The Wife of Usher's Well

Scotland would seem to be the birthplace of this ballad, though, like many of the Child ballads, it has flourished better on this side of the Atlantic. Our variant of this ballad (a rare English one) was transcribed by Ralph Vaughan Williams from a phonograph recording of a Mrs. Loveridge of Dilwyn.

There lived a lady in merry Scotland,
And she had sons all three,
And she sent them away into merry England,
To learn some English deeds.

They had not been in merry England
For twelve months and one day,
When the news came back to their own mother dear,
Their bodies were in cold clay.

I will not believe in God, she said,
Nor Christ in eternity,
Till They send me back my own three sons,
The same as they went from me.

Old Christmas time was drawing near,
When the nights are dark and long,
This mother's own three sons came home,
Walking by the light of the moon.

And as soon as they reached to thei rown mother's gate,
So loud at the bell they ring,
There's none so ready as their own mother dear
To loose these children in.

The cloth was spread, the meat put on;
"No meat, Lord, can we take;
It's been so long and so many a day
Since you our dinner did make."

The bed was made, the sheets put on;
"No rest, Lord, can we take;
It's been so long and so many a day
Since you our bed did make."

Then Christ did call for the roasted cock,
Feathered with His holy hands,
He crowed three times all in the dish,
In the place where he did stand.

He crowed three times all in the dish,
Set at the table head,
"And isn't it a pity," they all did say,
"The quick should part from the dead.

"So farewell stick, farewell stone,
Farewell to the maidens all,
Farewell to the nurse that gave us suck,"
And down the tears did fall.

© Golden Hind Music