John Barleycorn (Traditional)

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  • (Posted 2012-06-25)  CPDL #26600:  Icon_pdf_globe.gif Icon_snd_globe.gif
Editor: Adriano Secco (submitted 2012-06-25).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 88 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: John Barleycorn

Composer: Anonymous (Traditional)

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularFolksong

Language: English
Instruments: Unknown

First published:

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

There were three men came out of the west their fortunes for to try,
And these three made a solemn vow: "John Barleycorn should die."

They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clouds upon his head,
And these three made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time till the rain from heaven fall,
Then little Sir John sprung up his head, and soon amazed them all.

They let him stand till mid-summer till he looked both pale and wan;
And little Sir John he growed a long beard and so became a man.

They hired men with the scytes so sharp to cut him off at the knee;
They rolled him and tied him by the waist, and served him barbarously.

They hired men with the sharp pitchforks who pricked him to the heart,
And the loader he served him worse than that, for he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him round and round the field till they came unto a barn,
And there they made a solemn mow of poor John Barleycorn.

They hired men with the crab-tree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he served him worse than that, for he ground him between two stones.

Here's little Sir John in a nut-brown bowl, and brandy in a glass,
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl proved the stronger man at last.

And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor so loudly blow his horn
and the tinker he can’t mend kettles or pots without a little Barleycorn.