> Folk Music > Songs > Blow the Candle Out
Blow the Candle Out / Apprenticed in London
; Master title: Blow the Candle Out
; Laws P17
; G/D 4:788
; Ballad Index
; DT CANDLOUT
; Mudcat 50215
Edgar Button sang Blow the Candle Out in a recording made by Peter Kennedy for the BBC on 16 July 1956 at The Eel’s Foot, Thebberton, near Leiston, Suffolk. It was included in 1960 on the EMI/HMV EP The Barley Mow: Songs From the Village Inn.
Jimmy Gilhaney of Belfast sang Blow the Candle Out in another recording made by Peter Kennedy; this time in the Orkney Isles. In was published on the anthology Songs of Seduction (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 2; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968). The booklet commented:
Unbowdlerized printing of this, one of the finest love songs in the English language, is seldom seen, yet collectors have encountered it frequently, for it is widely known in Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, in America. The story tells of a young apprentice, or recruit, bundling with his sweetheart for the last time before an extended absence.
Frank Purslow and John Pearse sang Blow the Candle Out in 1961 on their album Rap-a-Tap-Tap: English Folk Songs Miss Pringle Never Taught Us.
Jumbo Brightwell sang Blow the Candle Out at home in Leiston, Suffolk, in Spring 1975. This recording by Tony Engle and Keith Summers was published in the same year on his Topic album Songs From the Eel’s Foot: Traditional Songs and Ballads From Suffolk and in in 1998 on the Topic anthology Who’s That at My Bed Window? (The Voice of the People Series Volume 10). Another recording made by Keith Summers in Leiston in 1977 was included in 2007 on the Musical Tradition anthology A Story to Tell: Keith Summers in Suffolk 1972-79. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:
Blow the Candle Out, or The London Apprentice as it is sometimes called, has turned up all over these islands (Greig/Duncan 788—six versions), probably due to its wide broadside popularity; these make up half of Roud’s 75 entries. Only six other English singers appear in the Index. Jumbo learned it from Crutter Cook at The Eel’s Foot.
Brian Osborne sang Blow the Candle Out on his 1976 Traditional Sound album Ae Fond Kiss. He noted:
Versions of this English love song have been traced back to the 17th century. This is one with a more military flavour and has been collated with the better portions of a text published by D’Urfey in Pills to Purge Melancholy.
The New Scorpion Band sang Blow the Candle Out in 1999 on their first CD, Folk Songs and Tunes From the British Isles. They noted:
In the eighteenth century London was surrounded by open countryside, and there was a brisk two-way traffic of folk songs coming in to the city and new ballads from the theatre being taken on broadsheets into the country. Over the next hundred years this classic lovesong spread from the town to the surrounding countryside. It was collected all over the South of England in the early 1900’s, and is also known as the London Apprentice.
Mary Humphreys and Anahata sang Blow the Candles Out in 2004 on their WildGoose album Floating Verses. Mary Humphreys noted:
We are joined by Chris Amos on Martin guitar for this song. I learnt it for Harry and Lesley Boardman’s series of programmes—Ballads of Britain—recorded on BBC Radio Manchester in 1987. Chris’ guitar gives the song the same hypnotic air that Wilf Darlington’s fiddle did all those years ago.
The background to the song is rooted in the old practice of serving an unpaid apprenticeship of three years to a master and during that time being unable to support a wife. Once the three years were up the apprentice would become a journeyman and able to earn a living at the trade to which he had become apprenticed, and presumably able to support a wife and children.
Andy Turner learned Blow the Candle Out from Jimmy Gilhaney’s version and sang it as the 8 October 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.
Dallahan sang Blow the Candle Out in 2016 on their CD Matter of Time.
The Furrow Collective sang Apprenticed in London in 2023 on their Hudson album We Know by the Moon. Alasdair Roberts noted:
This song was learnt from a live recording, made in Haarlem in 1977, of the American banjo player and singer Derroll Adams. While the song’s first occurrence in print was in Thomas D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy, published between 1698 and 1720, it’s unclear from where Derroll learnt his version of the song, which seems to be fragmentary. Derroll describes it as an old English song; variants are sometimes found under the title Blow the Candles Out.
Jimmy Gilhaney sings Blow the Candle Out
There was a young apprentice who went to meet his dear.
The moon was shinin’ brightly and the stars were viewin’ clear.
He went to his love’s window and he called her by her name,
Then soon the rose and let him in, went back to bed again.
Sayin’, “Willie, dearest Willie, tonight will be your doom.
Strip off into your nightshirt and bear one night within.
The streets they are too lonely for you to walk about,
So come roll me in your arms, love, and blow the candle out.
“My father and my mother, next bedroom they do lie,
Kissing and embracing, and why not you and I?
Kissing and embracing without a fear or doubt,
So come roll me in your arms, love, and blow the candle out.“
It was six months and after six, six months ago today,
He wrote to me a letter saying he was far away;
He wrote to me a letter without a feat or doubt
And he never said when he’d come back to blow the candle out.
Jumbo Brightwell sings Blow the Candle Out
Now its of a young apprentice who went to court his dear.
The moon was shining brightly and the stars were twinkling clear.
He went to his love’s window to ease her of her pain,
And she quickly rose and let him in and went to bed again.
“My father and mother in yonder room do lie.
They are embracing one each other and so may you and I?
They are embracing one each other Without a fear or doubt
So it’s take me in your arms, my love, and we’ll blow the candle out.”
“Oh my father would be angry if he should come to know.
My mother would be delighted to prove my overthrow.
So I would not for five guineas lest they should find me out.
So its take me in your arms, my love, and we’ll blow the candle out.”
’Twas early next morning before the break of day,
He quickly rose and put on his clothes and said he was going away.
She was so loathe to part with him but dare not speak it out,
“So its take me in your arms, my love, and we’ll blow the candle out.”
When six months were over six months it’s and a day.
He wrote his love a letter that he was going away.
He wrote his love a letter without a fear or doubt
Saying he never would return again to blow the candle out.
So come all you pretty young Leiston girls a warning take by me.
Never trust a ’prentice boy one inch above your knee.
For when they’re in their ’prenticeship they swear their time is out.
And he’ll leave you as mine left me to blow the candle out.
The Furrow Collective sing Apprenticed in London
When I was apprenticed in London I used to see my dear,
Stars were always shining, the moon shone bright and clear.
I rapped upon the window to ease her of her pain,
She rose to let me in, and she barred the door again.
“Oh my father and my mother in yonder room do lie,
A-hugging one another, so why not you and I?
A-hugging one another without a fear or doubt
So roll me in your arms, love, and blow the candles out.”
“Now if your prove successful, love, just name it after me,
Kiss it sweet and dress it neat and daft it on your knee.
And when my days are over and I cannot go about,
Why roll me in your arms, love, and blow the candles out,
Roll me in your arms, love, and blow the candles out.”