Sing a song of Maytime

Mary Humphreys

Every May 1st until the late 1950s pupils at Swaffham Prior were given a half holiday to celebrate  May Day.  Girls would get their favourite doll  and place it in a shoe box, surrounding it with flowers picked on the day. They would then go from door to door , singing a song . They would often be given coppers to spend on sweets and treats.

Enid Porter wrote down only the words of the song in her notebooks.

Sing a song of Maytime
Sing a song of spring.
Flowers are in their beauty
Birds are on the wing.
Maytime, playtime
God has given us Maytime
Praise him for his gifts of love
SIng a song of Spring.

An appeal for further information in the parish magazine led to Mrs Sandra Butcher who had been a pupil of Swaffham Prior school to contact me and describe in detail the tradition that she remembered. A friend of hers, Mrs Ruth Stinton was able to sing the song for me and I have transcribed it.
Mrs Stinton remembered that the song was from Carey Bonner’s School Songbook that was used in the school.

Both Mrs Butcher and Mrs Stinton came to the performance given by pupils of Years 3-6 from Swaffham Prior at St Cyriac’s Church on April 30th 2014 and can be heard singing along with the children who performed it towards the end of the evening.

Swaffham Prior school's Performance at St Cyriac's April 30th 2014
See also