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> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Sweet Lemeney
> The Albion Band > Songs > Lemady / Arise and Pick a Posy
> Tony Rose > Songs > Lenady

Sweet Lemeney / Lemony / Lemady / Arise and Pick a Posy

[ Roud 193 , 2445 ; Ballad Index ReSh236A ; Bodleian Roud 193 ; trad.]

Sweet Lemeney is a song from the repertoire of the Copper Family. It is printed in The Copper Family Song Book. Jim Copper sang Lemany (recorded by Peter Kennedy at Rottingdean, Sussex, on August 1, 1951) on the Topic anthology You Never Heard So Sweet (The Voice of the People Series Volume 21; 2012). Jill Copper sang Sweet Lemeney on the Copper Family's 1971 Leader Records anthology A Song for Every Season, and Jill and Lucy Copper sang it on the 1998 CD Coppersongs 3.

Peter Bellamy recorded Sweet Lemeney for his 1975 album Peter Bellamy. He commented in his sleeve notes:

This strange, plaintive song comes from the singing of the famous Copper family of Sussex. Its origins are obscure, particularly the reference to the white robe. Was he a monk? A leper? The vicar? All intelligent guesses gratefully accepted.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Lemony in 1979 on his album Andy's Gone, on which he was accompanied by Dave and Tony Arthur and Nic Jones. Dave Arthur noted:

Lemany, Lemody, Limady, Lemonday. Another folk mystery! What does the title mean? Is it a lovers-day carol from ‘leman’, the old word for ‘lover’? However, as the song has every appearance of being an 18th century stage production, it seems likely the archaic ‘leman’ would have intruded into such a comparatively recent piece. Most singers appear to assume that ‘Lemony’ is simply a picturesque name for a girl.

The song appeared in many 19th century broadsides and has been widely collected in the south of England (though Frank Purslow suspects it may be Irish in origin), particularly in Sussex where Martin learnt it from the Sussex singer Bob Lewis.

Martin Carthy sang this song as Lemady on Keith Dewhurst and The Albion Band's 1980 album Lark Rise to Candleford that accompanied their National Theatre play. Doug Morter played the guitar solo. This track was included in 2001 on the anthology The Carthy Chronicles. Another version from the Albion Band's 1988 show The Wild Side of Town was included on their album Songs from the Shows.

This video shows Arise and Pick a Posy from the last performance of Lark Rise by The Pranksters Theatre Company in the Castle Grounds, Guildford, on July 18, 2009:

Tony Rose recorded this song in 1999 as Lenady for his CD Bare Bones.

Eliza Carthy sang Lemady on her and Martin Green's album Dinner. She commented in the record's sleeve notes:

Lemady was suggested to me by Saul Rose, who remembered it from his misspent folk-rock youth and helped me and Martin [Green] to change the timing. Honourable P's Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson provided words.

Jim Moray sang Lemady in 2001 on his first EP I Am Jim Moray. This track was also included in 2010 on his compilation CD A Beginner's Guide.

Barry Lister sang Limadie in 2006 on his WildGoose CD Ghosts & Greasepaint.

The Askew Sisters sang Sweet Lemaney in 2010 on their WildGoose CD Through Lonesome Woods. They commented in their liner notes:

Our version of this beautiful song was first heard on a recording by Peter Bellamy, but we’ve also taken some words from broadside ballad versions. It originates from the south west and is also known as Lemonay, Lemady, Limmony, Limadee amongst others, and is thought to come from ‘Leman’, the archaic word for lover. The significance of the white robes in the last line is unclear, but sometimes appears as coloured robes in other versions. Emily has also let Hazel pluck a few notes on the fiddle for this arrangement!

Jon Boden sang Lemady as the March 31, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He noted in his blog:

A beautiful aubade sung quite widely in a variety of versions. This is from Martin Carthy who sung it on Lark Rise to Candleford. I'm not sure where he got it from—sounds a bit more broadside-ish than the Copper family's version so perhaps he compiled it from written sources? That's a guess though.

Andy Turner learned Sweet Lemeney from Bob Copper's book A Song for Every Season. He sang it as the June 23, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Ollie King sang Sweet Lemeney in 2017 on his CD Diffractions. He commented in his liner notes:

As with many people, I first heard a version of this song on The Albion Band's Lark Rise to Candleford, and I have wanted to record a version for a while. I came across the words in Bob Copper's A Song for Every Season, and the tune is one of my own that's loosely based on a number of traditional variations.

