because of the text of the last verse (not present in all versions), the song is sometimes given the title Sheepcrook and Black Dog.

1: Oh spread the green branches oh whilst I am young,
So well did I like my love so sweeltlye she sung;
Was ever a man in such happy estate,
As me with my Flora, fair Flora so brave.

2: I will go to my Flora and this will I say,
"Tomorrow we'll be married, it wants but one day."
"Tomorrow," says fair Flora, "That day is to come,
To be married so earlye, my age is too young."

3: "We'll go for a service and service we'll get,
And perhaps in a few years after might substance and reap."
"Oh don't go to service leaving me here to cry."
"Oh yes, lovelye shepherd, I'll tell you for why."

4: As it happened to service and to service she went,
To wait on a lady, it was her intent;
To wait on a lady, a rich lady gay,
Who clothèd fair Flora in costly array.

5: A little time after a letter he sent,
With three or four lines in it to know her intent;
She wrote that she lived in such contented life,
That she never did intend to be a young shepherd's wife.

6: These words and expressions appeared like a dart,
I'll pluck up my courage and cheer up my heart;
Oh being that she'd never write to me any more,
Her answer convinced me quite over and o'er.

7: My yowes and my lambs I will bid them adieu,
My bottle and budget I'll leave them with you;
My sheepcrook and black dog I'll leave them behind,
Since Flora, fair Flora so changèd her mind.

c p 2010 Autumn Harvest : www.springthyme.co.uk