On Ilkley Moor Baht ’at

(On Ilkley Moor Without a Hat Yorkshire’s “National Anthem”)

 

All in all an early ecological ballad celebrating the food chain,

or on the other hand something to embarrass a young courting couple

who happened to get caught out!

While Shepherds Watched

To the Tune Cranbrook written by Thomas Clark

 

Carols

 

 

 

Bishop Beaver College Glee Club

 

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly... Fa la la la la... la la la laIn 1805 a hymn tune called Cranbrook was composed by a cobbler of Canterbury, Thomas Clark. A hundred years later it was still being sung in Wesleyan [Methodist] Chapels at Christmas time to While Shepherds watched their flocks by night It was originally composed as a setting for While Shepherds Watched. Only later did it become more familiar for On Ilkley Moor Without a Hat.

According to tradition, the members of a Halifax Wesleyan [Methodist] Church were picnicking beneath the Cow and Calf rocks, after their annual walk across the moors from Dick Hudson’s, when two of their party disappeared into the bracken.  On their return to the main group, a member of the choir bellowed out “Wheer wor ta bahn when ah saw thee?” “Tha’s bin a-courtin’ Mary Jane”, commented another.  Further lines in common metre were contributed until the choir burst naturally into the tune Cranbrook.

Over the years, more verses have been added, and it has been accepted as Yorkshire’s “National Anthem”

From the New Oxford Book of Carols regarding While Shepherds Watched p144 - Tune V, now universally known as Cranbrook, is one of the earliest and certainly the best known of the enormous number composed by the remarkable cordwainer (shoemaker) and musician Thomas Clark, who became the leading Dissenting composer of the late Georgian period. The setting we give is the earliest we have found... We prefer this to the blander revisions that the composer made for successive publications.  It is better known throughout the English speaking world to the Yorkshire words On Ilkley Moor Baht at.

 

Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee...

                             ...ah saw thee
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?
Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw...

Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw...

Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?

Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane...

                               ...Mary Jane
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Tha's been a cooartin'...

Tha's been a cooartin'...

Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd...

                             ...deeath o'cowd
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath...

Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath...

Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd
Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then we shall ha' to bury thee...

                           ...bury thee
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then we shall ha' to bury...

Then we shall ha' to bury...

Then we shall ha' to bury thee
Then we shall ha' to bury thee
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop...

                                    ...eat thee oop
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Then t'worms 'll cum and...

Then t'worms 'll cum and...

Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop
Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms...

                                ...eat oop t'worms
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop...

Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop...

Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms
Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks...

                            ...ate oop ducks 
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Then we shall go an' ate oop...

Then we shall go an' ate oop...

Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks
Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

Then we shall all 'ave etten thee...

                              ...etten thee
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
Then we shall all 'ave etten...

Then we shall all 'ave etten...

Then we shall all 'ave etten thee
Then we shall all 'ave etten thee
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

[The last verse was added some time later to the original...]

That's wheer we get us oahn back...

                                 ...oahn back
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
That's wheer we get us oahn...

That's wheer we get us oahn...

That's wheer we get us oahn back
That's wheer we get us oahn back
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

The song On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at (Baht = without, 'at = hat) originated as the result of a choir taking an outing on Ilkley Moor. The moor is in Yorkshire near Leeds and Bradford (and not anywhere near Hull). Ilkley Moor is part of a larger region of moorlands known as Rombalds Moor which also contains the area where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote. The moor is very similar to those described in Wuthering Heights, and pictured in many films of the same. In other words, it can be very wild and windswept in poor weather (actually, it is very pleasant on a hot sunny Summer's day).

Rombalds Moor was the home of Giant Rombald, who used to throw large stones across the moor. Some of these landed at the edge of Ilkley Moor and later became a well known landmark and a popular picnic spot for residents of Bradford and Leeds, who could travel by train to Ilkley, and then hike up the hill to the moor.

The song was inspired by two members of the choir disappearing off from the main party for a kiss and cuddle (or some such similar activity). Somebody from the choir penned the words, and fitted them to a tune previously used for the Christmas carol, While Shepherds Watched.

The story is translated and paraphrased for an international audience...
 

Where have you been since I last saw you...

                                       ...I last saw you.
I've been courting Mary Jane.
on Ilkley Moor without a hat *


You are certain to catch your death of cold.
...Then we shall have to bury thee.
...Then the worms will come and eat thee up.
...Then the ducks will come and eat up the worms.
...Then we shall come and eat up the ducks.
...Then we shall all have eaten thee!

 

*   and presumably without any other warm protective clothing ;-)


 

While Shepherds Watched was definitely the song which it was used for by the choir in question. While Shepherds Watched is still sung to that tune along with about twenty other tunes during the South Yorkshire Carols, in the region to the West of Sheffield during weeks leading up towards Christmas.

While shepherds watched