> Eliza Carthy > Songs > I Wish That the Wars Were All Over

I Wish That the Wars Were All Over

[ Roud 2036 ; VWML SBG/1/2/827 ; Bodleian Roud 2036 ; trad.]

Roy Harris sang I Would That the Wars Were All Done on the 1979 Fellside album The Rambling Soldier. This track was also included in 1992 on the Fellside anthology of English traditional songs, Voices. Paul Adams commented in the latter album's notes:

The tradition has a fair stock of jingoistic songs but this one finds the folk getting closer to reality with a heartfelt longing for peace. The song appears to belong to the latter half of the eighteenth century. It was collected by Rev. Baring-Gould towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Helen Hockenhull sang I Would That the Wars Were All Over on the 1980 Muckram Wakes album Warbles, Jangles and Reeds.

Tim Eriksen sang I Wish the Wars Were All Over in 2001 on his eponymous Appleseed album, Tim Eriksen.

Eliza Carthy & The Ratcatchers (Jon Boden, Ben Ivitsky and John Spiers) sang I Wish That the Wars Were All Over at Buxton Opera House in 2007:

She wrote in the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: I Wish the Wars Were All Over (which also provided the lyrics below) that the words are mostly from Roy Palmer's book The Rambling Soldier, and that this song would appear on the next Waterson:Carthy album.

Jon Boden sang I Wish That the Wars Were All Over as the July 3, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

The Askew Sisters sang I Wish the Wars Were All Over in 2014 on their RootBeat CD In the Air or the Earth. They noted:

Another song full of natural imagery is I Wish the Wars Were All Over. In many ways it's a non-political anti-war song, telling the story of those left behind in times of conflict. At first it appears to be a typical pastoral song, but the literal images of flowers and nature start to become metaphors for the woman's absent lover sent to war; she is left powerless so the plucks flowers, tangible thing from her environment, and uses their symbolism to cross the boundary into his unreachable world.

Versions of this song date back to at least the 1700s,but it is timeless that could apply to many periods of conflict. The tune we sing is based on the one collected by Sabine Baring-Gould from Sam Fone of Mary Tavy, Devon, in 1893. Our text is again assembled from many different versions and Hazel reworked and rewrote some of the lines.

Andy Turner sang I Wish That the Wars Were All Over as the April 19, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Helen Hockenhull sings I Would That the Wars Were All Over

In the meadow one morning when pearly with dew
A fair pretty maiden plucked violets so blue,
I heard a sweet voice making all the woods ring -
Oh my love is in Flanders to fight for the king
And I would that the wars were all over
Oh I would that the wars were all done.

I'll pluck the red robin so jaunty and gay,
Yet I have my Robin but he's far away.
His jacket is red and his cheeks as the rose
And he sings of his Nell as to battle he goes.
And I would that the wars were all over
Oh I would that the wars were all done.

Ten thousands of bluebells now welcome the spring
Oh when will the church bells the victory ring
And the soldiers return and all England rejoice?
Oh then I'll be wed to the lad of my choice.
And I would that the wars were all over
Oh I would that the wars were all done.

(repeat first verse)

Eliza Carthy sings I Wish That the Wars Were All Over

In the meadow one morning when pearly with dew
A fair pretty maiden she plucked violets blue,
And I heard a clear voice making all the woods ring -
My love he's in Flanders to fight for the king.
How I wish that the wars were all over
I wish that the wars were all done.

I'll pluck the red robin so jaunty and gay.
Well I had my robin but he flew far away.
His little jacket was red and his cheeks as the rose
How he sings of his girl as to battle he goes.
How I wish that the wars were all over
I wish that the wars were all done.

Ten thousand of bluebells now welcome the spring
Oh when will the church bells of this victory ring
When do our soldiers return, when do we rejoice
And when do I wed to the love of my choice
How I wish that the wars were all over
I wish that the wars were all done.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: I Wish the Wars Were All Over.