Tune collected by Cecil Sharp from Louie Hooper at Hambridge,
Somerset, 28th December 1903. Text adapted mainly from that of
William Pittaway at Burford Oxon 19th May 1923.
Twas in the merry month of May
When small birds they were singing
A young man on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barb'ry Ellen
He sent his servant to the town
To the place where she was dwelling
Saying "You must come to me master dear
If your name be Barb'ry Ellen"
And slowly slowly got she up
And came where he was lying
And when she looked on his pale face
Said , "Young man I think you're dying"
"Oh no, Oh no I'm not dying yet,
One kiss from you will cure me".
"One kiss from me you will never get
So fare you well, Sweet Willie".
"Then look you over the side of me bed],
You'll see me waistcoat hanging,
There's my gold watch and my silver chain,
Go take them Barb'ry Ellen".
And she looked over the side of his bed
And saw his waistcoat hanging
"O they'll be mine but I'll not be thine,
So fare you well for ever!"
As she was a going across the fields
She heard the death bell knelling
At every stroke it seemed to say
"Hard-hearted Barbr'y Ellen."
And as she was a-going through the town
She saw the corpse a-coming
"O put him down you six young lads
That I might well gaze on him."
And the more she gazed the more she smiled
Until she burst out laughing
Her parents cried "For shame ! For shame!
Hard-hearted Barb'ry Ellen"
"Then mother mother go make my bed
Go make it long and narrow.
Sweet Willie died for me today
I'll die for him tomorrow."
Sweet Willie was buried in the church
And Ellen in the choir
Out of his bosom there grew a red rose
And out of hers a briar.
And they grew 'til they reached the church steeple top
'Til they could grow no higher
And there they entwined in a true lovers' knot
The red rose round the briar.
As sung my Mary Humphreys on album "Sharp Practice" (Wild Goose
From Mary Humphreys and Anahata's web site