One Morning In May

From Vol. 3
Traditional Treasures


CAPO: Fret 2



SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate

A Little About This Song…

One Morning in May is an ages old story, its trail leading from 1639 when it was called “The Souldier and His Knapsack”. This early version tells the tale differently; the soldier talks the maiden into going into the woods with him “to hear the nightingale sing”. When he plays the fiddle for her, she falls for him and proclaims her love, but as he leaves, he admits he is married. Her heart is tragically broken.

This traditional folk tale has been called “To Hear The Nightingale Sing”, “The Nightingale Song”, The Bold Grenadiere”, “The Wild Rippling Water”, “Morning In May” and “The Soldier and The Lady”. It appears in the Gilbert R. Combs Ballad Collection of songs from eastern Kentucky compiled from 1907-1930.

The words printed in our books are found in The American Songbag by Carl Sandburg (p.1927) who credits Gilbert Combs with showing him the song. Most all contemporary recordings agree on similar lyrics though numerous melody variations and chord progressions are used. In 1967, the song was featured in the film Far From the Madding Crowd, beautifully sung by Isla Cameron.

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