MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Hush a Bye

John James NFLD 2 Tape 10 Track 4
Trepassey Audio:

As I roved out on one cold winters evening
Down by a large garden where I chanced for to stray
And I was resolved for to visit my uncle
And I was prevented by coId sleet and rain

The wind it kept blowing continually snowing
I set meself down beneath a green tree
And to my surprise I heard somebody speaking
Sayin' hush-a-bye baby, hush-a-bye baby

I drew somewhat nigh her with cold shades all 'round me
Looking about to see what I could see
Twas there I beheld a poor distressed woman
With a babe on her bosom and one on her knee

Oh hey there she cries is there no consolation
Are there no mercy in humanity
My babes are asleep and they'll cry when they waken
Then hush-a-bye baby, hush-a-bye baby

I says my good woman were you ever married
Oh who is the father of those children small
Oh have you no home or no place of residing
Or if you were wealthy what caused your downfall

Its three years ago since we had been married
We were lawfully married with our parents consent
We lived in a place, which was called Newtonbury
And never before did I cause to lament

On the twenty-ninth day of last March he was going
Out on his farm his cattle to see
But its little he thought he would never return
For to hear his poor wife sayin' hush-a-bye baby

As he was a-walking along the highway
A great crowd of p'licemen he chanced for to see
They were p'licemen and bowmen with guns and great firearms
And also a great crowd of those prisoners

What little he thought of their wicked intention
He made no delay but went on speedily
And those cruel villains they ended their victim
They put him to sleep with hush-a-bye baby

Oh it happened to be but a few short days later
The landlord he came and he stood on the floor
He demanded his rent before it was due him
And pay it l should or get out of the door

I spent all my money to bury my husband
I buried him decent as plain you may see
But all l did say it was all of no purpose
He gave me the door with hush-a-bye baby

She lifted the child she held to her bosom
Her voice it grew speechless her eyes they grew dim
l instantly ran and caught her in my arms
Cheer up my good women come home long with me

But all l did say it was all of no purpose
Her last dying word was hush-a-bye baby
I next went to call on the help of my neighbours
To bring this woman to some resting place

And after preparing for funeral service
I next went and got her two children ________
It wasn’t worthwhile to go to such trouble
For they once had a man that was loving and kind

The very same day they parted their mother
They went the next night with hush-a-bye baby


Text : A man encounters a widow by a tree lulling her two young babes to sleep.   She explains that her husband was killed by a band of policeman and prisoners. Having spent her rent money on funeral expenses her landlord evicted the family.   The widow dies by the tree sing "hush-a-bye baby." The man sees to her funeral and takes in the babies, who die the following night.   Opening line/phrases "As I roved out..."

Tune : Through composed text with repeated melody.   The final word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song.   The meter is 6/8 although extra beats are inserted by breaths between lines. The key is B major with a range of a minor 10 th (A# - C#).

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