> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > One Night As I Lay on My Bed
> Steeleye Span > Songs > One Night As I Lay on My Bed
> Louis Killen > Songs > One Night As I Lay on My Bed
> Tony Rose > Songs > One Night As I Lay on My Bed

One Night As I Lay on My Bed

[ Roud 672 ; Ballad Index VWL079 ; VWML HAM/5/32/1 ; trad.]

H.E.W. Hammond collected One Night As I Lay on My Bed in early 1907 from Mrs Marina Russell from Upwey, Dorset, and in 1906 from Mr George House from Baminster, Dorset. Ralph Vaughan Williams' and A.L. Lloyd's published this in 1959 in their The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, taking the tune and the first verse from Mrs Russell and the remaining verses from Mr House. In 1960, A.L. Lloyd recorded it unaccompanied for the album A Selection from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Like all tracks from this LP it was reissued in 2003 on the CD England & Her Traditional Songs. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

In folklore, songs may grow out of songs in mysterious fashion. This seems to be a straightforward night-visit piece, of the kind the Germans call Fensterlieder—“window songs”. But it exists in many variants which, put together, make a trail leading back to the situation in which an adulterous woman, pretending to sing her baby to sleep, actually converses with her lover through the door, warning him that her husband is at home (“the cuckoo's in his nest”). The poet Lorca has reported several North Spanish lullabies on this theme. Somewhere along the line, however, the irony was lost, the cuckold husband became mum and dad, and the song began new life as a romantic dialogue with a sweet ecstatic lift at the end. It was noted by H.E.D. Hammond from Mrs. Russell of Upwey, Dorset, in 1907.

Sam Larner sang As I Lay a-Musing to Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker in 1958-60 which seems to be a fragment of One Night As I Lay on My Bed. This recording was included in 2014 on his Musical Traditions anthology Cruising Round Yarmouth.

Ewan MacColl sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1966 on his Topic album The Manchester Angel. This track was also included in 1993 on his Topic anthology The Real MacColl. The sleeve notes commented:

H.E.D. Hammond collected this song at Upwey in Dorset in 1907. It is still fairly popular with Dorset and Hampshire gypsy singers. In Johnson's Scots Musical Museum there is a piece entitled As I Lay on My Bed on a Night and its three stanzas correspond with the first three in this Dorsetshire version. The notes in the museum suggest that there is a possible link with the Dowland's song, Go from My Window, Go, though a similar connection might be claimed for almost any night-visit song.

Steeleye Span recorded One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1970 for their first album, Hark! The Village Wait with Maddy Prior and Gay Woods singing; Maddy was singing lead. The record's sleeve notes:

Collected by H.E.D. Hammond from a Mr. House of Beauminster, Dorset, in 1906, this ballad can perhaps claim to have the most discreet ending of any folk song. Similar songs are quoted frequently in 16th and early 17th century literature, musical and otherwise; even Robert Burns re-wrote a version calling it As I Lay on My Bed on a Night. Ashley Hutchings: “This was one which I brought to the album. I first heard Ewan MacColl sing the song.”

Cyril Tawney sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1973 on his Argo album I Will Give My Love.

Shirley Collins sang this song with a few more verses on her 1974 album Adieu to Old England. This track was also included in all four of her anthologies: A Favourite Garland, Fountain of Snow, Within Sound, and The Classic Collection. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Ashley Hutchings recently turned up a version of this lovely song in the Janet Blunt mss. Shirley has used three verses as they were sung by a Mrs Nation of Baytree Cottage, Bathpool, Somerset, added to the version that is printed in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

June Tabor sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1983 on her Topic album Abyssinians.

Roy Harris sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1986 on the Fellside album A Selection from The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs The liner notes clarify the song's origin from two sources:

From Mrs. Russell, Upwey, Dorset, noted in 1907 by H.E.D. Hammond. This piece belongs to a sizeable family of night-visit songs. It is related to Go from My Window, Go, quoted in Beaumont & Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle (1613). Burns probably knew of two versions. There is a fragment from Sussex and a Somerset song, Arise You Drowsy Maiden is also related. From Stanza 2 onward, this text is from Mr. Howard of Beauminster, Dorset, called by Hammond in 1906.

Louis Killen recorded One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1989 for his cassette The Rose in June, stating in his liner notes:

This beautiful, tender, and winning night visiting song was collected by H.E.D. Hammond in 1907. I learned it from the singing of Cyril Tawney.

Tony Rose recorded One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 1999 for his CD Bare Bones.

Patterson Jordan Dipper sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 2002 on their WildGoose album Flat Earth.

Steve Tilston sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 2005 on his CD Of Many Hands. Nigel Schofield commented in the liner notes:

This song has always been popular among gypsy singers of England's southern downs. It dates back at least as far as the Elizabethan era, when John Dowland adapted it as Go from My Window.

It is a night-visiting song, which means it belongs to a curious genre of song which hovers between the supernatural and the erotic. The visitor, who has usually endured an unpleasant journey, is face with practical difficulties (Mom and Dad in this case) before being admitted and spending the night. Only the enforced departure at dawn reveals his or her ghostly nature. This variant of the genre avoids being either spooky or sexy and settles for the most discreetly understated ending of any folk song.

