Dalesman’s Litany


Jon Admits, “Fay is from Keighley so I fear will never forgive Tim Hart for his mispronunciation (‘Keeley’). I’ve at least got that right although, as ever, the southern accent lets me down with this song.”

Fair enough I suppose as this was originally written in a broad Yorkshire dialect by a man with a a particular interest in said in the late C19th. Mainly Norfolk covers that  (dialect ‘n’ all)and also makes clear that the tune is a recent addition. The song or poem more like was written by a Frederick William Moorman and you can Wiki him here, although it’s a brief entry and I note he died quite young, so if you know him please add below. I’ll also leave you to Mudcat here as well. I like this one and suppose it marks the effects of the industrial revolution, but the protagonist seems to have flung himself at anything going to earn his family’s keep, yet escaped at last. It seems odd, but this very idea could become almost as arcane as any of the motifs we’ve had here to date. A sort of Victorian Escape To The Country if you will.


49 Responses to “Dalesman’s Litany”

  1. Shelley says:

    Loved that – what a great tune too.

    I’d never noticed Tim Hart’s the mis-pronunciation of Keighley, but being a southerner …..

  2. Simon Dewsbury says:

    ‘From Hull and Halifax and Hell the good lord deliver me’ Is this sung on the terraces at some rugby league matches then?

  3. Jane Ramsden says:

    I love this song but, as I mentioned on here once before, Tim Hart’s mispronounciation of Keighley sent me into a hissy fit! Well, it does rather undermine the dalesman’s litany!

    Coincidentally, I am taking a Lancashire Afsadder around Yorkshire Keighley this Thursday. Peter Walsh, you know who you are, and your comment that I can ‘help you find a pan scourer’, which I said was hardly exciting, and you said ‘we can work our way up’ prompts the comment: ‘Ye Gods!’

    Wonderfully well sung, Jon, regardless of accent. You may not be Northern, but lack of another obvious regional variation to my ears means it’s more than fine. At first, I thought the song should swing along a bit more, but I like being able to hear all the words better, ‘coming from round ‘ere like.’ And it is a litany. Being a heathen, I had to look up what a litany is:

    1. A series of petitions for use in church services or processions, usually recited by the clergy and responded to in a recurring formula by the people.

    2. A tedious recital or repetitive series.

    Yours was definitely not the latter, Jon! I enjoyed it more than Tim Hart’s version! And Keighley was where I bought your ‘Painted Lady’ on the offchance I might like it. You’d have missed having me on here if not for that! Hahahahaha!

  4. […] Dalesman’s Litany […]

  5. Brian says:

    It is good to have an unofficial Yorkshire Day.
    Here is a piece of Blason Populaire that is relevant.
    Bradford for cash.
    Halifax for dash.
    Wakefield for pride and poverty.
    Huddersfield for show.
    Sheffield whats low.
    Leeds for dirt and vulgarity.

    A fly,a flea,a magpie and a flitch of bacon.
    A fly will tipple with anybody,so will a Yorkshireman. A flea will bite anybody,so will a Yorkshireman. A magpie will chatter with anybody,so will a Yorkshireman. And a flitch of bacon is never good for anything till it has been hanged up,no more is a Yorkshireman.

    Now I wonder from which county that originated.

  6. Peter Walsh says:

    Well performed Jon; I have visions of Fay breathing down your neck when the town names needed pronouncing. You stood up to the task, well lad!

    Re Janie: Do I know how to show a lady a good time, or what! Brillo pads will be cheapest in Yorksher, I’m sure. Don’t worry everybody, she’ll be back safe and sound for AFSAD on Friday…

  7. Muzza (s.e.England) says:

    A great song…….tells a real story.
    Jane/Peter………you bring back memories of the first cup of tea my new wife made for me when we arrived, knackered, at the honeymoon caravan. I quoffed back the tea…it was horrible…but you can’t upset a new wife and so I made no comment.
    When she came to drink hers she realised she had cleaned the teapot but left the BRILLO pad in it!…….and you say we southerners are softies…I have two for breakfast every day now!

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    What a gent, Muzza! It could have scoured you for life! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I think that explains your peculiar grit and wit. Accept the title of Honorary Yorkshireman (for a day, since it’s not to be conferred lightly… but, for you, I’ll mull on an extension!)

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Brian: I’ve heard those rhymes afore. Bradford for cash was true in the sense of many Northern millionaires, but on the backs of the poor working man, as per the Dalesman’s Litany. Ref hanging, well we did produce the last official hangman, I believe, and we are known as the serial killer capital of the country!

    @ Peter: I am rarely safe and never sound. Reading the above, why are you not surprised?

  10. Eddy O'Dwyer says:

    Finally a song I recorded (marginally) earlier than Jon! the man’s stealing my entire repertoire! Hah

    I’m also from Keighley and cannot forgive Tim Hart

    Joking aside, its a top song, & done wonderfully, thanks Jon

  11. Lyn Briggs says:

    Great song – I heard it many years ago sung by Dave Burland, I think. It portrays that transition from simple rural life to the harshness of the industrial revolution. Thanks Jon for bringing it to my attention again.

