“The Streams of Lovely Nancy”

Alternate titles: “The Streams of Nantsian”; “Faithful Emma”; “The Dreams of Lovely Nancy”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1825 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 28(29))
Keywords: love rejection lyric nonballad
Found in: Britain(England(West,South)) Ireland US(MW,SE) Canada(Newf)

Description

The singer (a sailor?) describes the "streams of lovely Nancy", a mountain with a castle, his beloved (who lives in the castle), a river, and a ship. He ends by addressing all "streamers"; he will write to his love, "For her rosy lips entice me..."

Long description

In this extremely confused song, the singer (probably a sailor) describes the "streams of lovely Nancy", a mountain with a castle, his beloved (who lives in the castle), a river, and a ship from the Indies. He ends by addressing all "streamers" (tin-miners washing ore?), saying he will write to his love, "For her rosy lips entice me, with her tongue she tells me 'No'/And a angel might direct us right, and where shall we go?"

Notes

All versions of this song seem to be equally mysterious. Lloyd quotes A.G. Gilchrist as speculating, with evidence, that this song is actually a relic of a hymn to Mary. -PJS

Margaret Dean-Smith offers the speculation that "streams/streamers" refer not to flowing waters but to "streamers," who worked in tin mines. If that helps. - RBW

Cross references

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 98, "The Streams of Lovely Nancy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 294-295, "The Streams of Lovely Nancy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hodgart, p. 149, "The Streams of lovely Nancy" (1 text)
  4. Gardner/Chickering 26, "Green Mountain" (1 text)
  5. Karpeles-Newfoundland 64, "The Streams of Lovely Nancy" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  6. SHenry H520, p. 259, "The Strands of Magilligan" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Chappell-FSRA 29, "The Shipwreck" (1 text, probably this piece although there is no mention of Nancy; there is one brief mention of Polly, and no shipwreck!)
  8. DT, LOVNANCY* (erroneously titled "The Steams of Lovely Nancy")
  9. Roud #688
  10. BI, VWL098