#02322
Old England (Phyllis Morrissey) video
#276: YouTube video by kelticknots
©2008 ~ Used with permission ~

Come, brother tradesmen, who travel alone,
O, pray come and tell me
where the trade is all gone,
Long time have I traveled and I cannot find none.
And sing O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

You will see the poor tradesmen a-walking the street
From morning till night for employment to seek,
And scarce have they got any shoes on their feet.
And sing O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

Our soldiers and sailors have just come from war,
Been fighting for Queen and for country this year,
Come home to be starved,
better stayed where they were.
And sing O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

And now to conclude and to finish my song,
Let us hope that these hard times
they will not last long,
I hope soon to have occasion to alter my song:
And sing O, the good times of old England,
In old England jolly good times.
And sing O, the good times of old England,
In old England jolly good times.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Tradesman's Complaint, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1802 and 1819, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 17(321a). ....####

The variant in the video above features a live performance at Erin's Pub in St John's, NL, by Phyllis Morrissey with Dermot O'Reilly, Chris Hennessy, and Kelly Russell on the video Rigs, Jigs, And Songs From The Heart - A Musical Journey From Port Aux Basques To St John's produced in 1988 by Dermot O'Reilly [1942-2007], Piper Stock Productions and CBC Television with assistance from Telefilm Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

See more songs by Ryan's Fancy.

A variant sung acapella by Ron Coppers with two additional verses was recorded in 1955 as Hard Times Of Old England and published in 2001 on Early Recordings Of The Copper Family Of Rottingdean - Come Write Me Down:

Provisions you buy at the shop it is true,
But if you've no money there's none there for you.
So what's a poor man and his family to do?
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

If you go to a shop and you ask for a job
They will answer you there with a shake and a nod.
That's enough to make a poor man
to turn out and rob,
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.


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