  12. Muzza (s.e.England) says:

    @Jane………….by thee ‘eck lass….thank ee for t’honour……that will please three of my grandsons,,born and bred in Selby.

  13. Simon says:

    Thanks for the above folks. I though I might be headed for Hull myself, but that brought a smiile to my lips.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Oh, honorary extension of title granted, with Selby grandsons having leave to decide for how long!

    @ Skyman: I have been to Hull and their motto is ‘It’s never dull in Hull!’ It wasn’t when I went… but I like to think I made the difference… hahahahaha!

  15. Mal Jardine says:

    Excuses of southern birth are superfluous, for in fact Frederic (no “k”) Moorman was himself an “off-comed-un”. Might I offer here a piece I contributed to last Autumn’s Tykes’ News:
    Readers might be intrigued by a “Yorkshire folk” connection to England’s ignominious exit from the World Cup. F. W. Moorman (1872-1919) is known to us – or some at any rate – as dialect poet, leading light of the Yorkshire Dialect Society and Professor of English at the nascent Leeds University. In his youth however the Devon-born Frederic’s interests inclined more to the sporting, and he was captain of football at Aberystwyth College where he gained his degree. For his PhD, he went in 1893 to Strasbourg, now in France but at the time in Germany, where football was mainly a pursuit for British expatriates. In his two years there, he strove to foster interest in the game, becoming needless to say captain of Strasbourg University AFC, and translating for the first time the Laws of Association Football into German as part of a manual on the sport, his first published work. “He may fairly be regarded as the godfather of that game on German soil” commented a memoir after his untimely death by drowning. Thus the hand which penned A Dalesman’s Litany, as set to music by Bradford’s Dave Keddie and sung by the likes of Dave Burland (and yours truly), also played a part in setting Germany on the path to sporting success. Now, who was it that taught the Spanish….?

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thank you, Mal, for the above informative contribution! I can only say that Frederic Moorman was clearly a global citizen, a polyglot, & a sportsman with the soul of a tyke. What a shame he died so tragically young. This is one of my favourite songs. Nice to know it was set to music by a Bradfordian too.

  17. Marcus Lazarus says:

    Mal, glad to see you still ingrained in the traditional roots, my old friend (and I sincerely hope there is only 1 Mal Jardine in Yorkshire otherwise this could be extremely embarrassing!) . Per chanced across this web site browsing your name although you probably remember me with the my previous incarnation of Marc Mowforth, now married again and took her name instead of mine while denouncing my inherent family lineage due to the usual woes of life et al. Apologies to all others here for toe treading on your threads but would be curious if it were indeed one and the same …..

  18. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    @Marcus……………..did Mal ever get back to you to confirm yea or nay!
    Looking at the comments above I can scarcely believe that a year has flown by!

  19. Peter Walsh says:

    Eee! By ‘eck. Memories of a grand day out with Teddo are flooding back. Thanks for a great St Patricks meal in Keighley last year Janie. And it’s great to hear Jon’s rendition of this song again. I’m not attempting those smiley faces; just had a traumatic day with both car headlamps blown, so I’m not in the mood, hahaha! Driving to work on dazzling high beam at 5am didn’t endear me to other motorists…

  20. Diana says:

    A great song. I know most of the places mentioned in the song – a southerner by birth I might be, but a northener by inclination. 🙂

  21. Diana says:

    @Pewter not much fun for you then. I know whsat you mean about the other motorists, mind you I’d rather the headlights than all the tailgaters, I am sure there must be a large magnet fitted on the Yaris which attracts them, so a few taps on the brakes to discourage them sometimes works.

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    Morning all! Sorry to hear about the headlamps, Pierre! How does that happen?

    I am off to Keighley now for the fur trim! Will listen to ‘Dalesman’s Litany,’ one of my faves, later… and I will be looking spiffy when I do! Hahahahaha!

  23. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    @Jane………..the reason for your trip to Keighly……. I’m not rising to the bait!!!
    Bedazzled we might be when you return….I have noticed that Sarah Millican(Comedienne) and Ted are never seen in the same place at the same time.(wrong accent though!)

  24. Peter Walsh says:

    @Daina. Halfords had my bulbs in stock, but how come BOTH blew at exactly the same time? I do the same to discourage tailgaters!

  25. Diana says:

    @Pewter and they say lightning never strikes twice but that was a coincidence both blowing at once. Your were lucky that Halfords had the bulbs – usually when something goes wrong and some part is required it seems that it is never in stock.

    Last time there was a car nearly in the boot, it was a chap with a phone to his ear, but women are just as bad. One hit the car ages ago and she was bending down to pick up something off the floor. She did take responsibility for it though and paid for the damage.

