Parson among the Peas (The)

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PARSON AMONG THE PEAS, THE. AKA - "One long Whitsun holiday." English, Air and Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The risque song appears in Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 1 (editions of 1714 and 1719-20, p. 38), whose lyric was set to music by English composer Henry Purcell. Purcell seems to have found the rugged lines a challenge, as he confessed it cost him more trouble than the compostion of a Te Deum. The tune was also published by John Young in the Dancing Master [1] (1719, as "Whitsun-holidays"). It was also the vehicle for a song in the ballad opera of Love in a Riddle (1729).

D'Urfey's song begins:

One long Whitson Holliday,
Holliday, Holliday, 'twas a Jolly day;
Young Ralph, Buxom Phillida, Phillida, a welladay,
Met in the Peas;
They long hand community,
He lov'd her, she lov'd him,
Joyful Unity, nought but Opportunity,
scanting was wanting their bosoms to Ease;
But now Fortunes Cruelty, Cruelty,
You will see, for as they lye,
In close Hugg, Sir Domine Gemini, Gomini,
chanc'd to come by;
He read Prayers i' th' Family,
No way now to frame a Lie,
They scar'd at old Homily, Homily, Homily,
both away fly.

Purcell's tune was reworked by Italian cellist, viola da gambist, and composer Lorenzo Bocchi in a piece entitled "English Aire Improv'd after an Italian manner." It appears as part of his Sonata No. 12, "arranged with contrapuntal entries between the gamba and the bass and with rising and falling modulating sequences between the statements of the tune in the manner of a concerto" [Peter Holman].

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Watson (A Rollick of Recorders or Other Instruments), 1975; No. 2, pp. 2-3. Wilson (A Companion to the Ball Room), London, 1816; p. 107.

Recorded sources: Topic Records ‎12TS241, Bernard Wrigley ‎– "Rough & Wrigley" (1974).




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