Come strike the harp, I long to hear those merry tales of old,
Ere youth has lost its flowery wreath and loving hearts grow cold,
And loving, loving hearts grow cold.
For it brings me back those happy times when roaming free and wild,
I played about my native home, I played about my native home,
I played about my native home, a merry mountain child.
Oh, tell me not of other lands across the deep blue sea,
This little isle of freedom’s sons, it’s dearer far to me,
It’s dearer, dearer far to me,
But tell me of that rural cot where happy faces smile,
And pleasant voices call me there, etc., a merry mountain child.
I wandered far through distant climes where dark-eyed daughters dwell,
And beauty charms the yielding soul with her resistless spell,
With her, with her resistless spell.
But oft-times turned my face away where youth and beauty smile,
To think of all the joys that blessed, etc.
Then strike the harp I long to hear those merry tales again.
Oh, let me linger o’er those tones, that native mountain strain,
That native, native mountain strain,
For it brings me back those happy times, that bleak and stormy wild,
Where nature makes me glad to be, etc.
Recorded by Ray Padgett and Steve Gardham at Holmfirth Folk festival.
This is a traditional song
One of the most popular songs in the Holme Valley, this song was written by J Tate in 1849 and set to music by the same composer, Joe Perkin, who scored the even more famous song The Holmfirth Anthem (See TYG55). He was choirmaster at Holmfirth in the middle of the nineteenth century. Most of today’s singers including Brian picked up the song from the singing of Arthur Howard, Brian’s wife’s great uncle, from whom several songs on our website are derived. Other singers in the Pennine dales keep the song alive and we could easily have used other recordings such as that of Will Noble. We wanted very much to use a recording of the late Haydn Thorp whose life was tragically cut short by Leukaemia at the age of twenty-two in 1999. He had already made the song his and was even known locally as the Merry Mountain Child. However, having Haydn’s voice available on the internet is still too upsetting for his family so we have chosen to use a recording of Haydn’s father, Brian, singing the song instead, and dedicate this recording to the memory of Haydn. An appraisal of Haydn’s life and music written by Dr Ian Russell appeared in Folk Music Journal, Vol. 8, Number 3, 2003, p266.