Although this wistful traditional song from my large collection has familiar elements, such as looking from a window and the symbolism of herbs, this is the only version I found. Hyssop stands for purity and sage for wisdom, so we can be sure the lady has done the right thing.
The cartoon came from a surprising source. One of a series of articles on country characters in Farmers’ Weekly.
Children delight in nonsense rhymes (me too) and my collection of street rhymes and games has plenty of them. Alison McMorland’s book and album ‘The Funny Family’ has this song which includes words and phrases found in many skipping, clapping and ball games. When I first heard her version of The Funny Family in the 1970s I thought it was the best and longest and had a good tune to go with it. The words were slightly different to versions I already knew so I spent some time learning Alison’s and sang it around the schools. When I returned to some schools a year or more later I found that the children had adapted the song. If I was teaching in a school for any length of time it meant I had to sing what they sang, including variations in the tune and word order, because I was outnumbered! That’s the folk process. It’s also the reason why I had to write the chorus down for this morning’s recording.
For some reason the superstition developed in England that it is unlucky for the bride and groom to see each other on their wedding day until they are in the church for the service. But in ‘Under The Greenwood Tree’ Thomas Hardy writes of the old custom of the bride and groom leading the wedding party round the village together before the ceremony so that everyone can witness their intention and add their prayers and good wishes for the couple. And that’s what’s happening in the top painting.