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Pleasant and Delightful
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Pleasant and Delightful / A Sailor and His True Love
; Master title: Pleasant and Delightful
; Laws O30
; TYG 51
; Ballad Index
; DT PLESDELT
; Mudcat 111698
Velvet Brightwall sang Pleasant and Delightful at The Eel’s Foot in a recording made by A.L. Lloyd in 1938/39. It was included in 2000 on the Veteran anthology of traditional singing and music from The Eel’s Foot, Good Order! Ladies and Gentlemen Please.
William Miller sang Happy and Delightful in a recording made at the Sutton Windmill by E.J. Moeran that was broadcast on the BBC Third Programme East Anglia Sings in late 1947. This programme was reissued in 2012 on the Snatch’d from Oblivion CD East Anglia Sings.
Arthur Smith sang The Sailor and His True Love on 10 October 1953 at The Ship Inn, Blaxhall. This recording was included in 2014 on the Topic anthology The Barley Mow (The Voice of the People Volume 26).
Harry Cox sang Charming and Delightful to Peter Kennedy in London in December 1953. This recording was included in 2000 on Cox’s Rounder anthology What Will Become of England?.
Sam Larner sang Pleasant and Delightful in a recording by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger made in 1958-60. This was published in 1961 on his Folkways Records album Now is the Time for Fishing (later released on CD on the Topic label).
George Townshend of Lewes, Sussex, sang Pleasant and Delightful in 1960 to Ken Stubbs and in ca. 1961 to Brian Matthews in ca. 1961. Both recordings were included in 2012 on his Musical Traditions anthology Come, Hand to Me the Glass. Brian Matthews and Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:
This song may be of quite recent origin, since almost half of the known examples are sound recordings, and there’s only one broadside printing. On the other hand, there’s an older and widely printed broadside Jimmy and his True Love, which might well be an earlier version—or it may just be a song with universal appeal and a good chorus that people still enjoy singing. Of the 40 or so instances in Roud, most are from the south west of England or East Anglia—though Gavin Greig collected a dozen examples in Scotland in the early years of last century. No other Sussex version has been collected.
Louis Killen sang Pleasant and Delightful in a midnight folk concert in London in May 1963 that was recorded by Decca for the LP Hootenanny in London. He recorded it again in 1968 for his 1973 LP Sea Chanteys and he and Sally Killen sang Pleasant and Delightful in 1975 on their LP Bright Shining Morning. Louis Killen noted:
When I was nine years of age my older brothers used to sing the first chorus of this song in three part harmony. Where they got it from I do not know, nor do they remember, but they would sing it “ad nauseam”, me too! It was another sixteen years before I found the rest of the words and tune, sung by Sam Larner of Winterton, Norfolk. Not long after I’d learned it, my friend Paul Carter, now of Bristol, presented me with this tune, to the same set of words, but much sweeter to harmonise.
In 2001, Louis Killen sang this song live at the 22nd Annual Sea Music Festival at Mystic Seaport. And this video shows him in 2008 at the 50th anniversary of The Bridge Folk Club, Newcastle, where he—along with Ray Fisher and Colin Ross—was awarded Gold Badges by the EFDSS for their contribution to Folk Music:
Charlie Bate of Padstow sang How Pleasant and Delightful in a concert presented by the EFDSS at the Royal Festival Hall, London on 4 June 1965, later published on the album Folksound of Britain.
Bob Davenport and the Rakes sang The Soldier and His True Love in 1965 on their eponymous Columbia album Bob Davenport and the Rakes.
Shirley Collins’ sang Pleasant and Delightful as part of her and her sister Dolly’s Song Story which was one half of both of their albums Anthems in Eden (1969) and Amaranth (1976).
Bob Scarce sang The Larks They Sang Melodious on 16 November 1973 at The Ship Inn in Blaxhall. This recording was published in the following year as the title track of the Transatlantic album of a “Sing-Song in a Suffolk Pub” The Larks They Sang Melodious.
Cyril Poacher sang this song as A Sailor and His True Love in a recording made in 1974 by Tony Engle and Keith Summers in the singer’s home, Grove Farm, Blaxhall, Suffolk. It was published in 1975 on his Topic LP The Broomfield Wager: Traditional Songs From Suffolk. and in 1998 on the Topic anthology My Ship Shall Sail the Ocean (The Voice of the People Volume 2). A later recording made by Ginette Dunn in 1975 was included in 2004 on his posthumous Musical Traditions CD Plenty of Thyme.
Geoff Ling from Blaxhall sang The Larks They Sang Melodious in a recording made by John Howson on the ca. 1987 Veteran Tape Songs Sung in Suffolk 2 (VT102) and in 2000 on the Veteran anthology CD Songs Sung in Suffolk.
