Tune of the Day: Early One Morning
This 16th century ballad is one of the best-known traditional folksongs in Britain, but little is known of its origins. The lyrics are first found in publications as far back as 1787, but it was only with William Chappell's publication in his National English Airs of circa 1855 that the well-known melody was first printed. In his later Popular Music of the Olden Time Chappell mentioned “Early One Morning” as “one of the three most popular songs among the servant-maids of the present generation”. Some scholars believe the melody may be derived from an earlier song, titled “The Forsaken Lover”.
The folk song has been used in a number of well-known arrangements, for example by the English composer Benjamin Britten and the Australian composer Percy Aldridge Grainger. Until 2006, it formed the opening bars of the "Radio 4 UK Theme" by Fritz Spiegl, which was played every morning on BBC Radio 4. The tune has also appeared in a number of television programmes, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and films, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the 1960 Disney film Pollyanna.