PEDIGREE: Mr. Furnivall cites a manuscript (“Appendix of Royal MSS, no. 58”) for which he cites no date or date range. I have spent a long search and come up nearly empty-handed. If this is the same MS as “Royal Appendix 58” which I saw in part of an article on JSTOR and elsewhere, “Royal Appendix 58” is a collection of lute music from the mid-sixteenth century. Furnivall also mentions (as does Edward Rimbault below) a second tune which begins with the same words, in Thomas Ravenscroft’s “Deuteromelia” from 1609 (which also gave us “Martin Said To His Man”). The lyrics and scansion are not similar, though.
SYNOPSIS: The book cited below, and Furnivall’s book, contain three verses:
1) By a bancke as I lay, Musinge my selfe A-lone — hey how!
A byrdeys voyce dyd me Reioyce (rejoice), syngynge by-fore the day;
And my-thought in hure lay she sayd wynter was past — hey how!
(burden) Dan dyry, cum den, dan dyry,
cum dyry, cum dyry, cum dyry,
cum dyry, cum dan, hey how!
2) The master of musyke, the lusty nyghtyngale — hey how!
Ffulle meryly and secretly she syngyth in the thyke,
An vnder hure breast a prike, to keep hure fro sleep — hey how!
3) A-wake, there-for, younge men, Alle ye that louers be — hey how!
Thus monyth of May, soo fresh, soo gay, So fayre by feld on fen,
Hath ffloryshe ylke a den; grete Ioy hyt is to see, — hey how!
AVAILABILITY: Internet Archive has at least one copy of Edward Rimbault’s “A Little Book of Songs and Ballads”:
“By A Bank As I Lay” begins on page 53