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:

  • Antique photo of Seth Davy, a bearded man entertaining children with wooden puppets. May 2024: Seth Davy
    Submitted by Dave Para

    The song is also known by “Whiskey on a Sunday” or “Come Day, Go Day.” Liverpool folksinger Glyn Hughes wrote it in 1959 after hearing stories from older people who remembered seeing Davy in the 1890s.

    Originally a sailor from Jamaica, Seth Davy became a fixed character on the streets of Liverpool entertaining, especially young children, dancing his three homemade dolls on a plank. He sang the minstrel song “Massa Is a Stingy Man,” with the chorus, “Sing come day go day, God send Sunday, we’ll drink whiskey all the week, and buttermilk on Sunday.”

    The place and idioms in the lyrics reference Liverpool, but Irish singers have sung the song often with words changed to reference Dublin.

    Listen to John Roberts and Tony Barrand singing “Seth Davy:”

    See English singer Christopher Lawley essentially re-enacting Seth Davy:

    Sheet music for "Seth Davy"
    Download the sheet music for “Seth Davy.”

    Lyrics: Seth Davy or Come Day, Go Day

    By Glyn Hughes

    Come day, go day
    Wish in my heart for Sunday
    Drinking buttermilk all the week
    Whiskey on a Sunday.

    He sat on the corner of Bevington Bush
    Beside an old packing case
    And the dolls on the end of his plank went a-dancing
    As he crooned with a smile on his face:

    The tired old man drummed the wooden beam
    His dolls, they danced the gear
    A better old show as you’ve ever seen
    At the Pivvy or the New Brighton Pier:

    In 1902 old Seth Davy died
    His song was heard no more
    The three dancing dolls in the jowler bin ended
    And the plank went to mend the back door:

    But on some stormy nights down old Scotty Road way
    With the wind blowing in from the sea
    You can still hear the song of old Seth Davy
    As he croons to his dancing dolls three:

    Dave Para is a folksinger from Missouri and now from New Mexico, who with his late wife, Cathy Barton, danced the limberjack for children many, many times. He used information from a Mudcat thread and Secondhand Songs for this article.

Past Songs