Hush-O-Bye, Baby (MacEdward Leach)

As I roved out on a fine summer morning,
Down by a green forest I carelessly strayed;
And I, bein' intended to visit some neighbours,
But I was prevented by cold heavy rain.

The wind it blew high and tremendously raining,
I sat myself down there beneath a green tree;
When to my surprise I heard somebody talking,
Repeating those words saying, hush-o-bye, baby.

And I, bein' surrounded with low shades all 'round me,
I drew a little nigher to know what I see;
When to my surprise 'twas a poor distressed widow,
With a babe in her arm and two by her knee.

Oh, heavens, she cries, is there no consolation,
Or is there no reason in humanity?
My babes they are sleepin', they'll cry when they waken,
Sayin', hush-o-bye, baby, hush-o-bye, baby.

I said, my good woman, were you ever married,
Or where is that father of your children small?
Or have you no home or a place of residence,
Or if you be wealthy what caused your downfall?

Oh, yes, my good man, I was once really married,
My husband he's dead and it's plain you may see:
He left me forlorn to wander those valleys,
Sayin', hush-o-bye, baby, hush-o-bye, baby.

The twenty-ninth day of last March, as my husband
Went out in his meadow his cattle to see,
It was little thought that he ne'er would return again,
To hear his poor wife sing hush-o-bye, baby.

As he was a-walking and viewing his cattle,
A great crowd of people he chanced for to see;
Those yeomen and policemen with their guns and firearms,
Likewise the great troop of the cavalry.

It was little he thought on their wicked intention,
He made no delay but passed on speedily;
But those cruel traitors soon made him their victim,
And left me alone to sing hush-o-bye, baby.

The very next day after burying my husband,
That cursed cruel landlord walked in on my floor,
Demanding the rent and before he'd return again,
And pay it I should or walk out in the door.

I spent all my money in burying my husband,
I spent all my money, it's plain you may see;
But all that I said then it proved all conjure, sir,
He gave me the door to sing hush-o-bye, baby.

It's seven long years since we both met together,
And married we were with our parents consent;
We lived in that place that they called Newtownbarry,
But never till now had I cause to lament.

I quickly replied but she made me no answer,
I saw a great change in her countenance and sea;
She let fall the baby she held in her arms,
Her tongue it was useless and her eyes they looked dim.

I quickly ran and caught her in my arms,
Sayin', cheer up, my good woman, come home 'long with me;
But all that I said, and she made me no answer,
Her last dying words were hush-o-bye, baby.

I quickly ran for the help of some people,
To bring this poor woman to some neighbour's house;
And after providing the funeral charges,
I sent her three children in care of a nurse.

But 'twas hardly worthwhile for to go to such trouble,
For they once had a nurse who was loving and free;
For that very night they all died like their mother,
And went the same road to sing hush-o-bye, baby.

####.... Author unknown ....####
Collected in 1951 from John (Jack) C Molloy [1864-1955] of St Shott's, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected in 1951 from John James [1903-?] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was collected in 1974 from Catherine (Kitty ) O'Shaughnessy [1899-1997] of Kingman's Cove, Fermeuse, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #54, Hush-oh-bye Baby in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.97-99; edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003)

Anita Best noted that this is a song which originated in Ireland where, in the 19th century, evictions of poor tenant farmers unable to pay rent were extremely common. Very often, following an eviction by the local sheriff and his men, the cottage would be destroyed to prevent the family from returning, leaving them totally homeless. Anita Best further noted that she learned this song from Mrs O'Shaugnessy whose father, William O'Donnell, had sung it to his children as a lullaby.

See more Lehr and Best songs.


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