English Folk-Carols/As I sat on a Sunny Bank

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English Folk-Carols by [[Author:Anonymous|Anonymous]]
As I sat on a Sunny Bank
an English folk carol. The three versions of the text were performed to and collected by Cecil Sharp by folk singers in Gloucestershire] and Worcestershire

First version[edit]


1. As I sat on a sunny bank,
As I sat on a sunny bank,
As I sat on a sunny bank,
On Christmas Day all in the morning.

2. I saw three ships come sailing home,
I saw three ships come sailing home,
I saw three ships come sailing home
On Christmas Day all in the morning.

3. Who do you think were in those ships?
Who do you think were in those ships?
Who do you think were in those ships?
On Christmas Day all in the morning?

4. Christ and His Mother were in those ships,
Christ and His Mother were in those ships,
Christ and His Mother were in those ships
On Christmas Day all in the morning.

Second version[edit]

1. As I sat on a sunny bank,
A sunny bank, a sunny bank,
As I sat on a sunny bank
On Christmas Day in the morning.

2. I saw three ships come sailing by,
Come sailing by, come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by
On Christmas Day in the morning.

3. And who d'you think were on the ship.
Were on the ship, were on the ship.
And who d'you think were on the ship
But Joseph and his Fair Lady.

4. O he did whistle and she did sing.
And all the bells on earth did ring
For joy our Saviour Christ was born
On Christmas Day in the morning.

As I sat by my old cottage door[edit]

Alternative words to "As I sat on a Sunny Bank", second version.

1. As 1 sat by my old cottage door,
Old cottage door, old cottage door,
As I sat by my old cottage door
On Christmas Day in the morning.

2. I saw three ships come sailing by,
Come sailing by, come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by
On Christmas Day in the morning.

3. I asked them what they had got in them.
Had got in them, had got in them,
I asked them what they had got in them
On Christmas Day in the morning.

4. They said they'd got their Saviour there,
Their Saviour there, their Saviour there.
They said they'd got their Saviour there
On Christmas Day in the morning.

5. I asked them where they were taking Him to.
Taking Him to, taking Him to,
I asked them where they were taking Him to
On Christmas Day in the morning.

6. They said they took Him to Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
They said they took Him to Jerusalem
On Christmas Day in the morning.

7. I asked them what they would do with Him there.
Do with Him there, do with Him there,
I asked them what they would do with Him there
On Christmas Day in the morning.

8. They said that they would Him crucify,
Him crucify, Him crucify.
They said that they would Him crucify
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Cecil Sharp's note[edit]

Nos. 12 & 13. AS I SAT ON A SUNNY BANK.

(Three versions)

The first version was sung to me by a whilom resident of Wootton-under-Edge (Gloucestershire).

The first version was sung to me by a whilom resident of Wootton-under-Edge (Gloucestershire) as it was performed by the children of that village many years ago. The words are given without alteration.

The second and third versions were sung, respectively, by Mrs. Beachy and Mr. Grimmet at Shipston-on-Stour (Worcestershire).

The second and third versions were sung, respectively, by Mrs. Beachy and Mr. Grimmet at Shipston-on-Stour (Worcestershire). Mr. Grimmet's words are printed exactly as he sang them; one small change has been made in Mrs. Beechy's words — "were" for "was" in the third stanza.

The tune of the second version will be recognised as a variant of the well known "Nancy Dawson" air. Mr. Grimmet, having presumably forgotten the proper air, sang his words to the hymn tune "Sun of my Soul".

The words of the second version are almost exactly the same as those printed on a broadside by Wadsworth of Birmingham. The text of the third version is different from all the published versions that I have seen.

The carol is very widely known. Traditional versions with tunes may be seen in Sandys, Bramley and Stainer, English County Songs and elsewhere.

Ritson in his Scotch Songs (I, p. civ) quotes the following lines, and says that they were sung during the Christmas holidays about the middle of the sixteenth century:—

There comes a ship far sailing then,
Saint Michel was the stieres-man;
Saint John sat in the horn:
Our Lord harped, our Lady sang,
And all the bells of heaven they rang.
On Christ's sonday at morn.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. Ibid., p. 65
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.