“The Pace-Egging Song”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1893 (Broadwood)
Keywords: Easter drink nonballad religious
Found in: Britain(England(Lond))

Description

We have come pace-egging; give us eggs and beer and we'll not come till next year. A British tar who served with Nelson has returned to England pace-egging. A lady has run from her country and is here to collect eggs in a basket and drink neat gin.

Notes

Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 16" - 13.9.02: "Pace-Egging customs were once common throughout north-west England (the word Pace, meaning Peace, may be derived from the French word Pasque, which means Easter) and this song is used as an introduction to an accompanied Mummer's Play." - BS

(Yates's derivation of "pace" is oversimplified. Most agree that "pace" is from Middle English "paschal" -- which does clearly derive from either a late Latin or an early French root. But it's not a word for "peace"; it's derived ultimately from the Greek root underlying "passion." Nonetheless the idea of "peace" may be mixed in somehow. The Latin for peace is "pax," and one of the most familiar of all Latin liturgical phrases is surely "pace [pronounced, in Church Latin, 'pach-ay'] vobiscum," "peace to you." Of course, none of this has anything to do with the actual custom of pace-egging.)

Depending on the version, quite a few characters show up to beg for their eggs and beer, starting with Lord Horatio Nelson himself. For Nelson, see e.g. "Nelson's Victory at Trafalgar (Brave Nelson)" [Laws J17], which in some ways is similar to this in structure. We also meet (Vice Admiral) Lord (Cuthbert) Collingwood, Nelson's second-in-command at Trafalgar, and sundry anonymous sailors who arelisted as serving under Nelson. - RBW

Recordings

References

  1. DT, PACEEGG*
  2. Roud #614
  3. BI, RcPaceEg