Penitent Nun (The)

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PENITENT NUN, THE. English, Country Dance (cut time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune appears in a few of the publications of London publisher John Walsh, including Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances (1740, p. 40) and The Compleat Country Dancing Master vol. 3 (1735, p. 213). "The Penitent Nun" was an erotic song [Roud 12536] by John Lockman (1698–1771), printed in John Watts' Musical Miscellany (c. 1731, pp. 184-185) to a setting by Nicola Francesco Haym (a different tune than the country dances)

Dame Jane a sprightly Nun, and gay,
And formed of very yielding Clay,
Had long with resolution strove
To guard against the Shafts of Love.
Fond Cupid smiling, spies the Fair,
And soon he baffles all her Care,
In vain she tries her Pain to smother,
The Nymph too frail, the Nymph too frail,
Becomes a Mother.

But no, these little Follies o’er,
She firmly vows she’ll sin no more;
No more to Vice will fall a Prey,
But spend in Prayer each fleeting Day.
Close in her Cell immur’d she lies,
Nor from the Cross removes her Eyes;
Whilst Sisters crowding at the Crate,
Spend all their Time, spend all their Time in
Worldly Prate.

The Abbess, overjoyed to find
This happy Change in Jenny’s Mind,
The rest, with Air composed, addressing,
“Daughters, if you expect a Blessing,
From pious Jane, Example take,
The World and all its Joys forsake.”
“We will” (they all reply’d as One)
“But first let’s do as Jane has done.”

The directions for Daniel Wright's longways dance ("for as many as will") printed by Johnson begin with the 1st man and 2nd woman taking their handkerchiefs to their eyes, as if crying.

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