The Huntsman


Fay joins in again, with a song that features on her Looking Glass CD and is one of many highlights of her live set. Jon once again reminisces about the camp experience, “Another FSC one. It was introduced to FSC by Beefy, a legendary character who I only met once and who had attended the original Forest School (I think that’s right.) No-one is quite sure where he got it from but it seems to be a translation of a German folk song.” Beefy it seems is the stuff of legend and I confess to feeling the misty eyed emotion behind this piece that I happened upon from The Independent. Life affirming stuff indeed and it makes me wonder how I never new about the mythical camps that Jon keeps referring to and wishing that I had. Anyway back to the matter in hand… Apart form the sheer joy of hearing this it’s a rather curious song. Are we in transformation territory again..? There seems to be a general current suggesting the translation from German that Jon suggests, but in all honesty I can’t find anything of substance. If it is a translation is it accurate? Perhaps there’s an alternate title that someone knows, or someone simply more diligent than I who can shed more light. A cracking tune (that I’ve been humming to myself all round Sainburys on my lunch time shopping jaunt) and the wonderful harmony really brings it to life.

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24 Responses to “The Huntsman”

  1. Reinhard says:

    Now I know why I never heard this beautiful song anywhere else in the English tradition! It is indeed a translation of two German songs, Es blies ein Jäger wohl in sein Horn and Drei Lilien which both were noted down by Friedrich Nicolai in 1777, and seem to be descendants of an even older ballad of the Nachtjäger (night hunter).

  2. John Bryson says:

    Lovely song, superbly sung

  3. Malcolm Hudson says:

    Is it possible to have the lyrics/Chords to this lovely song.
    keep up the go work

  4. Reinhard says:

    Malcolm, you can find lyrics and guitar chords at the Forest School Camps songbook

  5. Matthew Edwards says:

    Sometimes real magic happens!

    First there is the sheer gorgeous richness of the voices of Fay and Jon singing the song; then there is the beautiful tribute to Beefy and the Forest School Camps written by David Aaronovitch in the piece Simon found; and finally Reinhard has triumphantly discovered the German originals of the song.

    It is as if all these little bits of a jigsaw had been lying around for ages, and now in one fell swoop your combined efforts have suddenly put them together to make a wonderful picture full of light and life!

    That’s real honest down-to-earth magic! 🙂


  6. Alan Peters says:

    I’m afraid this leaves me cold.


  7. the_otter says:

    Good song – I’ve hadn’t heard it before. Thank you Reinhard for providing the German versions.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    I’m with Matthew on this one! Some very different & interesting combined harmonies here, which could be superbly honed up for a marquee track – is that what they call it? – on that joint album a few people have hinted they would like to see!

  9. Mark says:

    Goodness me, how beauifully sung. Fay’s voice really shines on that one. Well done!

    I love that line about longing to hear the funeral bells too…

  10. Simon says:

    Thanks Reinhard, I should have consulted you in advance on this but I’d also love to know how good the translation is and if there’s any bits missing or changed in the English story.

    And thanks Matthew, I couldn’t believe it when I found the piece about Beefy and I note that it dates from 1999… It’s almost like it’s been lurking there waiting for us to finish the story.

  11. Reinhard says:

    Simon, “The Huntsman” verses 1 and 2-6 are very cluse in content to “Es blies ein Jäger” verses 1 and 3-7. “Jäger” verse 9 has the huntsman catch the girl with his net and marry her, though.

    “The Huntsman” verses 8-9 are similar to “Drei Lilien” verses 1-2 if you replace the rose with three lilies and the young huntsman with a generic lover.

  12. crossstitchgill says:

    This is one of my favourites! It is sung so beautifully by Fay and Jon. I loved it the first time I heard it on Fay’s album.

  13. LadyD says:

    Beautiful. That’s going to be earworming me all day now. 🙂

  14. Eleanor says:

    Thank you for this. I have been hoping you would include The Huntsman. The FSC song book that is nearest to hand (2006 version)has both roses red and lilies on her grave, a couple more veses and more closely relates the damsel to a deer with “high and mighty leapings”.
    Thankyou for including this.

  15. the_otter says:

    Coming back to this one to declare my unequivocal love for it. When I first heard it, I thought it was okay. Then I listened a few more times and it grew on me, then a few dozen times more and I loved it and then I bought the version on Fay Hield’s album and, in short, I believe that this song and I will have a long and happy future together.

  16. Piers Cawley says:

    I’ve been singing this out, and it’s amazing how much the process of singing a song can change the way you understand it. I now think that this is a classic turning of the year/death and rebirth song. The vents in it have happened before and will happen again. The huntsman casts his net about the (rose) bush, and of course the Nut Brown Girl knows “full well” what will happen, and so it repeats.

    A great, weird, song. Hugely singable.

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    If it’s a turning-of-the-year song, then it fits well with harvest-time too. Fay & Jon, I love the lilts you manage to achieve in this one. Please, please, please make that joint album! Don’t want this ‘lost and gone!’

    @ Piers: Will suit your voice very well too, from a sample I heard of your singing somewhere via this illustrious blog!

  18. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Jane/Piers….after Jane’s comment I went searching for Piers…but could only find this hirsute fellow with glorious haystack hair and a very fetching hat……….
    If Piers’ avatar was changed Jane…I think you would have a bit of competition….

  19. Gabriel says:

    So the song is a metaphor for the change of the seasons. That’s good to know. I heard this song on “Looking Glass,” and until I read this thread, I thought the song was about a huntsman who is a homicidal stalker.

  20. Diana says:

    A great duet and Fay does a lovely job solo. Nice to hear the pair of them though in perfect harmony.

  21. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ref Pier’s video above….I wonder what happened to his library…are you out there Piers?

  22. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Do you reckon that that little ‘glottal switch’ in Fay’s voice is her trade mark by now?

  23. ErinFW says:

    @OldMuzza: Glottal switch! Glad to have a word for it.

  24. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Wey Hey…for the first time in ages- here I am thinking it is the 31st September
    Ok…..have realized now….. Sooooo …..Happy October everybody…should I record for future thoughts that Energy prices have rocketed and lil ole UK is trying to avoid a financial crash!…phew!

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