MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Nancy Lovely Nancy
Cyril O'Brien NFLD 2 Tape 7 Track 4
Trepassey Audio:

LEACH: All right
O'BRIEN (sings):

So late so late one evening all in the month of May
We hoist our British colours for Boston sailed away
Where the hills and fields were guarded with pretty girls all round
We had one sailor lad on board all in his uniform

He wrote his love a letter give her to understand
That he was going to leave her bound to some foreign land
When she received this letter straightway to him did go
Saying Jimmy my love Jimmy are you going to leave me so

For nine long months or better I’ve been courting thee
So stay at home prove kind and marry me
If I was to stay at home my dear while others go in my place
Wouldn't it be a scandal likewise a big disgrace
For the king he wrote for seamen bold and I for one must go
Not for my very life love would l have answered no

Then I’ll cut off my yellow locks men's clothing I’ll put on
And l will go 'long with you and be your servant man
If on some field of battle you may receive a ball
I’ll bandage up your bleeding wounds if on me you will call

Your waist it is too slight my love your fingers they are too small
To wait on me in battle where many a brave lad falls
Where cannons loud do rattle and musket shells do fly
With the silver trumpets sounding to end all dying cries

Besides they are some pretty girls from Boston Bristol brave
If l should go a-courting what would my Nancy say
Your Nancy she would say Jimmy be kind and true to me
And l will be your Nancy whatever it costs me

Oh Nancy lovely Nancy those words have won my heart
Come let us get married this night before we'll part
This couple they got married and both crossed o'er to Maine
We wish them health and happiness also myself the same

LEACH: That's good!


Sources: Laws K14; Sharp-100E, 30; BrownII, 101; Chappell-FSRA, 38; Karpeles, 1971: 176; Creighton, 40; Roud #527

From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Also known as "Oh Nancy from England" Casey, George MUNFLA 68-40; Goldstein, Kenneth S. and A. O'Hara and Gerald Thomas and H. Rowlings MUNFLA 78-239

History: Also known as "Farewell, Lovely Nancy."  Found in the United States, England, Ireland, and Atlantic Provinces of Canada.

Text: Jimmy tells Nancy he will sail away to fight in the war.   Nancy says that she will disguise herself as a man and follow him, telling him that he will need her to bandage his wounds on the battle field.   He tells her that she is too small and too weak to follow him into battle.   She continues her rebuttal stating that she "will be your Nancy whatever it costs me." Upon hearing her words of love and devotion, Jimmy wants to get married straight away.   They do so and cross over to Maine together.   The singer wishes them "health and happiness."

Tune:   This triple metre tune has a classic arch-shaped ABBA form and is major in tonality.


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