The Dawn of the Day


This is a haunting lament and Jon says, “A beautiful song about which I know very little, learnt from Maddy Prior. I sang this at my Grandfather’s funeral.” I’ll add that I also know very little and cannot find anything to help. Mainly Norfolk has the lyrics and I’ll note that it only appears on the live CD, ironically titled Tonight The Night. Steeleye have never recorded this in the studio. Anything you can add here will be appreciated as Mudcat offered an impenetrable wall of threads either related to ‘dawn’ or ‘day,’ but not necessarily both and nothing with this title or first line.

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25 Responses to “The Dawn of the Day”

  1. Reinhard says:

    Dawn is still an hour away but this is a fine way to start the day. Thank you!

  2. Shelley says:

    Absolutely gorgeous – and another for my ever-growing “to learn” list. I have Steeleye’s “Tonight’s the Night” album so I’ll be able to do a compare and contrast excercise.

  3. muzza says:

    Lovely song, sensitively sung…….especially poingnant as sung for Gdad…but the fine lyric loses track in lines 3 & 4 in last verse…..both in MNorfolk and Jon’s versions.
    The theme has to be winter and apply to departed person…… first thought follows:

    When the end of the day is a-falling
    When night time’s rest is a-calling
    Safe from winters darkness keep
    And in comfort gently sleep
    When the end of the day is a-falling

  4. muzza says:

    Forgot to say…….”when the evening star is a-sparkling” has more punch than “a-starting”

  5. SRD says:

    Another song beautifully done. Odd that there’s so little info anywhere, not even googling the lyrics gives much.

    Can’t agree with you though muzza, I much prefer the less sentimental original lyrics.

  6. Phil says:

    muzza – “starting” is the best word to my mind, as it refers to the evening star coming out. I also like “You can hear the winter moan/On the long road home” – is this the same as Steeleye’s version? (Reinhard’s transcription is different but looks a bit garbled.)

    I’d love to know who Steeleye got it from – it looks to me like a fairly recent addition to the tradition!

    Oh, and lovely singing, btw.

  7. Nige Rivers says:

    What a lovely gentle song, although a completely different subject it gives me the same peaceful feeling that Ed Rennie’s song for his wife does on Narrative.

  8. Reinhard says:

    Yes Phil, there were some mis-hearings in the first and last verse of my transcription. I hope they are fixed now.

  9. Val bagnall says:

    I think this is just lovely. It is sung beautifully and shows Jon’s voice off perfectly.

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  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very lovely, and beautifully sung, Jon. I think it is rather fitting that there is some mystery about this song, if sung at your grandfather’s funeral, going into the unknown. Mysterious, haunting, something special…

  12. Anne Payne says:

    Love this! I think the song is beautiful and the singing (as always) fantastic.

  13. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Maddy could always bring me near to tears with this song, and now you have done the same, sentimental old fool that I am.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    I tried to Google more info on this song, but drew a blank – save coming back to Reinhard’s excellent Mainly Nor-folk! He gives the source as Steeleye Span’s live CD, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ as stated above, and suggests the lyrics sound like they could have been written by Ross Kemp. If you click on the link to the album title, you then find a footnote to the tracklist that says all songs are traditional, save some exceptions, incl. track 10, which is this, and is just credited to Steeleye Span.

  15. Reinhard says:

    Crediting this song to Steeleye Span’s bassist Rick Kemp or to the whole band is just an educated guess of mine, Jane. The CD is a typical Shanachie Records CD and doesn’t have *any* information about the songs on it.

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Reinhard.

  17. Diana says:

    The words are lovely – for the rest everyone has said it better than I.

  18. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    I’m very embarrassed by my comments of previous years………….
    listened again and at no time did I feel the need to challenge the original words.
    Lovely song..lovely sentiments…

  19. silv says:

    What a beautiful song and so well sung. Thank you Jon.

  20. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Loved it again …just as it is…….

  21. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Loved it again…..and another year has flown by!

  22. seth says:

    This is one of a few we’ve picked out for my (celebration of life and MY life) wake. Wake-up-call truth to reshuffle
    priorities now, and accept the cycle of life for myself (68 yrs) and my wife (74 years) apart from all concerns and fears that are mostly part of our unconcious daily life.

  23. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Well…….poor old Seth’s comment has been hiding somewhere since JANUARY!!!!
    I trust that the mentioned wakes are far off.
    AFSAD reminds us, daily, to play these lovely songs……how many of us buy a CD…play it a couple of times and then file it away…this is a great library of folk stuff.
    and it’s raining outside………..

  24. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Oh this is lovely but really is too sad …….I think I want jolly songs when I go to the great morris dance in the sky…(can’t be too far off now)
    Had my annual chuckle at Jane’s typo in 2011 (10 above) where she got Ross Kemp mixed with Rick Kemp……the lyrics would have been vastly different if composed by Ross’s Eastenders character!….”get outa my pub” etc

  25. Kate says:

    Hi Everyone, this song was written by Maddy Prior. I asked her myself. It’s just gorgeous.

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