  26. Diana says:

    @Jane do hope you are looking spiffy now and enjoyed your day out in Keighley. A catalogue of calamities today – what with Pewter’s headlamps. and in my case a plug point no longer of use and the kettle blown, and another bill at the vets. 🙁

    Apart from that everythings is peachy.

  27. Jane Ramsden says:

    Dave Keddie, as wrote the tune to this ‘ere song, was a founder member of our Topic Folk Club, now residing in the Irish Club. I was there last Thursday watching the very infectious Jon Palmer Acoustic Band. Work is still the concern now that it was in ‘The Dalesman’s Litany,’ as evidenced by Jon’s personally penned songs ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Gang Master.’ Check them out at this link on Reverbnation:


    A note on the Bradford Beck as mentioned in this song:

    “I’ve seen snow float down Bradford Beck,
    As black as ebony.”

    The Beck used to be tainted with industrial grime and the snow melted into the black water which flowed under the city of Bradford. It was known by the locals as The Mucky Beck. The manholes are still there, the Beck still runs under the streets of Bradford, flowing down from the Thornton valley, and comes out on Canal Road at the River Aire in Shipley (near where I live, Aireville.)

    The canal was built parallel to the Beck and, at one time, it was possible to travel right into the centre of Bradford by canal boat. Not in my lifetime though! It was always subject to a great deal of pollution, has been closed, re-opened and closed again. If plans for watery regeneration in Bradford city centre come to fruition, it could be re-opened again. See Beck pics here:


  28. Jane Ramsden says:

    Ref Bradford regeneration mentioned above, we are at the point of launching the newly-completed Mirror Pool with over 100 fountains, one of which shoots water over 100′ into the air and is the tallest in Europe. Hope the water is not from the Beck! It is in a different square from the one where the canal barges used to converge. Pics of Mirror Pool here at link below. I’ve yet to go down and see it! They are hoping it will attract business and create jobs.


  29. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: Yes, I am looking spiffy now, after the fur trim!

    @ Muzza: Any similarity between Sarah Millican and myself is purely illusory… but Ted can do accents… hahahahaha!

    (Watched her on tv tonight with weatherman, John Kettley. He is from these parts. His mother was one of my teachers in infants’ school!)

  30. Jane Ramsden says:

    However, if it’s ovine amusement you want, to offset ‘The Dalesman’s Litany,’ check this out. Utterly fantastic and beggars baalief!


  31. Peter Walsh says:

    Wow Teddo, that wimp link is amazing. Leonardo Baa Vinci, hahahaha!

  32. Diana says:

    Jane that link was really good. Very clever indeed. No need for the makers of that video to feel sheepish wot? 😆

  33. supunselt says:

    Who and where to edit this summer on fair, appropriation your information.

  34. Diana says:

    Enjoyed this one again.

  35. Sylvia says:

    enjoyed this again, suppose it helps coming from yorkshire

  36. Jane Ramsden says:

    Totally, totally lurve it… mucky beck an’all!

  37. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane…….what’s not to love……….Pandora’s Box and Bombay Mix….bliss

  38. Old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Checking the comments from YESTERYEAR…….how on earth did I resist a reply to this one!!!!

    Jane Ramsden says:
    March 16, 2012 at 12:10 am
    @ Diana: Yes, I am looking spiffy now, after the fur trim!

    Two years on Janey………Time for another Brazilian…….purrrrrfect

  39. Diana says:

    I am not sure you are on the right track there Muzza.

    A great Yorkshire song.

  40. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey.UK) says:

    So is it pronounced …..’Keethly’…………the sound track is too subtle to pick up the nuance

  41. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    I’m still here …watching and waiting for you lot…and testing to see if th site still takes comments (talking to myself!)

  42. Linda says:

    @Muzza left you a comment concerning weather and vests 4th March

  43. Brian Kell says:

    Great song Jon been singing it for years, got it from Tim Hearts rendition. Born in Durham and dyslexic does not help with pronunciation too old to care now though. Keep it up, make my morning5

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

    I’m still lurking and enjoying reading all the old banter (and nine years older)
    cant last much longer!

  45. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Corona virus not got me just yet!….talk about total disruption of the civilised world….I hope we can look back and still make comments on this scary time next year!

  46. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Yes sireee……The good old vaccine taking the edge off our fears…..
    that is until several countries (with no research facilities or input)started putting doubt into folks minds as to the efficacy of the good old British vaccine,
    I thank the scientists for their work….I’m happy with it.

  47. OldMuzza(NWSurrrey UK) says:

    Thank you again to all the scientists who worked on the vaccines…especially our ..Dame Sarah Gilbert. on the Astra Zeneca

    Now we need somebody very clever to come up with a vaccination for new threat
    the Putin 22

  48. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ha…..should have made yesterday’s comment today as it was a junction on the Keighley road that has caused our Jane such distress!

  49. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    I still don’t know how to say Keighley
    (no head from the leaf fringed sill, leaned over and looked into his ‘brown’ eyes where he stood perplexed and still! (The Listeners)
    Must remember to ask at the Topic zoom session @8pm on 18th March.

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