The Miner's Dream of Home
Fred Whiting sang The Miner's Dream of Home in a 1986 recording made in Kenton, Suffolk by John Howson. This recording was included on the Veteran CD It Was on a Market Day and on the Free Reed anthology Midwinter: A Celebration of the Folk Music & Tradition of Christmas & the Turning of the Year. Mike Yates commented in the Veteran CD booklet:
"The words to this extremely popular song were written by the Music Hall singer Leo Dryden (1863-1939), with music by Will Godwin. According to Music Hall specialist Tony Barker, “Dryden must immediately have realised the song's immense appeal for, in an Era advert, dated 31st October, 1891, he announced it as a ‘song that will be sung in every home where the mother tongue is spoken’. The rousing melody and sentimental lyrics telling of a homesick prospector dreaming of ‘England's valleys and dells’, certainly made such an impact with the British public that it passed almost at once into the canon of popular song. Dryden claimed that Francis, Day and Hunter paid £20, the most they had paid up to that time, for the publication right. Its fame was so great that it was remembered long after the name of its singer had been forgotten. Such was Dryden's eventual eclipse that, after the First World War, he sang the song in the streets unrecognised.” Dryden made a cylinder recording of The Miner's Dream of Home in 1898 (Berliner E2013). Fred Whiting always said that it was his favourite song."
Lyrics: It is ten weary years since I left England's shore, In a far distant country to roam, How I long to return to my own native land, To my friends and the old folks at home! Last night, as I slumbered, I had a strange dream, 'Twas a dream that brings distant friends near, I dreamt of old England, the land of my birth, To the heart of her sons ever dear! Chorus (after each verse): I saw the old homestead, and the faces I loves, I saw England's valleys and dells; And I listened with joy, as I did when a boy, To the sound of the old village bells. The log was burning brightly, 'Twas a night that should banish all sin, For the bells were ringing the old year out And the new year in. As the joyous bells rang, out I wended my way To the cot where I lived as a boy; I gazed in the window—Yes! there, by the fire, Sat my parents!—my heart filled with joy. The tears trickled fast down my bronzed, furrowed cheek, As I gazed on my mother so dear, I guessed in my heart she was raising a prayer For the son whom she dreamt not was near! At the door of the cottage we met face to face, 'Twas the first time for ten weary years; Soon the past was forgotten,we stood hand in hand, Father, mother, and wand'rer in tears! Once more in the fire-place the oak log burns bright, As I promised no more would I roam; As I sat in the old vacant chair by the hearth, And sang that dear song, "Home, Sweet Home!"