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The Painful Plough / The Faithful Plough

[ Roud 355 ; Ballad Index Ord222 ; Bodleian Roud 355 ; Wiltshire Roud 355 ; trad.]

The Broadside from Grimsby sang The Gardener and the Ploughman in 1973 on their Topic album of songs and ballads collected in Lincolnshire, The Moon Shone Bright. Patrick O'Shaugnessy commented in the sleeve notes:

From George Leaning of Barton-on-Humber, 1906. More usually known as The Painful (or Faithful) Plough. One of a class of songs proclaiming the value of the farm worker. The tune is a relative of Benjamin Britten's Suffolk pub tune to The Foggy Dew.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand learned The Painful Plough from William Barrett's English Folk Songs. They sang it in 1992 on their CD A Present from the Gentlemen.

Louis Killen leaered The Painful Plough, “another paean of pride in one's work”, from Brian Ballinger and sang it on his 1993 CD A Bonny Bunch.

Bob Lewis sang The Painful Plough as the title track of his 2003 CD The Painful Plough. Vic Smith commented in the liner notes:

Fairly common on broadsides, this song has also been collected extensively in Scotland and England, particularly in the West Country. In the south-east a Mr Grantham of Holmwood in Sussex sang it to Lucy Broadwood and Job Francis of Shipley in Sussex sang it to Cecil Sharp.

Magpie Lane's The Painful Plough is based on the singing of Thomas Mitchell at Merriott, Somerset, in 1903. They sang it in 1994 on their Beautiful Jo album Speed the Plough.

Chris Foster sang The Faithful Plough in 2017 in his CD Hadelin. He commented in his liner notes:

In the 1970s I lived in Leiston, Suffolk, where I got to know several singers, with repertoires that they had learned from the older generations in their local communities. Jumbo Brightwell (1900-1979) became a friend and gave me a number of songs, usually written out on recycled greeting cards. I never heard him sing this one, though. I got the tune from a recording from Jumbo's father, Velvet Brightwell (1865-1960) that was made in 1953 by Peter Kennedy.

Lyrics

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing The Painful Plough

Come all you jolly ploughmen of courage stout and bold
Who labour all the winter in stormy winds and cold
To clothe your fields with plenty, your barnyards to renew
To crown them with contentment, behold the painful plough.

For Adam was a ploughman when ploughing first begun
The next that did succeed him was Cain his eldest son.
Some of the generation the calling do pursue,
That bread may not be wanting, remains the painful plough.

And Samson was a mighty man, and Solomon he was wise,
Alexander for to conquer was all his daily prize,
King David he was valious, and many thousands slew
But none of these brave heroes could live without the plough.

Behold the wealthy merchant, that trades in foreign seas
And brings both gold and treasure to those that live at ease
With finest silks and spices, and fruits and dainties too
They are brought from the Indies by virtue of the plough.

For they must have bread and biscuit, rice pudding, flour and peas
To feed the jolly sailor that sails upon the seas
Yet every man that brings them here must own to what is true:
He cannot sail the ocean without the painful plough.

Chris Foster sings The Faithful Plough

Come all you jolly ploughmen of courage stout and bold,
Who labour all the winter, through the stormy winds and cold.
For to crown your fields with plenty and your farmyards to renew.
That bread may not be wanted, we must use the faithful plough.

Adam in the garden, he was sent to keep it right.
The length of time he stayed there, they say it was one night.
He was conquered by a woman and that you all do know
And so soon he lost the garden and he went to hold the plough,

So Adam was a ploughman when ploughing first begun
And the next that did succeed him was Cain his eldest son.
Some of this generation the calling now pursue,
For we are all dependent upon the faithful plough.

Samson was a strong man and Solomon was wise.
Alexander for to conquer he was all that we do prize.
King David was a valiant man and many a thousand slew,
But none of these brave heroes could live without the plough.

Says the ploughman to the gardener, “Count not your trade as ours,
But walk your curious borders and gaze upon your flowers.
If it was not for the ploughman both rich and poor would rue,
For they are all dependent upon the faithful plough.”

Behold the wealthy merchant who trades in foreign seas
To bring forth gold and treasure for those that lives at ease,
With finest silks and spices and fruits and dainties too,
They are all brought from the Indies by virtue of the plough.

I hope that those who hear this will count in what is true
That we cannot sail the oceanwide without the faithful plough.
For they must have beer and biscuits, plum puddings, flour and peas
For to feed the the jolly sailors who plough the raging seas.

Well I hope there’s none offended now with me for singing this,
For it never was intended to be anything amiss,
But if you consider it rightly you will find that it is true
That all the trades I’ve mentioned depend upon the plough.

So come all you jolly ploughmen of courage stout and bold,
Who labour all the winter, through the stormy winds and cold,
For to crown your fields with plenty and your farmyards to renew.
That bread may not be wanted, we must use the faithful plough.