Location: Ripon, Yorkshire, England (SE3171)
Year: Col. 1920
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]


Douglas Kennedy
Observations on the Sword-Dance and Mummers' Play
Journal of the English Folk Dance Society, 2nd Series, 1930, No.3, pp.23-25



{The Words of the the Ripon Sword-Dance}

{Sung by all.}

[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]


Make me a room for I am coming,
All for to let you understand
That Christmas time is now approaching,
Since we left yon foreign land. {bis}

{Spoken individually.}

[General Warrington]

The first that comes in is General Warrington
Who comes he on yonder plains,
He goes a-wandering and gains the victory
On the plains of Waterloo. {bis}

[Hieland Laddie]

The next that comes is the Hieland Laddie
Who's got sheep on yonder plains,
Romping and roving among the bonnie lassies,
Now he's gone and spent it all. {bis}

[Tom the Tinker]

The next that comes is Tom the Tinker
Who comes he your kettles for to mend,
For lassies if you dare not, Tom will venture,
Tom will stand to be your friend.


Here comes Belzeebug [Belcibub]
And over his shoulder he carries a club,
And in my hand a warming [frying] pan,
And [he calls] himself a jolly old man.


In comes I that never came yet
With my big head and little wit,
Tho' my head be big and my wit be small,
I'll do the best I can [but we'll do our best] to please you all.
A room, a room, a gallant room,
Give is room to rise. [arrive]
We have come to show [our] activity [here] on Christmas time
Activity you [youth] , activity age,
... I'll ... [and to maintain I will] spend my blood for Old England again.
Step in, St. George, and clear the way.

[St. George]

I am St. George, bold Hector [actor] is my name,
Broadsword and buckle by my side
And I hope to win the game.


Hoop, Scoop, thou lie [hook, crook, thou lies]
I can if I die [I care not if I die]
[For] If I draw my sword I'm sure to break thy head.

[St. George?]

How canst thou break my head?
Since it is made of steel [stone] ,
[And my hands are made of steel]
My toes and fingers [My fingers and toes] and knuckle-bones,
I'll challenge thee to yield [We'll challenge thee to feel.]


A doctor, a doctor, five pounds for a doctor,
Ten pounds for a doctor.
Is there a living doctor? [Is there never a doctor to be found]


Yes I am a doctor.


What by?


By my travels.


How far has thou travelled?


I've travelled through Italy, Sicily [Tickerley] , France and Spain,
I [High] Germany and back again.


What canst thou cure?


I can cure all sorts


What's all sorts?


I can cure the young, the old,
the hot the cold,
the lovesick, living and the dead.
I can cure the itch, the stitch, the gallop and the gout,
the plague within and the plague without.
The plague that flies all round about.
If there be seven evils in that man, I can bring seventy-seven out.


Out with them.


Here, Jack, I have a little bottle in my right-hand pocket
Called 'jollup' and 'plain' [called every complaints] ,
Torches for blind bumble-bees,
Spectacles for broken-backed mice.
Here, Jack, take a little of this bottle [of nif naf]
And run [let] it down [go] thy throple [flip flap]
Arise, bold Jack, and fight again. [Jack rise up and fight]


Oh, oh, my back!


What's the matter with thy back?


My back is wounded, my heart's confounded
What a horrible [irritable] , terrible stroke.
Seven senses knocked into [driven in] four score,
This life has never been acted [and this life was never active] here before.

{Singing, all together.}

[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]


All [Old] gentry, all sentry, all stand [slung] in a row
I wish you no manner or ills [of ills] ,
I wish you all sweethearts and me a jacket.
So, ladies, I bid you farewell. {bis}



Kennedy's introduction:

The words of this play were first noted down by Dr.J.C.Husband, of Ripon, in 1920. An additional, and rather nore complete, version was given to him a few years later. Where the two versions differ, the alternative words of the first version are printed beneath the corresponding words of the second version [[after] in square brackets in this electronic copy].
The tunes with the third version of the words were notes by Dr.C.H.Moody, of Ripon, in 1925. I have to thank Dr. Husband, for permission to publish the words and tunes. [[The tunes are not given] in this transcript. They are for the first and last verses of the play.]
The Ripon Sword-Dance seems to have been very like the Kirkby Malzeard Dance, if it was not actually the same dance. It is interesting to note that this play was known locally as 'The Words of the Ripon Sword-Dance', and is not called the 'Christmas Play' or 'The Mummers'."

Peter Millington's Notes:

No speech designations are given in the original, and there are only a few stage directions. Some changes of character can be deduced from the wording of the next, as can some character names, but these interpretations may be subjective.

File History:

2001-01-01 - Entered by Peter Millington
2004-06-14 - Missing music added by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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