Jon Boden sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed as the June 27, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. giving Louis Killen as his source.

Mick Ryan sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed in 2013 on his and Paul Downes's WildGoose CD When Every Song Was New. He commented in his liner notes:

One Night As I Lay on My Bed is a night-visiting song which was collected from Mra Marina Russell, in Upwey, Dorset, according to The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Given the currency of this collection in the 60's and 70's, this will have been where the folk club floor singer who was my source would have learned the song.

Andy Turner sang One Night As I Lay on My Bed as the February 27, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week, referring to Steeleye Span, Shirley Collins and to the two versions collected by Hammond and published in the Penguin book.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings One Night As I Lay on My BedSteeleye Span sing One Night As I Lay on My Bed

One night as I lay on my bed,
I dreamed about a pretty maid.
I was so distressed,
I could take no rest;
Love did torment me so.
So away to my true love I did go.

One night as I lay on my bed,
I dreamed about a pretty maid.
I was so oppressed,
I could take no rest;
Love did torment me so.
So away to my true love I did go.

But when I came to my love's window,
I boldly called her by her name,
Saying, “It was for your sake
I'm come here so late,
Through this bitter frost and snow,
So it's open the window, my love, do.”

And when I came to my love's window,
I boldly called her by her name,
“For your sweet sake
I'm come here this late,
Through this bitter frost and snow,
So open your window, my love, do.”

“My mam and dad they are both awake,
And they will sure for to hear us speak.
There'll be no excuse
Then but sore abuse,
Many a bitter word and blow.
So begone from my window, my love, do.”

“My mam and dad they are both awake,
And they will sure for to hear us speak.
There'll be no excuse
Then but sore abuse,
Many a bitter word and blow.
So begone from my window, my love, do.”

“Your mam and dad they are both asleep,
They're sure not to hear us speak,
For they're sleeping sound
On their bed of down,
And they draw they breath so low.
So open the window, my love, do.”

“Your mam and dad they are both asleep,
And they are sure not to hear us speak,
They're sleeping sound
On their bed of down,
And they draw they breath so low.
So open the window, my love, do.”

My lover rose and she opened the door,
And just like an angel she stood on the floor.
Her eyes shone bright
Like the stars at night,
And no diamonds could shine so.
So in with my true love I did go.

My lover rose and she opened the door,
And just like an angel she stood on the floor.
Her eyes shone bright
Like the stars at night,
No diamonds could shine so.
So in with my true love I did go.

Shirley Collins sings One Night As I Lay on My Bed Tony Rose sings One Night As I Lay on My Bed

One night as I lay on my bed,
I dreamed about a pretty maid.
I was so distressed,
I could take no rest;
Love did torment me so.
So away to my true love I did go.

One night as I lay on my bed,
Oh, I dreamed about a pretty maid.
I was so distressed,
I could take no rest;
Love did torment me so.
So away to my true love I did go.

But when I came to my love's window,
I boldly called her by her name,
Saying, “It's for your sake
I'm come here so late
Through this bitter frost and snow.
So it's open the window, my love, do.”

And it's when I came to my love's window,
So boldly then I called her name,
Saying, “It was for your sake
I'm come here so late
Through this bitter frost and snow.
So open your window, my love, do.”

“My mam and dad are both awake
And they are sure for to hear us speak.
There'll be no excuse
Then but sore abuse,
Many bitter words and blows.
So begone from my window, my love, do.”

“My mam and dad, they are both awake
And they are sure for to hear us speak.
There'll be no excuse
Then but sore abuse,
Many's the bitter word and blow.
So begone from my window, my love, do.”

“Your mam and dad are both asleep
And they are sure not to hear us speak,
For they're lying sound
On their bed of down,
And they draw they breath so low.
So open the window, my love, do.”

“Oh, your mam and dad they are both asleep,
So they are sure not to hear us speak,
They are sleeping sound
On their bed of down
And they draw they breath so low.
So open the window, my love, do.”

My lover rose and she opened the door,
Just like an angel standing before
With her eyes shine bright
And the stars gave light,
No diamond dream shone so.
So it's in with my true love I did go.

My lover rose and she opened the door
And just like an angel she's stood there on the floor.
Oh, her eyes shone bright
Like the stars at night,
No diamonds could shine so.
So it's in with my true love I did go.

To the green bed I and my love did go.
What we did there
I'll not declare;
No mortal man shall know
Not so long as I this breath can draw.

But as my love was coming down the stair,
My father he chanced for to hear.
Saying, “Who is there
That makes such ado,
Who choose a-rattling so?”
And it's, “Hark, father, how the winds do blow.”

Sam Larner sings As I Lay a-Musing

As I laid a-musing on my bed one night
I dreamed of my own heart’s delight.
I was so perplexed, I could take no rest,
For love it did go so,
And away to my true love I did go.

I went to my love’s window by frame
And so loudly did I call her by name.
Polly arose, to the window goes,
Unto him she whispered low:
“Hark how the stormy winds do blow.”

(spoken) She said that so her father thought she was looking out of the window, but she was not. That’s a good song if I knew it …