This song was first made known by the Copper family (seen in the video) who released a recording of the traditional Christmas song on a 1971 recording A Song For Every Season. It is supposed to have originated in the area of Sussex, but there isn’t much research into the history of this lovely carol with some similarity to the shape-note/Sacred Harp tradition found in the United States.
A very Merry Christmas to you all!
Shepherds Arise/Sing, Sing All Earth
Shepherds arise, be not afraid, with hasty steps repair,
To David’s City sin on earth,*
With our blest infant there. x3
Sing, sing all earth! Sing sing all earth, eternal praises sing!
(To our redeemer) to our redeemer and our heavenly King.
Laid in a manger, view the Child. Humility divine.
Sweet in our senses, meek and mild
Grace in his features shines! x3
For us the Savior came on earth. For us His life he gave.
To save us from eternal death,
And to raise us from the grave. x3
*There is some confusion and discussion over this line. Many sources now believe this line is more properly “See the maid” as maid and afraid rhyme, and the sentence “See the maid with our blest infant there” makes grammatical sense.
In this supernatural folksong, a beautiful, young, well-to-do maiden is confronted by her own mortality… literally.
From Mainly Norfolk:
The ballad Death and the Lady was collected in 1946 by Francis M. Collison from Mr Baker of Maidstone, Kent, and published in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd’s Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.
Waterson:Carthy sang Death and the Lady in 2002 with somewhat different verses on their fourth album, A Dark Light. Martin Carthy commented in the album’s sleeve notes:
Norma learned Death and the Lady from [the Cecil Sharp collection; One Hundred English Folk Songs(1916)]. It’s a dark song here and she did what was second nature to the Watersons in their heyday, transforming the tune by altering just a couple of notes.
Death and the Lady
As I walked out one day, one day
I met an aged man by the way.
His head was bald, his beard was grey,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay.
I said, “Old man, what man are you?
What country do you belong unto?”
“My name is Death—have you not heard of me?
All kings and princes bow down unto me
And you fair maid must come along with me.”
The Canadian “roots” trio The Wailin’ Jennys have included this English folksong on their latest recording 40 Days. According to notes collected on Mainly Norfolk , the song was recording Cecil Sharp’s collection Folksongs of Somerset having learned it off a Mr. Thomas Henry of Ilminster. It’s also found George Butterworth’s addition to the 1907 edition of the Journal of the Folk Song Society, which is where the band Steeleye Span learned it, and their version is likely the source for the Jennys’ interpretation.
The Saucy Sailor
Come my own one, come my fair one
Come now unto me
Could you fancy a poor sailor lad
Who has just come from sea?
You are ragged love, you are dirty love
And your clothes smell much of tar
So be gone you saucy sailor lad
So be gone, you Jack Tar