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When Spring Comes In/On

[ Roud 439 ; Ballad Index WT222 ; Wiltshire Roud 439 ; trad.]

George Townshend from Sussex sang When Spring Comes In in 1960 to Brian Matthews. This recording was published in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Come, Hand to Me the Glass. A second recording of this song, made in 1960 too by Ken Stubbs, was added to the album's 2012 2-CD reissue. The album's booklet commented:

It would seem that this song is found only in England, from the 18 examples we know about. Twelve of these are from Sussex, but this is rather misleading, since 11 of those are accounted for by George and the Copper family! Despite being named Spring Glee on several Coppers records, it was only actually collected with that name from Sam Bennett of Ilmington, Warwickshire, by Peter Kennedy in 1950—who just may have had a hand in its subsequent renaming when he recorded the Coppers in the '60s.

The tune of this song is a version of Malbrouck s'en va-t-en guerre—a widespread tune which is also the forerunner of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow and We Won't Go Home 'Til Morning.

This was one of the first songs George learned from his father, and the first he sang in public, back on the 29th of September 1888 in The Jolly Sportsman.

A later recording of George Townshend made by Mike Yates in ca. 1975 was included with the title The Ploughboy's Joy in 1987 on the Veteran Tapes cassette Ripest Apples, and in 2006 on the Veteran CD anthology It Was on a Market Day—Two.

Peter Kennedy recorded Bob and Ron Copper singing When Spring Comes In in 1963. This recording was published in the same year on their EFDSS LP Traditional Songs from Rottingdean and in 2001 on the Topic CD Come Write Me Down: Early Recordings of the Copper Family of Rottingdean. The Copper Family also sang it in May 1995 on their CD Coppersongs 2: The Living Tradition of the Copper Family.

This YouTube video shows the Copper Family singing When Spring Comes In in 2007:

Peter Bellamy sang this song with the slightly changed title When Spring Comes On on June 22, 1971 live at the Folk Studio, Norwich. He accompanyied himself on concertina, the audience cheerfully joined in on the chorus. This concert was issued on his LP with Louis Killen, Won't You Go My Way?.

Andy Turner learned When Spring Comes In from Bob Copper's book A Song for Every Season. He sang it as the April 16, 2016 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

George Townshend sings When Spring Comes In

When the Spring comes in the birds do sing, the lambs do play and the bells do ring,
When the Spring comes in the birds do sing, the lambs do play and the bells do ring.
The primrose blooms and the cowslip too,
The violets in their sweet attire, the bluebells shining through the briar,
The daffy-dilly we all admire, while daisies fade away.

From mountains high and meadows green, young men and maidens will be seen,
From mountains high and meadows green, young men and maidens will be seen.
Through woods and groves, they will take their way,
They talks of tales and courts and sales, all little lambs around them play,
And at night they onward bend their way when th' evening stars appear.

The dairymaid to milking goes with her blooming cheeks as red as a rose,
The dairymaid to milking goes with her blooming cheeks as red as a rose.
She milks, she sings, makes the valleys ring,
The small birds on the branches there are listening to this lovely fair.
For she is her master's trust and care, she is the ploughboy's joy.

The Copper Family sing When Spring Comes In

When Spring comes in the birds do sing,
The lambs do skip and the bells do ring
While we enjoy their glorious charm so noble and so gay.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
The primrose blooms and the cowslip too,
The violets in their sweet retire, the roses shining through the briar,
And the daffadown-dillies which we admire will die and fade away.

Young men and maidens will be seen
On mountains high and meadows green,
They will talk of love and sport and play
While these young lambs do skip away.
At night they homeward wend their way
When evening stars appear.

The dairymaid to milking goes her, blooming cheeks as red as a rose,
She carries her pail all on her arm so cheerful and so gay,
She milks, she sings, and the valleys ring.
The small birds on the branches there sit listening to this lovely fair.
She is her master's trust and care, she is the ploughman's joy.

Peter Bellamy sings When Spring Comes On

When Spring comes on then the birds do sing,
The lambs do skip and the bells do ring
While we enjoy their glorious charm so noble and so gay.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
The primrose blooms, the cowslips too,
The violets in their sweet retire, the roses shining through the briar,
And the daffodown-dillies which we admire will die and fade away.

Young men and maidens they will be seen
On mountains high and meadows green,
They will talk of love and sport and play
While them young lambs do skip away.
At night they homeward wend their way
When evening stars appear.

The dairymaid to milking goes, her blooming cheeks as red as a rose,
And she carries her pail all on her arm so cheerful and so gay,
She milks, she sings, and the valleys ring.
The small birds on the branches there sit listening to this lovely fair
For she is her master's trust and care, she is the ploughman's joy.

(Chorus)