sunset July 2020

Scarborough Fayre / Fair & Canticle – The REAL Full Version – Song and Article.

I looked, I honestly did, but couldn’t find the full version absolutely anywhere which led me to do the song myself, however, as soon as someone records a better version, let me know so I can remove my croaky offering, cheers. My version is okay and I noticed my Devonshire accent escaping occasionally over my London drone.

This is for my old maths and music teacher – Mr Roberts, sadly killed in a ferry accident in the 1980’s. He taught at Derby Middle School in West Germany where myself and many other happy children attended a combined forces education facility. There were problems but generally it was a great school with fantastic teachers. He was an amazing teacher but I could not get the canticle part of this song…it bugs me. I digress…

All ten verses are here, original as I can find them. You will notice some changes from the successful version made by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1970’s popular music scene but I reckon you’ll love the original. Please let me know what you think in the comments or by contact. I did a video with the words so one can sing along underneath,

Scarborough Fayre

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Remember me to one who lives there

For once she was a true lover of mine


Tell her to make me a cambric shirt

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Without a seam or needlework

Then she shall be a true lover of mine


Tell her to wash it in yonder well

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Where never spring water or rain ever fell

Then she shall be a true lover of mine


Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Which never bore blossom since Adam was born

Then she shall be a true lover of mine


Now he has asked me questions three

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

I hope he’ll answer as many for me

Before he shall be a true lover of mine


Tell him to buy me an acre of land

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Between the salt water and the sea sand

Then he shall be a true lover of mine


Tell him to plough it with a ram’s horn

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

And sow it all over with one pepper corn

And he shall be a true lover of mine


Tell him to sheer’t with a sickle of leather

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

And bind it up with a peacock feather

And he shall be a true lover of mine


Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

And never let one corn of it fall

Then he shall be a true lover of mine


When he has done and finished his work

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Oh tell him to come and he’ll have his shirt

And he shall be a true lover of mine.


**then repeat the last line or just finish….


Below is how it sounds being sung by me…it’s copyright free. Paul Simon took this song and made it his but he does not own the copyright. No one owns copyright on Traditional British Songs…they are our culture. Anyone can perform them.


Enjoy…me singing the Scarborough Fayre song…without the canticle.

As you can see it is not about two lovers…it is an unsuccessful attempt.

There is a canticle to this song too…it slides in on certain lines FOR A REASON…I’m unable to sing the canticle at the same time of the main song as they occupy the same space in time but I’m looking at some software which would allow me to do this at home – even more reason for someone with sweeter vocals to take the reigns…

The canticle is written like this…

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green

Tracing a sparrow on snow crested ground

Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountains

Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves

Washes the graves with silvery tears ( I feel there is a word or two missing from this line…)

A soldier cleans and polishes a gun (these next four lines are dubious and don’t fit the flow, I cannot find original yet)

War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions

Generals order their soldiers to kill

And to fight for a cause they will long ago have forgotten (- this line feels right, but doesn’t flow from the previous)

*****************here is their version for your remembering

So, I feel the canticle was extended by Simon and Garfunkel. I could be wrong but the first six lines of the canticle say it all, without the following four…I think they just wanted to make ten lines to attempt to make an enchanting song over an already spellbinding song that they butchered and lost the meaning to.

Simon and Garfunkel even missed the chance to remedy the situation in the extended version of Scarborough Fair, at over ten minutes long, but they did not include all ten original verses and changed words and lines. However, without them actually performing the song it may have been forgotten to time, who knows? So, I thank them.

As you can see there are a lot of signs and symbols within the song of Scarborough Fayre/Fair with nod to other icons in our ancient history. It is important to understand the small changes and hold on to the original value.

This song is full of female empowerment. It tells this man, this chancer, that as he is looking for a free ride, he can bugger off but in nice way. He is looking for something for nothing and she is telling him no chance.

The sparrow is a very complicated icon, seen on the Pyramids but rarely taken much notice of. It is a native british bird, currently under major threat of demise in England over the last few decades with numbers increasing a little last year but no where near the figures of birds we used to have.

There is mention of the Holly tree… and more and I could go on and on but I mainly wanted to sing the full version for your entertainment, I hope you enjoyed the song’s clever banter, as that is what being a Brit is all about.

Thank you reading, always grateful.


    • Thanks, you are a proper kind gent. Bizarrely, my search for the canticle part of scarborough fayre is still ongoing. I’ve had correspondance with yorkshire folk song group who didn’t have a copy of the original of Scarborough fayre up on their site. They are quite annoyed at my suggestion that Simons may have changed things with the canticle part but it’s obvious he did. He only used four ten verses of the original scarborough fayre and weaved the canticle in counterpoint to just three of those… he did use a song which he’d written but again he wove it into the original tune and words. I’ll keep looking for that original set of words.