Hay

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HAY. The Hay, or Hey, was a 16th century round dance, the name supposed by Dr. Johnson to have derived from rustics dancing in a ring around a hay-cock. Pulver (1923) desparages this thought, though admits there is no better explanation available. Flood (1906) typically claimed the dance form as originally Irish, thence imported to England. It is mentioned in a 1564 Morality play by the Englishman William Bulleyn in which a minstrel is described as dancing a "Heie (Hey) de Gie." In 1579 the dance, in notes to Spenser's "Shepherd Calender," was described as a country dance or round, which Flood (1906), taking a great leap, suggests was the origin of the English Round or Country Dance. In other literary works the dance is referenced in Martin's Month's Minde (1589--"Hayes, jigges, and rondelays"); in Sir John Davies Orchestra (1594); in Michael Drayton's Nymphidia ("There dancing hays by two and three, Just as their fancy casts them"); and by Shakespeare in Love's Labour's Lost (V,1), where he says, "...or I will play On the Tabor to the Worthies, and let them dance the hay." In the 16th century James Howell wrote:

Shall we go daunce the hay?
Never pipe could ever play
Better shepherd's rondelay.

The hay, or 'hey' as it is commonly called today, survives locally in England, particularly in the Cotswolds where it is a part of several morris dances; its use is particular to the interweaving of generally two lines of dancers, though sometimes for a morris jigg. In the former context the most famous melody and dance is the "<incipit title="load:hey" width=850 link="https://tunearch.org/wiki/Shepherd's Hey (1)">Shepherd's Hey (1)</incipit>."

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