The first is January, the sun goeth very low,
And in some farmer's barton the cattle feed on straw;
The weather being very cold and the snow lie on the ground;
'Twill be an alteration before the year come round.
The next is February, so early in the spring,
The farmer's plough a-going, it is a glorious thing.
The little lambs a-playing alongside of their dam;
I thought upon the increase and was thankful for the same.
Now March is to be noted as any in the year,
Providing for the harvest and brewing of strong beer
So long before the time God knows who'll live to see;
Here's a health unto our King and defeat his enemy.
For in the morning early, so early and so soon
I saw the innocent farmer a-sowing of his corn
With his gallant team come after a-smoothing of his land
And I hope all things will prosper whate'er he takes in hand.
When May I walked out to hear the small birds sing
Their notes were so delightful paying homage to their Queen,
Which charms my heart to hear them as I's walking on my way,
'Twas each one breaking notes as they sit on yonder tree.
'Twas in the morning early, the lark begins to sing
And birds are singing merriliy all in the month of June;
The cuckoo she's a fine bird, she whistle and she fly
And every time she cry "Cuckoo" the summer draweth nigh.
Now six months I have mentioned, the seventh is July,
Come lads and lasses to the field our fallow for to try;
Let's drink, boys, and be merry, and be all of one mind
For night be coming on, let's make hay while sun do shine.
Now August is the harvest and let us all advance
When there's meat an' liquor plenty and work do stand no chance.
The farmer cries "Well done, my lads, the day will be our friend
So we will drink and make good work until the day doth end."
The middle of September is harvest put aside
In ordering of our business and dressing to provide,
We'll do all things in season, I think it just and right
For summer now is ended, 'tis cold by day and night.
For the trees they do look naked, the leaves begin to fall,
October is a winter month, I hope you know it all,
The frost hath cut it off 'twill never more be seen
For he do rob the meadows of all their green.
Now the fifth of November is the day of olden date;
We'll keep it in remembrance unless it be forgot;
So let's drink and be merry, boys, and here's a song to sing
For over the whole nation the bells begin to ring.
Now December is the last of all I'm going for to mention,
I shan't proceed no further, it is not my intention;
So let's conclude and be merry, boys, and be all of good cheer
And I wish you a meet Xmas and a happy new Year.
Source: A Dorset Book of Folk Songs
, EFDSS, 1958
Collected from John Northover, Uploaders by the Hammond brothers. I have amended "the now lies on the ground" to "the snow lies on the ground" in verse 1. I have left 'Xmas' in the last verse as printed, but think it probable that 'Christmas' was sung, rather than 'X-mas'.
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
The Months of the Year
(thematic) The Seasons of the Year