British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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256                                         may day.                                 [May I.
To die in sin is a serious thing,
To go where sinners mourn; 'Twould have been better for our poor souls
If we had ne'er been born.
Now we've been travelling all the night, *And best part of this day; And now we're returning back again, And have brought you a branch of May,
A branch of May, which looks so gay.
Before your door to stand; 'Tis but a sprout, but 'tis well spread out,
The work of our Lord's hand.
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid,
Out of your drowsy dream, And step into your dairy-house
For a sup of your sweet cream.
O, for a sup of your sweet cream,
Or a jug of your own beer; And if we tarry in the town,
We'll call another year.
Now take the Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through, And when the day of judgment comes,
The Lord will think of you.
Repent, repent, ye wicked men,
Repent before you die; There's no repentance in the grave,
When in the ground you lie.
But now my song is almost done,
Fve got no more to say ; God bless you all, both great and small,
I wish you a joyful May."
The garland is afterwards suspended by ropes from the school-house to an opposite tree, and the mayers and other children amuse themselves by throwing balls over it. With the money collected tea and cakes are provided for the joyous party. The Queen of the May takes her seat at the head of the tea-table, under a bower composed of branches of may and blackthorn; a wreath of flowers is placed on her head, and she is hailed " Lady of the May" The atten­dants wait round her, the party of mayers seat themselves at a long table below, and the evening concludes with mirth and merriment.—Glossary, <£&, p. 424,
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