Annotation:First of August (The)

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X:1 T:First of August, The M:2/2 L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances (1740, p. 61) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A2A2F2 GA|B2B2 A4|BcdB cdec|fgfe d4:| |:f2 gf e2 dc|dfed c2 BA|Bcde cdef|defg e4| A2A2F2 GA|B2B2 A4|Bcd2 cde2|fgfe d4:|]

FIRST OF AUGUST. AKA and see "Dydd cyntaf o Awst (Y)," "Glorious First of August," "Weaver's March (1) (The)," "Gallant Weaver (The)," "Twenty First of August," "Frisky Jenny," "Tenth of June (The)," "Come Jolly Bacchus," "Charles of Sweden," "Liffey Banks (The)." English, Welsh; Air. The researches of Frank Kidson[1] around the turn of the 20th century indicate that the tune was brought to England by a party of Swedish tumblers who were engaged at one of the London theaters, perhaps Lincoln's Inn Fields, about the end of the 17th century. It appeared in print as "The New Sweedish Dance and as "The Swedes' dance at the new playhouse." Subsequently, continues Kidson, the Jacobite used the tune for a song in honor of Charles XII of Sweden, while the Hanoverians tried to recapture it for their "First of August (The)" AKA "Glorious First of August." He also notes the tunes "Come Jolly Bacchus God of wine," "Frisky Jenny, or the Tenth of June" and "Constant Lover (The)" were probably the titles of songs set to the tune. The Scottish weaving fraternity took up the tune as well, playing it on state occasions as "Weaver's March (1) (The)," "Gallant Weaver (The)," and "Twenty First of August," the last title being the "weavers'" day.

The title "First of August" commemorates the accession of King George I, in 1714, reiterated Kidson in Groves, who noted again (in The Musical Times, Feb. 1, 1911, p. 94) that it:

...originally came into notice about the beginning of the 18th century by reason of a party of Swedish tumblers or dancers using it. It then appeared as "The New Sweedish Dance" and after a varied career took the title "The First of August" or "The Glorious First of August" from a song in praise of the Hanoverian succession[2].

Welsh collector and publisher Edward Jones is in error, remarks Kidson, when he associates the air "First of August" with the traditional date of the Britonnic Celtic festival of Lammas, one of the four great pagan festivals in the calendar year, or to the paying of Welsh tithes. Edward Jones (1810) writes:

Lammas Day, or the First of August, is supposed to be so called because formerly on that day our ancestors offered bread made of new wheat; and anciently those tenants that held lands of the Cathederal church of York, were by Tenure to bring a lamb alive into Church at high mass.”—Dyche’s Dictionary. It is still a custom in Wales for the parochial clergy to collect their tythes in Lambs on the first of August. See Deuteronomy, Chapt. XVI.

The tune is sometimes claimed as Welsh, continues Kidson, as it was printed in that country in 1802 with the suggestion of antiquity. However, as "Frisky Jenny" the same melody appears in London publisher Playford's Dancing Master of the mid-17th century and was long a favorite in England. The claim for Welsh provenance has no merit, according to Kidson (Groves), who believes that it is probably Swedish (see his article in The Musical Times, Sept. 1895, p. 593). Samuel Bayard (in his article "A Miscellany of Tune Notes," Studies in Folklore, p. 171) finds "The First of August" in Edward Jones's The Bardic Museum (London: 1802; the second volume of his Relicks), p. 104 (referred to by Kidson, above), and in W. Bigley's Sixty of the Most Admired, etc., p. 41. He concludes it is "nothing but the once popular English 'Come Jolly Bacchus', or 'Glorious First of August'". Daniel Wright (1740) gives "Come Jolly Bacchus" as an alternate title for "First of August." The name "First of August" is also given to a Scots country dance. The alternate title "Twenty First of August" is also the birthdate in 1765 of the British king William.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Jones (The Bardic Museum), 1802; p. 104. Wright (Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances), 1740; p. 61.

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  1. Frank Kidson, "The Vitality of Melody," Proceedings of the Musical Association, 34th Sess. (1907-1908), pp. 81-99.
  2. The 1st of August was the birthday of Princess Augusta, the daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and a date celebrated by the anti-Jacobite faction in England.