Dalesmans Litany – from Hull Hell and Halifax

The Dalesman’s Litany is a folk song about industrial change and the problems of moving from the land to the industrially revolutionised Yorkshire towns.
The farmworker receives an ultimatum from the farmer, and he leaves the land to find work in the industries of Yorkshire. There was reason for this, on a farm cheap board went with the job, but there was no room for a wife and family. He is told bluntly ‘stay single, or leave with your lass.’ But the young farm hand didn’t want to lose his lass. So the young man leaves with his wife to be, and heads for the city. The story unfolds:

 

Book Cover

Dalesmans Litany
1
It’s hard when folks can’t find th’work
Weer they’ve been bred and born;
When I were young I allus thowt
I’d bide ’midst royits and corn.
But I’ve been forced to work in t’owns,
So here’s my litany:
From Hull and Halifax and Hell,
Good Lord deliver me.
2
When I were courtin’ Mary Jane,

T’old squire he says, one day,
I’ve got na bield for wedded folk,
Choose will ta wed or stay,
I could na give up t’lass I loved,
So t’town we ’ad to flee:
From Hull and Halifax and Hell,
Good Lord deliver me.
3
I’ve worked i’ Leeds an’ ’Uddersfield
And addled honest brass.
At Bradford, Keighley, Rotherham,
I’ve kept me bairns an’ t’lass,
I’ve travelled all three Ridings round
And once I went to sea:
From forges, mills and coilin’ boats,
Good Lord deliver me.
4
I’ve walked at neet through Sheffield loyns
’Twere same as bein’ i’ hell
Where furnaces thrust out tongues of fire
And reared like t’wind on t’fell.
I’ve sammed up coils t’ Barnsley pits
Wi’ muck up to my knee:
From Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotheham,
Good Lord deliver me.
5
I’ve seen fog creep across Leeds brig
As thick as Bastille soup.
I’ve lived weer folks were stowed away
Like rabbits in a coup.
I’ve seen snow float down Bradford Beck
As black as ebony:
From Hunslet, Holbeck, Wibsey Slack,
The Good Lord delivered me.
6
Well now when all us childers fligged,
To t’country we’ve come back,
There’s forty mile a heathery moor
Twixt us an’ t’coilpits’ slack.
And as I sit by t’fire at neet,
Well I laugh and shout wi’ glee:
From Hull and Halifax and Hell,
Good Lord deliver me.

Unknown but update version by Dave Keddie / Moorman