Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Trad Tuesday: Hal An Tow sung by Tempest



Hal An Tow is a traditional May Day song. The term “halan” means “calends,” or first of the month, and “tow” means “garland”. This is No. 135, under the title Helston Furry Dance, in Palmer's Everyman's Book of English Country Songs.

It has been sung by many folk groups and singers including Oysterband, the Waterstons,  and the Albion Band. This version is sung by Tempest, an American Celtic band from the San Francisco area.

Lyrics (there are various sets of lyrics, so this is just one):

take the scorn and wear the horns
it was the crest when you were born
your father's father wore it
and your father wore it too

Robin Hood and Little John
have both gone to the fair-o
we shall to the merry green wood
to hunt the buck and hare-o

hal-an-tow, jolly rumbelow
we were up long before the day-o
to welcome in the summertime
to welcome in the May
for summer is a-coming in
and winter's gone away

what happened to the Spaniards
that made so great a boast-o?
they shall eat the feathered goose
and we shall eat the roast-o

God bless Aunt Mary Moses
with all her power and might-o
send us peace in England
send peace by day and night-o

hal-an-tow, jolly rumbelow
we were up long before the day-o
to welcome in the summertime
to welcome in the May
for summer is a-coming in
and winter's gone away