The Bitter Withy

As it fell out on a high holiday,
Small rain from the sky did fall,
Sweet Jesus asked of his own mother dear
Whether he might play at ball.

"To play, to play, dear child," she did say,
"It's time that you had been gone,
But don't let me hear complaints about you
At night when you do come home."

Now our Saviour walked down unto yonder town,
As far as the Holy, Holy Well,
And there he met three of the finest children
That ever any tongue could tell.

"Good morn, good morn, good morn," said they.
"Good morning," then said he, said he,
"Now which of you three fine children
Will play at ball with me?"

"Oh, we are lords' and ladies' sons,
Born in a bowery hall;
And you are but a maiden's child
Born in an oxen stall."

Now our Saviour built a bridge with the beams of the sun,
And over the water ran he, ran he,
And the three jolly children, they followed after him,
And drownded they were, all three.

Then upward ball, and downward ball,
Their mothers, they did wall and squall,
Saying, "Mary Mild, fetch home your child,
For ours, they are drownded all."

Then Mary Mild picked a handful of withies
And laid our dear Saviour across her knee,
And with that handful of small withy twigs
She gave him slashes three.

"Oh, cursed be to the bitter withy,
That has caused me to smart, to smart,
And that shall be the very first tree
That shall perish right at the heart."

© Golden Hind Music