The Joys of Mary

Version 1 – The Twelve Joys of Mary sung by Joseph Evans of Old Sodbury and words from Keziah Hawkins of Old Sodbury and collected by Cecil Sharp 1907

Manuscript as collected and for singing    MIDI for singing

Contemporary recording by TarranWatson  C05_TranRecord_JoysOfMaryTG271

Version 2 – The Seven Joys of Mary sung by Dick Parsons of Cheltenham and recorded by Gwilym Davies in 1979.

Listen to Dick Parsons singing the song  Archive Recording

Manuscript as collected and for singing   MIDI for singing 

Contemporary recording by Puzzlejug Contemporary version – Puzzlejug 

The enumeration in song of Mary’s joys perhaps goes back to the 14th Century with the Joyes Fyve of the Sloane manuscripts.  In collected versions, the number of joys can vary from seven to twelve.  The theme of the Joys of Mary is a common one in medieval literature and art.  The Five Joys of Mary are mentioned in the 14th Century epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The words appeared on 19th Century broadsides and many versions have been collected, notably in south and west England and the USA, but also in Canada and Northern Ireland.  There is also a version in Irish Gaelic entitled Seacht Suailci na Maighdine Muire.

Note by Gwilym Davies November 2011