Scarborough Fair

No.: 0001931
Scarborough Fair

Download Sheet Music Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Fair Introduction

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"Scarborough Fair" is a traditional ballad of Great Britain and more precisely Yorkshire.

 

The song relates the tale of a young man who instructs the listener to tell his former love to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well, adding that if she completes these tasks he will take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet, with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt once he has finished.

 

As the song spread, it was adapted, modified, and rewritten to the point that dozens of versions existed by the end of the 18th century, although only a few are typically sung nowadays. The references to the traditional English fair, "Scarborough Fair" and the refrain "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme" date to 19th century versions, and the refrain may have been borrowed from the ballad Riddles Wisely Expounded, (Child Ballad #1), which has a similar plot. A number of older versions refer to locations other than Scarborough Fair, including Wittingham Fair, Cape Ann, "twixt Berwik and Lyne", etc. Many versions do not mention a place-name, and are often generically titled ("The Lovers' Tasks", "My Father Gave Me an Acre of Land", etc.).

The Lyrics of Scarborough Fair:

A version published in 1889 is typical of modern versions:

 

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She was once a true love of mine.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without a seam or needlework,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to wash it in yonder dry well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to dry it on yonder grey thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
She will be a true love of mine.
Now he has asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
I hope he'll answer as many for me
Before he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand,
Then he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one pepper corn,
And he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to shear it with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And bind it up with a peacock feather.
And he shall be a true love of mine.
Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
And never let one corn of it fall,
Then he shall be a true love of mine.
When he has done and finished his work.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme:
Oh, tell him to come and he'll have his shirt,
And he shall be a true love of mine.

Scarborough Fair Stave Preview ( Total 7 )

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Scarborough Fair Numbered Musical Notation Preview ( Total 6 )

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