Sung by Charley Williams of Brockweir and recorded by Bob Patten and Andrew Taylor in 1977
Listen to Charley Williams singing the song at British Library Sound Archive
This carol has been collected in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, as it was printed and circulated on various ballad sheets, including The Good Christmas Box in 1847. Its words are typical of many 19th Century carols in giving stern warnings to people to change their wicked ways. The version here was sung by Charley Williams of Brockweir, recorded on 19 October 1977 by Bob Patten and Andrew Taylor.
Charley’s memory failed him on the words, so we used a similar 14 verse copy in the Bodleian Library to complete Charley’s 3 verses. Another more complete song was collected on January 11th 1899 by Miss W. Norbury from Mr William Phillips and family, Leigh, Worcestershire, as follows:
Have you not heard of our dear Saviour’s love?
And how he suffered like a harmless dove?
But if we in our wickedness remain
Christ will not shed his blood for us again
If you were going to be put to death,
It would be hard to find a friend on earth
Who would lay down his life to set you free,
Yet Christ with patience shed His blood for me.
Consider what our Lord did undergo,
For to preserve us from the gulf of woe;
Repent in time, your wickedness remain
Christ will not shed His blood for us again.
To love each other, as we ought to do,
Is God’s command, although it’s kept by few;
For little love can in this world be found,
Nothing but spite and malice doth abound.
There is a thing which Scripture plainly shows,
To pray for them which are our greatest foes
And if you ever wish to enter heaven,
You must forgive as you would be forgiven.
‘Tis very apt in some to curse and swear,
But let us now persuade you to forbear,
And do no more abuse the name of God,
Lest He should smite you with His heavy rod.
The sin of drunkenness leave off in time.
For that’s another sad, notorious crime
Lead sober lives, and lay that sin aside
Nay, likewise too, that odious sin of pride.
Some make their riches as their god, I know,
And on the poor they nothing will bestow.
‘Tis good to help the poor in their distress,
Relieve the widow and the fatherless.
Attend thy church, the Sabbath don’t neglect;
All work by Scriptures well thy path direct,
And ever let it be thy constant care
To serve the Lord by daily fervent prayer.
Some do by gaining lose their whole estate,
And then are sorry, when it is too late.
‘Tis better to live in darkness here on earth,
Than lose the light of heaven after death.
Now, one thing more I to you wish to say:
Your tender parents honour and obey.
‘Tis they took care to bring you up, indeed,
You ought to help them in their time of need.
So now I will conclude, and make an end,
For these few lines which are sincerely penned
Now buy the book, the price is very small
God grant it may be for the good of all
[Notes by Gwilym Davies October 2012]