Come Haste to the Wedding

The tune Come Haste To The Wedding is also known as Haste to the Wedding, Come Haste, Haste To The West, Haste Ye Tae The Wedding, Hasten To The Wedding, Hasten To The Wedding Mary, Rural Felicity, The Rules of Felicity, Fast Trip To Reno, Quick Trip To Reno, Gigue Des Petits Moutons, Green Mountain Volunteers, The Long Eight, Perry’s Victory, Footprints, Granny Plays the Fiddle, Trip to the Dargle, A Trip to the Gargle, Let Brainspinning Swains, The Small Pin Cushion, Carrickfergus, Thurot, and (our favorite) Cut Your Toenails You’re Tearing All The Sheets.

This tune was introduced as the melody of a song in the stage show “The Elopement”, produced in London in 1767. The lyrics to the song are at the bottom of this post.  There are many country dances that have been written to this tune, and it is a common fiddle favorite.

There are three versions of this country dance that were written (and have survived) from the 18th century.  Many more dances have been written to this very popular tune.  There is a version of Come Haste to the Wedding written in an unpublished manuscript by the Revolutionary war soldier George Bush, compiled between 1779-1789. Here are his original instructions, that can be found in Social Dances from the American Revolution by Hendrickson and Keller, 1992.

Right hands across with second couple, Slip down one
couple out side, left hands across with third couple, slip
up to top outside, cross over one couple turn Partner half round
lead up to top, cast off one couple, lead thro the bottom
cast up one couple turn yr. partner & foot it out.

There is also a version of Rural Felicity found in Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. III, published in London in 1773.

Here are the original instructions in Thompson:

First and second Cu: right hands across and
cast down one Cu: left hands across with the 3d.
Cu.: cast up cross over one Cu: figure in with the
top figure thro’ the 3d. cast up & turn your partr.

There is a copy found in the Clement Weeks collection of the dance Rural Felicity, as published in Contra Dances from New Hampshire 1783, Keller and Fogg, 2012. Below are the original instructions:

Turn right hands with your
partner & cast off turn left
hands & cast back again hands
4 with 2d. cou. Cross over
2 Cou. & lead up 1 cou., set Corners,
lead out at the sides.

The dance from the Bush manuscript has the title “Come Haste to the Wedding” while the dances in the Thompson and Weeks collections have the title “Rural Felicity”. In spite of this, it seems clear that the Bush and Thompson dances are versions of the same dance, while
the dance from the Weeks collection is a distant cousin of the other two. For one thing, the Bush and Thompson dances both fit to 32 bars of music, while the Weeks dance has too many figures to fit into 32 bars. In interpreting the dance for the Wayside Innsteppers, the
issues were the following:

1) What is the phrasing of the stars?
2) Does the turn “slip” mean “chassee” as it does in modern usage?
3) Bush says “turn partner half round”, followed by “lead up to top, cast off one couple”, while Thompson says “figure in with the top”.  “Figure in with the top” would mean a half figure eight with the second couple. Is Bush trying to describe the same thing, or does he
really mean to do a half turn with partner first, and then lead up and cast around the second couple? A half figure of eight could be done in four bars of music, whereas a half turn followed by leading up and casting off could not possibly be done in that amount of time.
4) Bush says to turn your partner and foot it out at the end of the dance. Is there time for a turn and some footing steps at this point in the dance?

After considering all these questions, and trying out various versions, here is how we are dancing this dance at the Wayside Inn:
Come Haste To The Wedding (Triple Minor Longways)

A1: Ones right hand star with twos (6 bars, three pas de bourrees)
Ones chassee down the outside one place, twos moving up (2 bars)
A2: Ones left hand star with threes (6 bars, three pas de bourrees)
Ones chassee up the outside one place, twos moving down (2 bars)
B1: Ones cross, go below one, twos moving up (4 bars)
Ones half figure eight up through the twos (4 bars)
B2: Ones half figure eight down through the threes (4 bars)
Ones two hand turn halfway (2 bars)
Ones set to partner (2 bars)

Here is a more modern contradance that I sometimes call for this
dance at the balls in Sudbury in January and April:

Haste To The Wedding (Duple minor contra. Can be danced either proper or improper)

Circle left, Circle right
Star right, Star left
Dosido partner, clap twice, turn (or swing) with partner
Dosido neighbor, clap twice, pass through, bow to new neighbor

The original lyrics to this tune are:

“Haste to the Wedding/Rural Felicity”

Come haste to the wedding ye friends and ye neighbours,
The lovers their bliss can no longer delay.
Forget all your sorrows your cares and your labours,
And let every heart beat with rapture today.
Come, come one and all, attend to my call,
And revel in pleasures that never can cloy.
Come see rural felicity,
Which love and innocence ever enjoy.

Let Envy, Let Pride, Let Hate & Ambition,
Still Crowd to, & beat at the breast of the Great,
To Such Wretched Passions we Give no admission,
But Leave them alone to the wise ones of State,
We Boast of No wealth, but Contentment & Health,
In mirth & in Friendship, our moments employ
Come see rural felicity,
Which love and innocence ever enjoy.

With Reason we taste of Each Heart Stirring pleasure,
With Reason we Drink of the full flowing Bowl,
Are Jocund & Gay, But ‘tis all within measure,
For fatal excess will enslave the free Soul,
Then Come at our bidding to this Happy wedding,
No Care Shall obtrude here, our Bliss to annoy,
Come see rural felicity,
Which love and innocence ever enjoy.

 

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