Wife of Usher's Well, Lyric Variant 03


“Wife of Usher's Well, Lyric Variant 03,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 24, 2024, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/31928.

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Wife of Usher's Well, Lyric Variant 03


This item is part of the I. G. Greer Folksong Collection which consists of more than 300 individual song titles and their variants as collected by Isaac Garfield Greer (1881-1967) from informants, primarily in Ashe, Wilkes and Watauga counties. The collection includes manuscripts, typescript transcriptions produced by Dr. Greer’s clerical staff, and handwritten musical notations. Songs range from traditional Child Ballads, traditional English and Scottish ballads as well as their American variants, to 19th century popular music to musical compositions of local origin.


Ballads, English
Ghosts--Songs and Music
Mothers--Songs and Music
Children--Songs and music

Alternative Title

There was a Lady in Merry Scotland, Three Babes, The Three Little Babes, Lady Gay, Lady Gray, There was a Lady, The Three Little Babs, The Lady and the Children Three, The Three Poor Little Children, Moravian Song, The Lone Widow, A Ballad of the Return of the Dead, Lady Grey


W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University


Greer, I. G. (Isaac Garfield), 1881-1967


Song texts






The Wife of Usher’s Well
Lady Gray or Three Little Babes.
(A Balad of the Return of the Dead)

There was a lady of beauty rare,
And children she had three,
She sent them away to the North Countree,
To learn their grammarree.

They hadn’t been gone so very long,
Scarcely three months and a day,
When there came a sickness all over the land,
And swept them all away.

And when she came this for to know,
She wrung her hands full sore,
Saying alas' alas! What shall I do,
For I’ll never see my babes any more.

Ain’t there a king in Heaven ,she cried,
Who used to wear a crown?
I pray the Lord will me reward,
And send my three babes down.

It was a comin’ near Christmas time,
And the nights were long and cold,
When her three little babes came running down
To their dear mother’s home.

She set a table for them there,
All covered with cakes and wine,
And said come eat, my dear little babes,
Come, eat and drink of mine.

We do not want your cakes, Mammee,
We do not want your wine,
For in the morning by the break of day,
With our Savior you must dine.

She fixed them a bed in the backmost room,
All spread o’er with clean white sheets,
And on the top a golden one.xx
That they might soundly sleep.

Take it off, take it off, Mammee, they said,
Take it off we say again.
A woe, a woe to this wicked world,
So long since pride began.

Cold clods lie at our heads, Mammee,
Green grass grows at our feet,
The tears come running down your cheeks
To wet our winding sheet.

Rise up, rise up, said the oldest one,
I hear the rooster crow,
Oh, yonder stands our Savior dear,
And to him we must go.

Scholarly Classification

Child, 79. Brown, Older Ballads - Mostly British - 25 Randolph. 19 Cox 14 Combs 22. Sharp 22

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