> The Watersons > Songs > The Morning Looks Charming

The Morning Looks Charming / Hare Hunting Song

[ Roud 580 ; Ballad Index WT059 ; VWML FK/2/92 ; Wiltshire Roud 580 ; trad.]

A Hunting Song was written by Charles Legh (1697-1781) of Adlington Hall, near Macclesfield, Cheshire. The music is by Mr Ridley, then organist at Prestbury. It was published in the Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 17, January 1747.

Frank Kidson collected the Hare Hunting Song from a Mr Cropper at the Westmorland Musical Festival on April 10, 1902, which Roy Palmer printed in the English Country Songbook in 1979.

The Watersons sang it as The Morning Looks Charming in 1966 on their LP A Yorkshire Garland. It was finally reissued on CD in 2004 on the Watersons' 4 CD anthology Mighty River of Song. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

This song came to Frank Kidson from the Howden district of Yorkshire. It does not seem to have spread far from its native home. Like nearly all our hunting songs, its words sound as if they were made by an educated amateur writer, rather than a folk poet. Following their sound instinct, the Watersons have re-phrased one or two of the more literary lines. The tune is related to the melody of the sea song Roll, Bullies, Roll (sometimes, in error, sung as “Row, Bullies, Row”).

[I don't understand his last comment. In any other source I know of, the name of this shanty is Row, Bullies, Row; even one of Lloyd's own albums is called Row Bullies Row.]

Andy Turner sang the Hare Hunting Song on his 1990 cassette Love, Death and the Cossack, accompanied by Chris Wood on guitar and harmony vocals. Another version from a ca. 1995 demo tape made with Chris Wood was included as the October 12, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in his liner notes:

I have an ambivalent attitude towards hunting songs, but was won over to the Westmorland Hare Hunting Song by its gloriously pompous words. Brave boys only need apply!

Danny Spooner sang The Morning Looks Charming in 2011 on his CD The Fox, The Hare and the Poacher's Fate.

Lyrics

Hare Hunting Song The Watersons sing The Morning Looks Charming

The morning looks charming, all nature looks gay,
Then away my brave boys, to your horses away,
For that pride of all pleasures, in questing the hare,
You have not so much as a moment to spare.

The morning looks charming, all nature is gay,
Come away, my brave boys, to your horses away;
For the first of all pleasures is hunting the hare
You haven't as much as a moment to spare.

Chorus (after each verse):
So hark to the hounds, the morn is fair,
Come, brave boys, a-hunting the hare

Hark the lively tuned horn, how melodious it sounds
To the musical notes of the merry-mouthed hounds;
In yon stubble field you will find her below,
“See now,” cries the huntsman, “Hark to him, see now.”

The lively tuned horn, how melodious it sounds
To the musical notes of the merry-mouthed hounds;
Over yon stubble field you will find her below,
“See now,” cries the huntsman, “Hark to him, we'll go.”

See, see where she goes, and the hounds are in full view,
Such harmony Handel himself never knew—
Over hedges and ditches, to us are no bounds,
For the world is our own while whe follow the hounds.

See now where she goes with the hounds in full view
And a heavy and weary the nearer we drew;
Over hedges and ditches to us are no bounds
For the world is our own while we follow the hounds.

Over highlands and lowlands, thro' woodlands we fly,
Our horses at full speed and our hounds at full cry,
So matched in their speed and so equal they run,
Like the turn of a spear or the rays of the sun.

When the old hounds press forward, 't is a very sure sign
That the hare tho' a stout one begins to decline,
For a chase of two hours and more she has lead,
“She is down,”—“look about you,”—“they have her,”—ware dead.

Then how glorious a death, to be honoured with sounds
Of a horn and a shout, and the chorus of hounds.
Here's a health to all hunters and long be their lives,
May they never be crossed by their sweethearts of wives.

How glorious a death, to be honoured with sounds
Of a horn and a shout and the chorus of hounds;
Here's a health to all hunters and long be their lives
And may they be blessed in their sweethearts and wives.

Acknowledgements and Links

Transcribed from the singing of the Watersons by Garry Gillard, with thanks to Bob Hudson, and many more to Steve Willis. And thanks also to Danny Spooner for teaching Garry the song in 1983 at the Mill Theatre, Geelong, Victoria (Australia).

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: The Morning is Charming / Hunting Song.