English Folk-Carols/The Moon Shines Bright

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1. The moon shines bright and the stars give a light
A little before it is day;
Our Lord our God he called on us
And bids us awake and pray.

2. Awake! O awake! good people all,
Awake! and you shall hear,
Our Lord our God He suffered on the cross
For us whom He loved so dear.

3. The fields were green, as green could be.
When we from His glory fell;
And we His children then were brought
To death and near to hell.

4. The life of a man it is but a span,
It's like a morning flower;
We're here to day, to-morrow we are gone,
We are dead all in one hour.

5. O teach them well your children, dear man.
While you have got them here;
It will be better for your soul, dear man
When your corpse lies on the bier.

6. To-day you may be living, dear man,
With a many thousand pound;
To-morrow you may be dead, dear man,
And your corpse lie underground.

7. With the green turf at your head, dear man.
And another at your feet;
Your good deeds and your bad, dear man,
Will all together meet.

8. My song it is done and I must be gone,
No longer can I stay here.
God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a happy New Year.

Cecil Sharp's note[edit]

Sung by Mrs. Gentie Phillips, a native of Tysoe, Warwickshire, now) living at Birmingham.

This carol and The Sinner's Redemption (No. 8), together with many others were sung every Christmas by the Tysoe carol singers.

With the exception of the 3rd stanza the words given in the text are those which Mrs. Phillips and her sister, Mrs. Handy, sang to me. The 3rd stanza, which Mrs. PhilHps could only partially remember, is from a version noted several years ago at East Harptree, Somerset. In another variant which I collected in Kent this stanza runs as follows:—

In yonder garden green doth grow,
As green as any leek;
Our Lord our God He waters us
with His heavenly dew so sweet.

Other versions with tunes are printed in The Folk-Song Society's Journal, Sussex Songs, English County Songs, Shropshire Folk-Lore, Songs of the West, and Carols New and Old (Bramley and Stainer); with words only, in Sandys's Christmas Carols, etc., and on broadsides by Evans, Thompson and others.[1]


  1. Ibid., pp. 62-63

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