Jack a Lent

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JACK A LENT. AKA and see "Lord of Carnavon's Jig (1)." English, Country Dance Tune (2/2 time); Scottish, Hornpipe. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Sharp): AABB (Barnes, Carlin, Fleming-Williams, Raven). Jack-a-Lent is a half-starved, sheepish booby, and also refers to a stuffed figure (similar to a scare-crow), representing Judas, thrown at during Lent. Shakespeare says: "You little Jack-a-lent, have you been true to us?" (Merry Wives of Windsor, iii. 3). The English convivial song "When Joneses/Joan's/Jone's ale was new," mentions a Jack-a-Lent in the first stanza:

There was a jovial tinker which was a good ale drinker,
He never was a shrinker believe me this is true,
And he came from the Weald of Kent when all he money was gone and spent,
Which made him look like a Jack-a-Lent, and Joan's Ale is new!

The melody was first published by John Playford in his collection The English Dancing Master (1651) and was retained in the long-running series of editions through the 7th edition of 1686.

Source for notated version: concertina player Alf Edwards (England) [Carlin].

Printed sources: Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 45, p. 26. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Carlin (English Concertina), 1977; p. 32. Fleming-Williams & Shaw (English Dance Airs; Popular Selection, Book 1), 1965; p. 8. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 33 & 43 (the latter is a facsimile copy of the Playford original). Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 65.

Recorded sources: RBRCD29, Leveret - "In the Round" (2016).




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