Introduced by April Grant
I first heard “Katie Catch” from Boston-area singer Gus Reid. He learned it from the singing of Fay Hield, who revived it and, I believe, slightly rewrote/combined versions from the book The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland Volume 2 by Alice Bertha Gomme, and from Iona and Peter Opie’s Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. It’s the kindest of songs, about sweethearts deciding to get married, and looking forward to all the good things that they’ll do together.
When I hear this song, from Gus, Fay Hield, or most recently from Rhode Island singer Cate Clifford, I almost always burst into tears. I’m not the only one, I’ve noticed. None of us can explain it except to say, “It’s so beautiful!” or “It’s the one where everything is OK!” In a genre where tragic endings and complaints make for the most gripping songs overall, sometimes our hearts cry out for one where nobody has to die and we can watch everything go well for a change.
Listen to Fay Hield sing the song on the album “Old Adam” on Spotify, or listen on YouTube below.
Lyrics as sung by Fay Hield:
Down in yonder meadow where the green grass grows,
Little Katie Catch goes a-washing of her clothes,
She sang, and she sang, and she sang so sweet,
Come over, Johnny Walker, come over the street.
Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Katie Catch, come draw the latch
And sit by the fire and sing,
Take up a cup and fill it up
And let the neighbours in.
Little Katie Catch she made a pudding nice and sweet,
Young Johnny Walker took a spoon for to eat.
Taste love, taste love, don’t say no,
Tomorrow we’ll be married, to the church we will go.
Bedding sheets and pillow slips and blankets and all,
A little baby on your knee and that’s the best of all.
A guinea, a guinea, a guinea gold ring,
Come take me to the church and hear the little choir boys sing.
A guinea gold ring and a peacock hat,
A penny for the church and a feather for his cap.
She paints her cheek and he curls his hair,
She kisses Johnny Walker at the foot of the stair.
April Grant writes: I’m a singer and songwriter who lives in the Boston area. During the pandemic I’ve been letting out my urge to perform by doing the occasional show over Zoom. I also write short stories and poetry. I dunno, dude, words are fun.