Willy of the Dale

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WILLY OF THE DALE. English, Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. “Willy of the Dale” is an English song composed in the late 18th century (attributed to “Mr. Hook” on an American song-sheet). The song "Willy of the Dale" was written by James Hook (1746-1827) The melody is somewhat irregular, having a total of 20 measures rather than the usual sixteen. It appears in various songsters and single-sheet publications in both Britain and America. This stanza begins the song in The Skylark, an English publication of 1797:

Willy of the Dale. 1783 Hand-coloured Mezzotint (British Museum)

When Spring, dispensing sweets around,
In gayest liv'ry deck'd the ground;
Just when the fragrant breath of morn
Had shook the dew-drops from the thorn;
To yonder mead my flock I led,
And gayly caroll'd as they fed.
Of all the swains who trip the green,
Or pipe in yonder vale,
None look so neat, or pipe so sweet,
As Willy of the Dale.

Source for notated version: the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner].

Printed sources: Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 72.

Recorded sources:

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