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Hunting the Hare

[ Roud 1181 ; Ballad Index BeCo437 ; VWML CJS2/10/774 ; Bodleian Roud 1181 ; Welsh trad., English words A.P. Graves]

Geoff and Pennie Harris sang Hare Hunting in 1975 on the Trailer album of the season, Maypoles to Mistletoe. The tune is the traditional Welsh Hela'r Ysgyfarnog and the English words are from A.P. Graves' The Celtic Song Book (1928). The dogs' role-call reminds me a bit of Dido Bendigo.

Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts sang Hunting the Hare in 1995 on their eponymous album, Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts. This video shows them at the Albert Hole, Bristol, on June 10, 1994:

Jon Boden sang Hunting the Hare as the October 10, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

I absolutely loved the Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts album. I got it in my second year at uni and drove my housemates mad with it. Strangely I never learnt anything from it (although I was already singing Suzanne Vega’s Soldier & the Queen—should I record that for this thinking about it…?), but finally got round to learning this a few months ago.

Barry Lister sang a completely different Hunting the Hare with The Claque (he, Dave Lowry, Sean O'Shea, and Tom Addison) in 2006 on his CD Ghosts & Greasepaint. He noted:

Dave Lowry extracted this many years ago in the 1970s from the Baring-Gould manuscripts [A Book of Nursery Songs and Rhymes]. It was collected in the 1890s from Mr Nankivel (known as Old Capul) at Merrivale Bridge. Baring-Gould's assistant, Mr Bussell, thought that the tune was a 17th Century dance tune.

Tom and Barbara Brown sang The Hunting the Hare in 2014 on their WildGoose CD of songs collected by Cecil Sharp from Captains Lewis and Vickery by in Minehead, Somerset, Just Another Day. They noted:

There are a few versions of this classic hare-hunting song; Martin and Shan Graebe recorded one collected by Sabine Baring-Gould on their Dusty Diamonds CD, and we’ve even seen it in print as Somersetshire Hunting Song. This is Vickery’s version [VWML CJS2/10/774] —with more hunting-song clichés than you could throw a drag at. Tom sees no purpose in hare hunting—but then he is bald!

Lyrics

Hunting the Hare (Hela'r Ysgyfarnog) Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts sing
Hunting the Hare

O the yelping of hounds, the skelping,
Along the cover and out at the back!
O the galloping, O the walloping!
O the rush of the "gone away" Jack!
Off like a feather he floats on the heather—
Blackberry calling the tune in his track,
Spot and Spider, and Beauty beside her,
The Red Rake and the rest of the pack.

Well, all the yelping of hounds, the skelping,
Along the cover and out at the back!
O the galloping, O the walloping!
O the cry of the “gone away” Jack!
Off like a feather, he floats o'er the heather—
And Blackberry calls him a tune in his track.
There's Spot and Spider and Beauty beside her,
Then Red Rake and the rest of the pack.

Now they've lost him and now they're finding him,
Now he's winding 'em round by the stack!
Hark! the horn! to the height we follow 'em,
Cheer and holloa 'em for'ard or back.
Ne'er such a frisker at fate cocked a whisker,
Or bustled us brisker, than yonder old Jack.
One more double across the stubble,
And he's in trouble and tossed by the pack.

Well, now they're losing him, now they're finding him,
Now they're winding him round by the stack!
Hark! the horn! to the heights we follow 'em,
And whoop and holler and for'ard and back.
Sure there's none brisker who faint cocked a whisker
Nor bustles more brisker than yonder old Jack.
One more double across the stubble,
And he's in trouble and tossed by the pack.

Bay and grey are away to the stable,
And jovial hunters the table attack;
Meat we're munching and oats they're crunching,
And pails they empty and bottles they crack.
Here's to the Master! no fairer or faster
To steady the heady or screw up the slack!
Here's to the Hunt! and our glasses a-jingle
With joy commingle—and here's to the Pack!

Then Brayer and Stayer are away to the stable,
With jovial huntsmen the table attack;
It's meat we're munching and oats they're crunching,
As pails are emptied and bottles are cracked.
Here's to the Master! None fairer, none faster,
To steady the ready and screw up the slack!
Here's to the Hunt! With your glasses a-jingle,
With joy commingle—and here's to the Pack!

The Claque sing Hunting the Hare

I hunted my Merry all into the hay,
The Hare was afore and the hounds were away!

Chorus (after each verse):
With my Hickerly Tout, ticklesome Trout,
Hipperly, tipperly, eversheen, nipperly,
Up the middle, vandigo-van.
And it's up the hill, down the form,
Here a step, there a turn,
Turn and sing merrily,
Hunt hounds, away!

I hunted my Merry all into the barley,
There the poor puss was pursued by old Snarley.

I hunted my Merry all into the wheat,
There the sly puss did attempt us to cheat.

I hunted my Merry all into the oats
There I cut off both his paw and his scutt.

I hunted my Merry all into the rye,
There the poor puss was constrained to die.

Tom and Barbara Brown sing Hunting of the Hare

What joys can compare with the hunting of the hare
In the morning, boys, in the morning, boys,
In the sweet and the pleasant weather?

Chorus (after each verse):
When the bugle horn does sound,
We’ve got sport all on the ground,
Ran-tan-tero, huzzah, ran-tan-tero, huzzah,
Ran-tan-tero, my boys, we’ll follow.

And when poor puss arise then away from us she flies,
And we’ll give her, boys, and we’ll give her, boys,
One thundering and loud holler.

And when poor puss is killed, we’ll retire from the field,
And we’ll count, boys, and we’ll count, boys,
On the same good run tomorrow.

So what joys can compare with the hunting of the hare
In the morning, boys, in the morning, boys,
In the sweet and the pleasant weather?

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Hunting the Hare.