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Seventeen come Sunday

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Place Collected: Drybrook
Date collected: 1921 (11 Sep)
Collector: Sharp, Cecil
Roud Number: 277

This iconic English folk song about a young lady who is seduced by a soldier exists in numerous different versions. It was particularly common in England’s southern counties but was also collected in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, County Armagh, and other places, including the United States. T. Batchelar of London printed an early broadside version (“Maid and Soldier”) between 1817 and 1828. Ralph Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger incorporated versions of it into their compositions, and it has been sung by Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and many other folk performers. The Clancy Bros. and Tommy Makem performed a traditional version learned from Makem’s mother. Earlier versions are frequently sad cautionary tales in which the girl is left betrayed and bereft; but later, happier, versions celebrate feminine beauty, the joys of sexual congress, and the pleasures of marriage.

Notes by Lewis Jones and Jon Lighter