Tim Jones and the Dark Lanterns sang Sweet Lemeny on their 2017 CD Blossom & Fruit.

A similar version called One Midsummer's Morn found at the Mudcat is listed below.

Lyrics

The Copper Family sing Sweet Lemeney Peter Bellamy sings Sweet Lemeney

As I was a-walking one fine summer's morning,
The fields and the meadows they looked so green and gay;
And the birds they were singing so pleasantly adorning,
So early in the morning at the break of the day.

As I was a-walking one fine summer's morning,
Oh he fields and the meadows they looked so green and gay;
And the birds were singing so pleasantly adorning,
Right early in the morning at the break of the day.

Oh hark, oh hark, how the nightingale is singing,
The lark she is taking her flight all in the air.
On yonder green bower the turtle doves are building,
The sun is just a-glimmering. Arise my dear.

Hark, oh hark, how the nightingale is singing,
And the lark she is a-taking her flight all in the air.
On yonder green bower the turtle doves are building,
The sun is just a-glimmering. Arise my dear.

Arise, oh, arise and get your humble posies,
For they are the finest flowers that grow in yonder grove.
And I will pluck them all sweet lily, pink and roses,
All for Sweet Lemeney, the girl that I love.

Arise, oh, arise and get your charming posies,
They are the fairest flowers that grow in yonder grove.
I will pluck off them all sweet lilies, pinks and rosies,
All for my Sweet Lemeney, the girl that I love.

Oh, Lemeney, oh, Lemeney, you are the fairest creature,
You are the fairest creature that ever my eyes did see.
And then she played it over all on the pipes of ivory,
So early in the morning at the break of the day.

Oh, Lemeney, oh, Lemeney, you are the fairest creature,
Yes, you are the fairest creature that ever my eyes did see.
And she played it all over all upon her pipes of ivory,
Right early in the morning at the break of the day.

Oh, how could my true-love, how could she vanish from me,
Oh, how could she go and I never shall see her more.
But it was her cruel parents that looked so slightly on me,
All for the white robe that I once used to wear.

How could my true love, how could she vanish from me
Oh, how could she go so I never shall see her more.
Well it was her cruel parents who looked so slightly on me,
And it's all for the white robe that I once used to wear.

(repeat first verse)

The Albion Band sing Lemady Tony Rose sings Lenady

Hark, says the fair maid, the nightingale is singing,
The larks they are ringing their notes up in the air.
Small birds and turtledoves on every bough are building,
The sun is just a-glimmering; arise my dear.

Hark, said the fair maid, the nightingales are singing,
The larks they are ringing their notes up in the air.
Small birds and turtledoves on every bough are building,
The sun is just a-glimmering; arise my dear.

Rise up, my fair one, and pick your love a posy,
It is the finest flower that ever my eyes did see.
It's I will bring you posies, both lily-white pinks and roses;
There's none so fair a flower as the lad I adore.

Rise up, my fair one, and pick your love a posy,
It is the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see.
I will pick you posies, sweet lily-pink and rosy;
There's none so fair a flower as the lass I adore.

Lemady, Lemady, you are a lovely creature,
You are the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see.
I'll play you a tune all on the pipes of ivory
So early in the morning before break of day.

Lenady, Lenady, you are a lovely creature,
You are the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see.
I will play you tunes all on the pipes of ivory
So early in the morning before break of day.

Arise and pick a posy, sweet lily-pink and rosy
It is the finest flower that ever I did see
Small birds and turtledoves on every bough are building
The sun is just a-glimmering; arise my dear.

So arise and pick a posy, sweet lily-pink and rosy
It is the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see
Small birds and turtledoves on every bough are building
The sun is just a-glimmering; arise my dear.

Eliza Carthy sings Lemady One Midsummer's Morn's lyrics from the Mudcat

As I was a-walking one midsummer's morning,
Fields and the meadows were covered with green
Birds a-sweetly singing, so pleasant and so charming
Early in the morning by the break of day.

