Week 83 – A Week Before Easter

Well I’m nothing if not predictable – what song did you expect me to post here, the weekend before Easter?
Mind you, the opening couplet doesn’t ring very true today:

Now a week before Easter the morn bright and clear,
The sun it shone brightly and keen blew the air.

The air is keen all right, but I wouldn’t exactly call the morn bright and clear. Here’s the view from my window.

No roses in my back garden, and more snow than one would like, this week before Easter.

No roses in my back garden, and more snow than one would like, this week before Easter.

I think I first heard this sung by Barry Dransfield on the LP The Rout of the Blues, but I learned it from Bob Copper’s book A Song for Every Season. In the final chapter of that book, where Bob writes about the family’s connection with the folk establishment, there is this passage:

On 12 May 1952 we had arranged to give a concert of songs at Cecil Sharp House, the headquarters of the E.F.D.S.S., in London  but early in the morning of that very day Uncle John was suddenly taken ill and died. I travelled up alone to make a token appearance and give the sad reason for our non-appearance as a family. I felt little like singing but was prevailed upon to sing just one item and I chose the song that Uncle John would have sung as a solo if he had been there, ‘The Week before Easter’. The last verse ran like this:

‘So dig me a grave both long, wide and deep,
And strew it all over with roses so sweet,
That I might lay down there and take a long sleep,
And that’s the right way to forget her.’

A few days later at a simple service in the little flint church John was laid to rest in that patch of Sussex earth to which so many of our family had been returned. I sent no wreath but threw on to his coffin as it lay in its last resting place a spray of roses and a card inscribed: ‘– and strew it all over with roses so sweet…’

As a Mudcat correspondent pointed out, Bob himself departed this world in the week before Easter, 2004. So this week’s song is dedicated to the memory of Bob Copper, a lovely man to whom so many of us owe so much.

A Week Before Easter

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