Folk Songs and Renovations: Master Kilby

MASTER KILBY
(traditional, arr. Nic Jones/T. Chesterton)

In the heat of the day when the sun shines so freely,
I met Master Kilby, so fine and so gay.

I pulled off my hat and I bowed to the ground,
And I said, Master Kilby, oh where are you bound?

I’m bound for the West, in the hopes to find rest;
And in the arms of my Nancy I will build a new nest.

She’s the girl I adore, she’s the choice of my heart,
Her skin shines like silver in every part.

And if I were the master of ten thousand pounds,
in bright gold and silver, or King William’s crown,

I’d part with it all from my own heart so freely
And it’s all for the sake of my charming Nancy.

I give her some kisses, it was down by the sea shore,
But still she lay asking, lay asking for more.

In the heat of the day when the sun shines so freely,
I met Master Kilby, so fine and so gay.

Background History
I learned this fine traditional song from the singing of Nic Jones; he recorded a studio version on his 1978 studio album ‘From the Devil to A Stranger’, now sadly unavailable, and there are also two live versions on his compilation albums ‘Unearthed’ and ‘Game, Set, and Match’. You can order Nic’s albums from Molly Music.

Nic apparently found this song in the Journal of the English Folk Song Society. It was collected by Cecil Sharp in January of 1909 from the singing of a Mr. Harry Richards of Curry Rivel, in Somerset, England. Benjamin Britten wrote a posh classical arrangement of it in 1961. His text is apparently very close to that noted down by Cecil Sharp. Nic altered it slightly for the version that he recorded on ‘From the Devil to a Stranger’, and most singers who’ve done the song since then have followed his arrangement.

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