The Postman’s Knock

The Postman’s Knock

Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman’s knock

What a wonderful man the postman is
As he hastens from door to door
What medley of news his hands contain
For high, low, rich or poor
In many a face he joy can trace
As many a grief he can see
But the door is open to his loud rat-tat
And his swift delivery

Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman’s knock

Number one he presents with news of a birth
With tidings of death number 4
At 13 a bill of terrible length
He drops through a hole in the door
Now a cheque or an order for 15 he brings
For 16 his presence to prove
For 17 doth an acknowledgement get
And 18 a letter of love

Every morning as true as the clock
Somebody hears the postman’s knock

The Postman’s Knock is the result of a collaboration between LM Thornton (words) and WT Wrighton (music) in c1860. Extensive notes on the song may be found in SJ Fitz-Gerald’s Stories of Famous Songs, Vol 1 (1901). According to Fitz-Gerald:

Lewis Maunsell Thornton was born at Oxford, 1822. He was a simple versifier all his life, and in later times lived largely on the reputation of his one song. He used to tramp about the country selling a volume of his own lyrics, and by this means and by occasionally getting a guinea or so for a ballad, he managed to exist. His book was called “The Poetic Gift of Friendship.” His last successful song was ” Sing, Birdie, Sing.” Thornton died in the infirmary of the Bath Union, whence he had been conveyed from the hospital after a painful operation. He had few friends, but certainly a good one in Mr Jones-Hunt (generally known as the Bath poet), who did much to assist Thornton in many ways. It is interesting to add that the author of “The Postman’s Knock” was carried to the grave by four postmen in uniform, while four others acted as pall-bearers, out of pure sympathy and kindness of heart. Mr. Jones-Hunt generously attended to the funeral expenses.

I’m afraid I know very, very little about William Thomas Wrighton (1816-1889). He appears to have been a professional composer, of considerably higher status than Thornton. His most celebrated song (with lyricist JE Carpenter) was a somewhat schmaltzy little number called ‘Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still’ (here’s an instrumental recording from 1908). Wrighton may have been English, but spent some time in the USA, or vice versa.

Like some, or many, popular Victorian songs, The Postman’s Knock found its way to the country folk, and was adopted and adapted by morris sides, particularly the Adderbury Morris Men of northern Oxfordshire.

 

The Jones Boys play highly accomplished traditional music from Ireland, England, Scotland, Brittany, Sweden, Bulgaria …

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