MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Dying Soldier Boy
Alphonse Sutton NFLD 2 Tape 3 Track 3
Trepassey Audio:

Leach: All right let her go

Alphonse: (sings) Its of three jolly butcher boys a journey took one day

(speaks) no that’s too bad …it’s all fooled up. Now, hold on till I think it over.

(sings) It’s of three jolly butcher boys a journey took one day
They swore they’d gain 10,000 pounds upon the queen’s highway

(speaks) I don’t know sir I got it all fooled up now

(voices in background speaking at once)

Leach: All right now try it.

Alphonse: (sings)
The sun was fast declining down evening’s valley shade
Where lie the dead and dying at the close of once a day
The saddest sight that ever I saw when on the fields of gore
Was a young and handsome Irish lad who’s straight from Erin’s shore

His cheeks were like the roses red and his hair like threads of gold
And they laid him down to slumber where the Indian waters flowed
His brother raised him in his arms tears down his cheeks did flow
Saying brother dearest brother it is hard to see you go

Have you no kindly message to send to the ones that you like dear
To that young and handsome Irish girl that dwells on Erin fair
He cried give me some water then listen to what I’ll say
For tomorrow you’ll go marching back to old Erin far away

Tell my mother that I thought on her in the thickest of the fray
When bullets were falling round I never forgot to pray
Tell my father that I bravely fought with my face turned to the foe
I never thought on turning back straight onward I did go

Till a German soldier shot me down and left me in my gore
I long to see old Erin fair that bright and happy shore
There is one more request dear brother take to that girl across the way
To pick of bunch of shamrocks green and to place them on my grave

Tell her it was my last request ere I lay down to die
Kiss me brother once again, kiss me and then good-bye
His brother raised him in his arms saying thy will it shall be done
And they laid him down to slumber as the battle it was won

They dug for him a narrow grave and marked it well with care
Then they started out on their lonely march back to old Erin fair.


Sources: Brown II 228, ("The Dying Soldier to His Mother"); Fuson, pp. 108-109, ("The Dying Soldier"); Roud #6568; Laws J7

From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: (also known as "The Dying Ranger," "The Valley of Killbride" and "Battle fields of Sunny France") Firestone, Melvin MUNFLA 64-17; Lear, William Henry MUNFLA 66-10; Casey, George MUNFLA 68-40; Wareham, Wilfred MUNFLA 70-8; Power, Mary Cornelia MUNFLA 71-26; Halpert, Herbert MUNFLA 71-50; Slaney, Madona MUNFLA 71-121; Halpert, Herbert MUNFLA 72-4; Rosenberg, Neil V. MUNFLA 72-11; Broderick, Martina Mary MUNFLA 72-238; Dawe, Audrey L. MUNFLA 73-89; Reid, William Jo. MUNFLA 73-93; Merrigan, Francis Patrick MUNFLA 74-83; Power, Neil Patrick MUNFLA 74-178; West, Eric MUNFLA 78-236; Goldstein, Kenneth S. and A. O'Hara and Gerald Thomas and H. Rowlings MUNFLA 78-239; MacEachen, Ronald MUNFLA 78-264

History: Irish ballad also found in Newfoundland, Canada and the United States.

Text : A young Irish soldier is making his last requests to his brother as he is dying on the battlefield.   He wishes to send messages of love to his mother, father and beloved back in Ireland.

Tune: This slow quadruple tune is performed with rhythmical flexibility.   The form is ABAB and the tonality is major.

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.