Mudcat Café message #4119973 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #79620   Message #4119973
Posted By: Levana Taylor
14-Sep-21 - 06:26 PM
Thread Name: Origins: 'Long looked for come at last'
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Long looked for come at last'
This song sounds late-eighteenth-century to me. Despite Nick Caffrey calling it "very popular," Roud (#1643) only lists four sources besides an undated broadside: William Winter of Andover, Hampshire, in 1906; Mrs. Lawrence of Somerton, Somerset, in 1906; Mary Anne Clayton of Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, in 1909; and Jane Wall of Driffield, Gloucestershire, between 1914 and 1916. The Ballad Index has nothing additional to offer.

However, William Doerflinger, in Shantymen and Shantyboys, has another, which he believed to be of Irish origin, collected from "Herbert Hinchey, New Brunswick woodsman." This version has already been posted to Mudcat with the music: Two Lovers Discoursing.

And here are lyrics transcriptions from two more recent performances. The first is Andy Turner's nice rendition with anglo-concertina on his website. He notes, "I learned this from Caroline Jackson-Houlston. She and I used to sing it together performing as Flash Company in the early 1980s..." and he identifies the source as "[the] version from the 85 year old William Winter, collected at Andover by H. Balfour Gardiner, and which forms the basis of the version printed in Frank Purslow's The Wanton Seed."

As sung by Andy Turner

Abroad as I was walking down by a riverside,
I heard two lovers talking; the young girl she replied:
How could you be so cruel, how could you serve me so?
You promised you would marry me about twelve months ago.

My dear, I was prevented, and could not come till now,
So rest yourself contented, I ne'er shall break my vow.
If I'd all the gold and silver that lies beyond the sea,
I'd take more joy and pleasure in your sweet company.

What maiden can believe you? You've said so much before.
Oh, the last time that I saw you, you said you'd come no more.
You went and courted Nancy, oh, the girl with the roving eye;
'Tis she I know you fancy, you cannot this deny.

I hew to what you say, my dear, I own and swear it is true;
I went and courted Nancy, but now I've come to you.
Why should it breed a faction between my love and I?
'Tis you I'll own I fancy, with you I'll live and die.

These words they did revive her and pierced her to the heart,
Saying, We will have a wedding today before we part.
The weather being cheerful, to church this couple passed,
And now they are got married: Long looked-for come at last.


Secondly, a version with a different melody. I'm sure this Irish setting is a later development in the life of the ballad because the extra syllables inserted to make it fit the new tune have led to much pleonasm. Cathal McConnell recorded it as the title track of the album Long Expectant Comes at Last (2000), where he writes that he got it "from Big John McManus, who learned it from his mother, Katie McManus."

As sung by Cathal McConnell

Oh, as I went out one morning down by a clear riverside,
I heard a couple talking; this fair maid she did reply:
Oh, you most ungrateful Johnny, oh, how could you treat me so?
You promised for to marry me, but now I find it isn't so.

If I promised for to marry you, I'd scorn, love, to break my vow.
I was so disappointed, love, I was not ready until now.
Oh, had I all the riches that e'er was gained on land or sea,
I'd spend it all in pleasure, darling Molly, in your company.

Oh, how can I believe you? You promised me such times before,
But when I thought I had you, you went and you came no more.
You went and courted Nancy, the lassie with the roving eye;
She's all your joy and fancy, how can you then this deny?

These words this fair maid spoken had grieved this young man's tender heart.
He says, We'll have a wedding, love, and this, my love, before we part.
Hand in hand they walked together and to the church they both went fast.
This couple they got married, and long expectant comes at last.