for mixed choir, a capella
Duration 4'15"
The Maid and the Barley is a free setting of an English tune known variously as “The Farmer”s Daughter,” “Cold and Raw,” “The Northern Ditty,” or “The Scotchman Outwitted by the Country Damsel.”  It appears in the collection “Pills to Purge Melancholy” (1719-1720), edited by Thomas D’Urfey (c. 1653-1723).  By the mid-17th century, the disposition known as melancholy had passed its fashionable prime and was regarded as something to be to be purged.  Of several popular treatments (including blood-letting!), the most widely embraced was mirth, readily supplied by cheap pamphlets and song-sheets.  In 1661, the London publisher John Playford brought out a collection entitled “An Antidote against Melancholy.”  The collection grew in subsequent editions, culminating in a six-volume edition edited by the colorful personality of Thomas d’Urfey, then nearing the end of his life as singer, songwriter, man about town, and friend and confidant of royalty from Charles II to Queen Anne.  Many of the songs were taken from previous collections, although d’Urfey added his own tunes, modified existing tunes, and added and revised lyrics.  D’Urfey was known chiefly for his ribald lyrics, as well as a terrible stutter which vanished only when singing or swearing.  His work belongs to the tradition of English bawdy, which favors texts rich in double meanings.  The Maid and the Barley adds some new double meanings with textual counterpoint in the supporting voices.  The refrain, “Barley, barley, barley” is newly composed.
The Maid and the Barley Music player

Refrain: Barley, barley, barley, barley, barley, barley, barley, etc.

Cold and raw the North did blow, bleak in a mornin’ early;
All the trees were hid with snow, cover’d with winter fearly:
As I came riding o’er the slough, I met with a Farmer’s Daughter;
Rosie cheeks, and bonny brow, good faith, made my mouth to water.

Down I vail’d my bonnet low, meaning to show my breeding,
She return’d a graceful bow, her visage far exceeding:
I ask’d her where she went so soon, and long’d to begin a parley:
She told me to the next market town, a purpose to sell her Barley.

“In this purse, sweet soul!” said I, “twenty pound lies fairly,
Seek no farther one to buy, for I’ll take all thy Barley:
Twenty more shall purchase delight, thy person I love so dearly,
If thou wilt lie by me all night, and go home in the morning early.”

“If forty pound would buy the Globe, this thing I’d not do, Sir;
Or were my kin as poor as Job, I’d never raise ’em so, Sir:
For should you prove tonight my friend, we’d get a kid together,
And you’d be gone e’r nine months end, and where shall I find the father?

Pray, what would my parents say, if I should be so silly,
To give my maidenhead away, and lose my true love Billy?
Oh this would bring me to disgrace, and therefore I say you nay, Sir;
And if that you would me embrace, first marry, and then you may, Sir!”

I told her I had wedded been, fourteen years and longer,
Else I’d choose her for my Queen, and tie the knot yet stronger.
She bid me then no farther roam, but manage my wedlock fairly,
And keep my purse for the Spouse at home,
          for some other should have her barley.

Then as swift as any roe, she rode away and left me;
After her I could not go, of joy she quite bereft me:
Thus I myself did disappoint, for she did leave me fairly,
My words knock’d all things out of joint,
          I lost both the maid and the barley.