Barbara Allen

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In London town where I was born,
And where I got my learning,
Sweet William Green took to his bed,
For love of Barbara Allen.

2. He sent her letters with his man,
She read them small and moving,
No better shall ye be,
Ye'll not have Barbara Allen.

3. As she walked down the road to home,
She saw his hearse a-comin',
"Oh, lay him down upon the ground,
That I may gaze upon him.

4. Oh, mother, mother make my bed,
Oh, make it long and narrow,
Sweet William died for love today,
I'll die for him tomorrow."

5. They buried her by the old church tower,
Him they laid beside her,
And from her grave grew a red, red rose,
And from his grave a briar.

6. They grew to top the old church tower,
They could not grow no higher,
And there they twined in a true lover's knot,
Red rose around the briar.

or In Scarlet town where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin'
Made every youth cry Well-a-day,
Her name was Barb'ra Allen.

2. All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin'
Young Willie Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barb'ra Allen.

3. He sent his man unto her then
To the town where he was dwellin'
You must come to my master, dear,
If your name be be Barb'ra Allen.

4. So slowly, slowly she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when there she came:
"Young man, I think you're dying!"

5. He turned his face unto the wall
And death was drawing nigh him.
Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Bar'bra Allen.

6. As she was walking o'er the fields,
She heard the death bell knellin',
And ev'ry stroke did seem to say,
Unworthy Barb'ra Allen.

7. When he was dead and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow.
"Oh mother, mother, make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow."

8. And on her deathbed she lay,
She begged to be buried by him,
And sore repented of the day
That she did e'er deny him.

9. "Farewell," she said, "ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in,
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barb'ra Allen."


Samuel Pepys in his "Diary" under the date of January 2nd 1665, speaks of the singing of "Barbara Allen." The English and Scottish both claim the original ballad in different versions, and both versions were brought over to the US by the earliest settlers. The version used here is the English one. The tune is traditional.

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