Lyke Wake Dirge (The)

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LYKE-WAKE DIRGE. English, Slow March or Air (Dirge). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. According to the entry in Simpson & Roud's Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore (2000), the song was "sung at wakes in Yorkshire up to 1616 by women who came specially for the purpose" (see Aubrey (1686/1880: 31-2):

It is both a prayer for the dead, with the refrain 'Christ receive thy soul', and an account of the soul's journey to Purgatory across Whinney-moor, a heath covered in gorse, and the Bridge of Dread. Only those who in life have given shoes or drink to the poor can pass through unhurt.

Words to the tune go:


This ae night, this ae night
Every night and a'
Fire and sleet and candle lighte,
And Christ receive thy saule (soul)

When from hence away art past
Every ...etc.
To whinny moor thou com'st at last
And ...etc.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon
Sit thee down and put them on.

If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gav'st nane
The whinnies shall prick thee to the bare bane.

From whinny moor when thou may'st pass
To Brig o' Dread thou com'st at last.

From Brigg o' Dread hence thou mayst pass,
To Purgatory fire thou com'st at last,

To purgatory fire thou comst at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

If ever thou gavest meat or drink
The fire shall never make thee shrink.

If meat or drink thou ne'er gav'st nane
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane.

This ae night, this ae nighte
Fire and sleet and candle lighte.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources: The Young Tradition (1966). Buffy Saint-Marie.

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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