The English and Scottish Popular Ballads/Part 3/Chapter 55

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AS I passed by a river side,
And there as I did reign,
In argument I chanced to hear
A Carnal and a Crane.
The Carnal said unto the Crane,
If all the world should turn,
Before we had the Father,
But now we have the Son!
'From whence does the Son come,
From where and from what place?'
He said, In a manger,
Between an ox and ass.
'I pray thee,' said the Carnal,
'Tell me before thou go,
Was not the mother of Jesus
Conceivd by the Holy Ghost?'
She was the purest virgin,
And the cleanest from sin;
She was the handmaid of our Lord
And mother of our king.
'Where is the golden cradle
That Christ was rocked in?
Where are the silken sheets
That Jesus was wrapt in?'
A manger was the cradle
That Christ was rocked in:
The provender the asses left
So sweetly he slept on.
There was a star in the east land,
So bright it did appear,
Into King Herod's chamber,
And where King Herod were.
The Wise Men soon espied it,
And told the king on high
A princely babe was born that night
No king could eer destroy.
'If this be true,' King Herod said,
'As thou tellest unto me,
This roasted cock that lies in the dish
Shall crow full fences three.'
The cock soon freshly featherd was,
By the work of God's own hand,
And then three fences crowed he,
In the dish where he did stand.
'Rise up, rise up, you merry men all,
See that you ready be;
All children under two years old
Now slain they all shall be.'
Then Jesus, ah, and Joseph,
And Mary, that was so pure,
They travelld into Egypt,
As you shall find it sure.
And when they came to Egypt's land,
Amongst those fierce wild beasts,
Mary, she being weary,
Must needs sit down to rest.
'Come sit thee down,' says Jesus,
'Come sit thee down by me,
And thou shalt see how these wild beasts
Do come and worship me.'
First came the lovely lion,
Which Jesus's grace did bring,
And of the wild beasts in the field
The lion shall be king.
We'll choose our virtuous princess
Of birth and high degree,
In every sundry nation,
Whereer we come and see.
Then Jesus, ah, and Joseph,
And Mary, that was unknown,
They travelled by a husbandman,
Just while his seed was sown.
'God speed thee, man,' said Jesus,
'Go fetch thy ox and wain,
And carry home thy corn again
Which thou this day hast sown.'
The husbandman fell on his knees,
Even upon his face:
'Long time hast thou been looked for,
But now thou art come at last.
'And I myself do now believe
Thy name is Jesus called;
Redeemer of mankind thou art,
Though undeserving all.'
'The truth, man, thou hast spoken,
Of it thou mayst be sure,
For I must lose my precious blood
For thee and thousands more.
'If any one should come this way,
And enquire for me alone,
Tell them that Jesus passed by
As thou thy seed did sow.'
After that there came King Herod,
With his train so furiously,
Enquiring of the husbandman
Whether Jesus passed by.
'Why, the truth it must be spoke,
And the truth it must be known;
For Jesus passed by this way
When my seed was sown.
'But now I have it reapen,
And some laid on my wain,
Ready to fetch and carry
Into my barn again.'
'Turn back,' says the captain,
'Your labor and mine's in vain;
It's full three quarters of a year
Since he his seed has sown.'
So Herod was deceived,
By the work of God's own hand,
And further he proceeded
Into the Holy Land.
There's thousands of children young
Which for his sake did die;
Do not forbid those little ones,
And do not them deny.
The truth now I have spoken,
And the truth now I have shown;
Even the Blessed Virgin
She's now brought forth a son.