The Nightingale
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John Renfro Davis


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This is an American variant of an English song. It appears in Sharp & Karpeles Eighty Appalachian Folk Songs. There is a different song named The Nightingale which begins, "My love he was a rich farmer's son."

These words are similar to several verses of a broadside in the Bodleian Library which was printed in 1675 by W. Olney of London. It is titled The nightingale's song: or The soldier's rare musick, and maid's recreation and it is noted as being sung to the tune No, no, not I.

One morning, one morning, one morning in May
I spied a young couple all on the highway
And one was a lady so bright and so fair
And the other was a soldier, a brave volunteer

Good morning, good morning, good morning to thee,
Now where are you going my pretty lady?
I'm going to travel to the banks of the sea
To see the waters gliding, hear the nightingales sing.

They hadn't been there but an hour or two
Till out of his knapsack a fiddle he drew
The tune that he played caused the vallies to ring.
O harken, says the lady, how the nightingales sing.

Pretty lady, pretty lady, 'tis time to give o're.
O no, pretty soldier, please play one tune more.
I'd rather hear your fiddle at the touch of one string
Than to see the waters gliding, hear the nightingales sing.

Pretty soldier, pretty soldier, will you marry me?
O no, pretty lady that never can be.
I've a wife back in London and children twice three.
Two wives in the army is too many for me.

Related Links
From John Renfro Davis
Information from Bruce Olsen's Roots of Folk Website