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Sing Ovey, Sing Ivy

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Alternative title: Elfin Knight, The

Performer: Cox, Jim
Place Collected: Hampton Fields
Date collected: Between 1927 and 1935
Roud Number: 21093

This song is often thought to be derived from the song Scarborough Fair, named The Elfin Knight by folklorists and collectors, including James Madison Carpenter who recognised the connection.  Source singers usually call the song An Acre of Land.  However, the resemblance is superficial.  Both songs have similar agricultural phrases and also describe a series of impossible tasks.  It seems possible that someone who knew the song Scarborough Fair decided to rework it as a simpler song, without the man-woman dialogue.  The song in this Acre of Land form has been found often in England but hardly at all elsewhere.

Mr Cox’s tune cannot be traced in the Carpenter collection, which is a pity as it is the only version collected in Gloucestershire.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 12 June 2016