First of August (The)

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FIRST OF AUGUST. AKA and see "Dydd cyntaf o Awst (Y)," "Glorious First of August," "Weaver's March (The)," "Gallant Weaver (The)," "Twenty-First of August," "Frisky Jenny," "Tenth of June (The)," "Come Jolly Bacchus," "Charles of Sweden," "Liffey Banks (The)." English, Air. The title commemorates the accession of King George I, in 1714, according to Frank Kidson (Groves), who noted (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.

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.

Source for notated version:

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

Recorded sources:

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