Location: Nottinghamshire, England (SK----)
Year: Publ. 1902
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]


Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs: Both Tunes and Words from Tradition
London, Metzler & Co., 1902, pp.49-50



{The Old Horse. Christmas Play}


The Old Horse: Prologue
[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]
By leave, you gentlemen all,
Your pardon I do crave,
For making bold to come,
To see what sport you'll have.
There's more in company,
They're following close behind;
They've sent us on before,
Admittance for to find.
These blades they are but young;
Never acted here before;
They'll do the best they can,
And the best can do no more.

{Enter the Old Horse.}

The Old Horse: Main song
[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]
This is my poor old horse, that has carried me many a mile,
Over hedges, over ditches, over high-barred gate and stile;
But now he has grown old, and his nature does decay,
He's forced to snap at the shortest grass that grows along the way;
Poor old horse! Poor old horse!
His coat it was once of the linsey-woolsey fine,
His mane it grew at length, and his body it did shine,
His pretty little shoulders that were so plump and round,
They're both worn out and aged; I'm afraid he is not sound;
Poor old horse! Poor old horse!
His keep it was once of the best of corn and hay,
That ever grew in cornfields, or in the meadows gay;
But now into the open fields he is obliged to go,
To stand all sorts of weather, either rain, or frost, or snow;
Poor old horse! Poor old horse!
His hide unto the tanner I will so freely give;
His body to the dogs; I would rather him die than live:
So we'll hang him, whip him, strip him, and a-hunting let him go;
He's neither fit to ride upon, or in the team to draw;
Poor old horse! Poor old horse!


Mason's footnote:

"It is an old Christmas custom in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to go from house to house with the skull of a horse, painted black and red, and supported on a wooden fore-leg. A man in a stooping posture, and covered with a cloth, represents the body of the horse, and, from the inside, snaps its formidable jaws at the company. The custom also survives in South Wales, but the tune is different. There are many variations in the words. This is a Nottinghamshire version."

Peter Millington's Notes:

The original publication also includes piano accompaniments in addition to the melody.

File History:

2004-06-20 - Encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


TEI-encoded File

A TEI-encoded XML version of this text can be downloaded here.

Other Information

There may be more about this text at: