Join us each month in song!

Since 2016—our designated Year of Song—CDSS has featured a traditional song each month. Lorraine Hammond spearheaded this effort, and it was such a popular feature that Judy Cook volunteered to continue the tradition in 2017 and beyond. 

Note: Many of these old songs should be looked at as “fairy tales for adults” in that they often address very strong, and sometimes scary, subject matter. They allow us to deal with difficult situations and emotions with the distance afforded by putting it in a song. They are cautionary tales, and had their use as such.


This month’s song:

  • Roxana Robinson sits on a stone porch in an autumn landscape February 2024: I Wonder When I Shall Be Married
    Submitted by Derek Piotr

    I recently collected a version of “I Wonder When I Shall Be Married” from famed writer Roxana Robinson, at her home in North Cornwall, Connecticut. While the song is primarily attributed to the Ritchie family of Viper, Kentucky, Roxana had learned it from her family in Pine Mountain, and sings it to a different tune.

    The song is strangely neutral in tone: the lyrics speak of hope and anticipation, yet the overall tone of the song is melancholic and open-ended.

    This song also has the distinction of being the seven hundredth song I have recorded for my Fieldwork Archive!

    Hear Roxana Robinson sing “I Wonder When I Shall Be Married:”

    Sheet music for "I Wonder When I Shall Be Married"
    Download the sheet music for “I Wonder When I Shall Be Married.”

    Lyrics

    I wonder when I shall be married,
    Be married, O be married,
    I wonder when I shall be married,
    For my beauty’s beginning to fade.

    My mother she is so willing,
    So willing, O so willing,
    My mother she is so willing,
    For she has more daughters than I.

    My father has forty good shillings,
    Good shillings, O good shillings,
    My father has forty good shillings,
    And they will be mine when he dies.

    My shoes they have gone to be mended,
    Be mended, O be mended,
    My shoes they have gone to be mended,
    And my petticoat gone to dye green.

    And they shall be ready by Sunday,
    By Sunday, O by Sunday,
    And they shall be ready by Sunday,
    And then shan’t I look like a queen.

    O say, won’t I be a bargain,
    A bargain, O a bargain,
    O say, won’t I be a bargain,
    For someone to carry away.

    I wonder when I shall be married,
    Be married, O be married,
    I wonder when I shall be married,
    For my beauty’s beginning to fade.

    Derek Piotr is a folklorist, researcher and performer whose work focuses primarily on the human voice. His work covers practices including fieldwork, vocal performance, preservation and autoethnography; and is primarily concerned with tenderness, fragility, beauty and brutality. His work has been supported by The Traditional Song Forum and The Danbury Cultural Commission, and has featured on Death Is Not the End and the BBC. He recently launched the Fieldwork Archive.


Past Songs