Tommy Morrissey and Charlie Pitman of Padstow, Cornwall, sang Pleasant and Delightful on 21 February 1991 to John Howson. This recording was included on the Veteran Tapes cassette Pass Around the Grog (VT122) and in 2004 on the Veteran anthology CD Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All. John Howson commented:
The theme of the sailor returning from sea with a ring or other token to enable him to be recognised on his return is a popular one. This song dates back to the early part of the 17th century when it was issued as The Sailor and His True Love by Jennings of Water Lane, off Fleet Street, London. In the Hammond and Gardiner Manuscripts it appears under the same name and was collected from Mrs Barlett, Halstock, Leigh, Dorset in 1906. Although it has been a popular song in the West Country the song was also well known in East Anglia where it became an anthem in both the East Suffolk singing pubs, the Blaxhall Ship and the Eel’s Foot at Eastbridge.
Coope Boyes & Simpson sang Pleasant and Delightful in 1998 on their No Masters CD Hindsight. They noted:
We were once asked (we thought) to join in the chorus for this on a stage with 50 or so Celtic singers and musicians at a festival in Denmark. This was the culmination of an anarchic afternoon in which everyone joined in with everyone else’s performances. When it was time for the song, we were led to a single mic in the middle of the stage and in front of 3000 people the MC announced that Coope Boyes & Simpson would now lead everyone in Pleasant and Delightful. Having not sung it together before there was a sharp intake of breath but, with some very creative sign language we got through it with barely a slip. Having survived that, when it came to recording the album it just had to go on.
Dianne Dugaw sang The Larks They Sang Melodious on her 2001 album of fighting and sailing women in song, Dangerous Examples.
Tom and Barbara Brown sang Pleasant and Delightful on their 2002 WildGoose CD Prevailing Winds and on their 2007 WildGoose compilation West Country Night Out. They noted:
Known in different variants throughout England, this song is something of an anthem in the West Country—known also as William & Nancy’s Parting and The Hartland Anthem. Our version came from Charlie Bate of Padstow. It’s a version built for harmony and quite distinct from the more melodic versions from the Eastern counties of England.
Show of Hands sang Pleasant and Delightful live at the Great Hall, Exeter Universaty on 3 December 2009:
Jon Boden sang this song with the title The Larks They Sang Melodious as the midsummer’s day (24 June) 2010 entry to start his project A Folk Song a Day.
Hannah Sanders sang Pleasant and Delightful in 2015 on her CD Charms Against Sorrow.
Ken Wilson sang Pleasant and Delightful on his 2018 CD Portraits. He noted:
This is one of my all time favourite songs. No ‘pops or sqeaky bits’ here—thank you!
George Townshend sings Pleasant and Delightful
It was pleasant and delightful one midsummer’s morn,
When the fields and the valleys were covered in corn,
And the blackbirds and the thrushes sings on every green tree,
And the larks they sang melodious (3×) at the dawn of the day.
Said the sailor to his true love, “I am bound far away,
I am bound for the East Indies, I no longer here can stay.
I am bound for the East Indies, where our cannons roar.
I am going to leave my Nancy (3×), she’s the girl I adore.“
A ring from his finger he then instantly drew,
Saying, “Take this, dearest Nancy, and my heart shall go, too.”
And while he embraced her tears from her eyes fell,
Saying, “May I go along with you?” (3×) “Oh no, me love, farewell.”
Said the sailor to his true love, “I no longer here can stay,
For her topsails are hoisted and the anchor is weighed.
Our ships she lays waiting for the next flowing tide.
And if ever I return again (3×) I will make you my bride.”
Louis Killen sings Pleasant and Delightful
It was pleasant and delightful on a midsummer’s morn
And the green fields and the meadows were all covered in corn;
And the blackbirds and thrushes sang on every green spray
And the larks they sang melodious at the dawning of the day,
And the larks they sang melodious (3×) at the dawning of the day.
Now a sailor and his true love were a-walking one day.
Said the sailor to his true love, “I am bound far away.
I’m bound for the East Indies where the loud cannons roar
And I’m bound to leave you Nancy, you’re the girl that I adore,
And I’m bound to leave you Nancy (3×) you’re the girl that I adore.”
Then the ring from off her finger she instantly drew,
Saying, “Take this, dearest William, and my heart will go too.”
And as they were embracing tears from her eyes fell,
Saying, “May I go along with you?” “Oh no, my love, farewell,”
Saying, “May I go along with you?” (3×) “Oh no, my love, farewell,”
“Fare thee well my dearest Nancy, no longer can I stay,
For the topsails are hoisted and the anchors aweigh,
And the ship she lies waiting for the fast flowing tide,
And if ever I return again, I will make you my bride,
And if ever I return again (3×), I will make you my bride.”