Jolly Beggar (3) (The)

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JOLLY BEGGAR [3], THE. AKA and see "Beggar's Meal Pock's." Scottish, Air and Strathspey. G Major (Kerr): F Major (Manson). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Manson): AA'BB' (Kerr). The song "Jolly Beggar" (Child #279) has traditionally been attributed to King James V of Scotland, although this has never been substantiated. John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900) thought the claim was rubbish as it had the ring of a 'modern' composition, and he dated it only to about 1750. The words were printed by David Herd in his Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, vol. II (1776, pp. 26-28). begin:

There was a jolly beggar, and a begging he was bound,
And he took up his quarters into a land'art town,
And we'll gang nae mair a roving sae late into the night,
And we'll gang nae mair a roving, boys, let the moon shine ne'er sae bright,
And we'll gang nae mair a roving.

James Oswald printed the simple two strains of tune in his Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 9 (1760, p. 16) under the title "Beggar's Meal Pock's/Poke's," without variation sets.

The song was soon adapted for much more earthy tastes, and appears in a modified version as "The Jolly Gauger" in Robert Burns's Merry Muses of Caledonia, his collection of bawdy songs that discretely appeared in 1800, after the poet's death. Burns may have added to or reworked some of the verses he collected:

There was a jolly gauger, a-gaugin' he did ride,
And he has met a beggar doon by yon river side,
An' we'll gang nae mair a-rovin' wi' ladies tae the wine,
When a beggar wi' her meal-pyocks can fidge her tail sae fine,
An' we'll gang nae mair a-rovin'.

Amang the broom he laid her, amang the broom sae green,
And he's fa'n tae the baggar, as she had been a queen,
An' we'll gang etc.

My blessings on thee, laddie, thou's done my turn sae weel,
Wilt thou accept, dear laddie, my pyock and pickle meal?
An' we'll gang etc.

Sae blythe the beggar took the bent, like ony bird in Spring,
Sae blythe the beggar took the bent, and merrily did sing,
An' we'll gang etc.

My blessings on the gauger, O' the gaugers he's the chief,
Sic kail ne'er crost my kettle, nor sic a joint o' beef,
An' we'll gang etc.

A modern version of the original song goes by the name "A-begging we will go."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 3), 1790; No. 266, pp. 274-275. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 4), c. 1880's; No. 107, p. 14. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book vol. 2), 1846; p. 3.

Recorded sources:




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