One midsummer's morn, as I was a-walking,
The fields and the meadows were covered with green
The birds a-sweetly singing, so pleasant and so charming
So early in the morning by the break of day.

Hark, says the fair maid, the nightingales are singing,
The larks they are winging their notes up in the air.
Small birds and turtle-doves on every bough are building,
Day is just a-glimmering; arise, my dear!

Oh hark, hark, the nightingales are singing,
The larks they are taking their flight into the air,
And in every green border the turtle-doves are building,
Just as the sun was glimmering; arise, my dear!

Rise up, my fair one, and pick your love a posy,
It's the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see,
It's I will pick you posies, both lily-white, pinks and roses,
There's none so fair a flower, that's the lad I adore.

Arise, arise! Go pluck your love a posy,
One of the prettiest flowers that grows in yonder green,
Oh yes! I'll arise and pluck lilies, pinks and roses,
All for my dearest Lemady, the girl I adore.

Lemady, Lemady, you are a lovely creature,
You're the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see!
I'll play you a tune all on the pipes of ivory,
Early in the morning, by the break of the day.

Oh Lemady, oh Lemady, what lovely lass art thou,
Thou art the fairest creature that ever my eye did see!
I'll play you a tune all on the pipes of ivory,
So early in the morning, by the break of day.

Why should my true love go banished from me?
For if he should die I would never see him more.
It was my cruel parents that look so slightly on me?
Because of the colour that my true love wears.

They why should my true love be banished from me?
For if she should die I should never see her more.
Oh why should my parents look so slightly on me?
They rob me of my Lemady, the girl I adore.

Lemady, Lemady, you are a lovely creature,
You're the fairest flower that ever my eyes did see!
I'll play you a tune all on the pipes of ivory,
Early in the morning, by the break of the day.

Lemady, Lemady
Lemady, Lemady

Cornish version of Limadie, passed on by Malcolm Douglas

Oh early one morning as I was walking
The fields and the meadows they looked so green and gay
The birds sang so sweetly, so pleasant and so charming
So early in the morning at the break of the day.

Oh hark, oh hark how the nightingale is singing
The lark she is taking her flight in the air
The turtle dove in every green bower is building
The sun is just glimmering, arise then, my dear.

Arise, love, arise, I have plucked you a nosegay
The sweetest of flowers that grow in yonder grove
Oh I have plucked them fresh from the lily, pink and rosetree
And it's all for my Limadie, the girl that I love.

O Limadie, O Limadie, thou art the fairest flower
Thou art the sweetest flower that e'er mine eyes did see
And the tunes that I will play to thee shall be on flute of ivory
For my heart is so full of soft love melody.

Oh why should my true love be banished from me?
Oh why should she die and I never see her more?
Because that her parents look so slightingly upon me
I too will die for Limadie, the girl I adore.

Notes on the Cornish version

Malcolm Douglas commented in the Mudcat Café thread Help: Lemady - Confusion in 1999 (I added the name of Gundry's book which Douglas omitted):

As promised, a version from Mawgan in Cornwall, kindly sent to me by Jeremy Main. This is from Canow Kernow: Songs and Dances from Cornwall by Inglis Gundry (ed.), The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, 1966. From the accompanying notes:

…found… in the papers of the late Grand Bard, Morton Nance, at Truro Museum, together with the Cornish translation made by his predecessor, Henry Jenner… It now seems clear that originally this song was an aubade sung by a group of young men (or sometimes young women) to their “lemans” or sweethearts early on midsummer morning, or “leman-day”, and that the imaginary person known as Lemady, or Limadie, or Lemminy (in the Catnach ballad with much the same words as ours) came into existence only after this custom of “sweethearting” fell into disuse and was no longer understood.

This version was collected by Jenner from William Gilbert of the Vale of Lanherne; Sabine Baring-Gould had a (different) version from Gilbert's father, Samuel, who kept the Falcon Inn there.

but added in 2003:

That “leman-day” business I quoted from Gundry, getting on for 5 years ago in this very thread when I was quite the newbie, seems even less likely now than it did then.

Links and Acknowledgements

See also the Mudcat Café threads Lyric Req: Lemady and Help: Lemady - Confusion.

Thanks to Malcolm Douglas for the Albion Band transcription and for the Cornish version. Eliza Carthy transcription by Reinhard Zierke.