When Jones’s Ale Was New


h1 June 1st, 2012

This marks the 200th song in the Folk Den!

“When Jones’s Ale Was New” is a popular drinking song from Olde England, circa 1594. The first printed version was entered at Stationer’s Register in 1595, “a ballet intituled Jone’s ale is newe’, entered by John Danter. It appears in Thomas D’Urfey’s Pills to Purge Melancholy,1707 edition, vol III, no. 133, and in Vol V in 1719, as The Jovial Tinker, with the tune. William Chappell quoted this introduction, from a broadside collection in the Bodleian Library: All you that do this merry ditty view.
 Taste of Joan’s ale, for it is strong and new.

The full title was: “Joan’s ale is new; or a new, merry medley, shewing the power, the strength, the operation and the virtue that remains in good ale, which is accounted the mother drink of England.”

Also know as: When Johnson’s Ale Was New / When Jones’s Ale Was New

[ Roud 139 ; Ballad Index Doe168 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang “When Johnson’s Ale Was New” in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs. He commented in the sleeve notes:

“Here and there at Easter time, the “Jolly-boys” or “Pace-eggers” go from house to house, singing songs and begging for eggs. They wear clownish disguises: the hunch-backed man, the long-nosed man, the fettered prisoner, the man-woman etc. Johnson’s Ale (or John’s or Joan’s) is one of their favourite songs. Whether the drinking song comes from the pace-egging version or the other way round, we do not know. It is an old song. Ben Johnson knew it and mentioned it in his 16th century Tale of a Tub. Its qualities are durable, for it has altered little in 350 years. It appeals most to those who are most elevated.”

Some say this song derives its name from the pub owner, Davy Jones, who would put drunken sailors into his ale locker and sell them as crew to passing ships; hence the phrase “Davy Jones Locker.”

Or it could possibly refer to good natured Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org UNC Chapel Hill.

Lyrics:
[C] Come all you honest labouring men that work hard all the day,
And join with me at the Barley Mow to [Dm] pass an hour [G] away,
Where we can sing and drink and be merry,
And [F] drive away all our cares and worry,
[C] When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale was [C] new.

And they ordered their [G] pints of beer and bottles of sherry
[F] To carry them over the [C] hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale [C] was new.

The first to come in was the Ploughman with sweat all on his brow,
Up with the lark at the break of day he guides the speedy plough,
He drives his team, how they do toil,
O’er hill and valley to turn the soil,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come was the Blacksmith his brawny arms all bare,
And with his pint of Jones’s ale he has no fear or care,
Throughout the day his hammer he’s swinging,
And he sings when he hears the anvil ringing,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Scytheman so cheerful and so brown,
And with the rhythm of his scythe the corn he does mow down,
He works, he mows, he sweats and he blows.
And he leaves his swathes laying all in rows,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Tinker and he was no small beer drinker
And he was no small beer drinker to join the jovial crew,
He told the old woman he’d mend her old kettle,
Good Lord how his hammer and tongs did rattle,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

Now here is Jones our Landlord a jovial man is he,
Likewise his wife a buxom lass who joins in harmony,
We wish them happiness and good will
While our pots and glasses they do fill,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

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