Halloween Song Lyrics

This collection of stories and song lyrics was made for the season of Halloween and Samhain. More information about each of these songs and others as well can be found at Songs and Stories for Halloween and Samhain, which is at http://piereligion.org/hallsongs.html.

Proto-Indo-European Religion | Festivals, Food and Farming | Halloween and Samhain Songs

Jack o’Lanterns This file is in a simple format to make it easy for you to print it out, but it should be saved in Unicode or UTF-8 because some of the letters have diacritics. I ask that you not copy this webpage onto other sites on the internet because I plan to update it and add to it and I don’t want multiple copies floating around. However I encourage you to print it out and or to use it however you like as long as you don’t charge money for it. All of these songs are traditional and they are in the public domain as far as I know, except as noted.

Warning: this is a grim topic, not really suitable for small children.

The First Gargouille

The story of the First Gargoyle tells that a dragon lived in the marsh near the city of Rouen in France. Every day it ate the mariners or it caused flooding of the river Seine. St. Romain came and made the dragon stop by making the sign of the cross at it with his two index fingers. He was then able to lead it back to town on a rope. Then the poor dragon was killed and its body was burned, but since the head and neck wouldn’t burn (because they were used to fire, as the story tells), they were hung up on the side of the cathedral. This was the beginning of gargoyles, which are still used on churches to throw water away from the walls.

Myth of Ymir
Told in Old Norse and in English translation from the Grimnismal (“words of Grimr”), verses 40 and 41 in the Elder Edda.
Old Norse original:

Ór Ýmis holdi
var jørð um scøpvð,
en ór sveita sær,
bjørg ór beinum,
baðmr ór hári,
en ór hausi himinn.

En ór hans brøm
gerðu blíð regin
Miðgarð manna sonom;
en ór hans heila
vøru þāu in harðmoðgu
scý øll um scøpuð.

English translation:

Of Ymir’s flesh
the earth was fashioned,
And of his sweat the sea;
Crags of his bones,
trees of his hair,
And of his skull the sky.

Then of his brows,
the blithe Gods made
Midgard for sons of men;
And of his brain
the bitter-mooded
Clouds were all created.

The story is told in more detail in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, and the prose text of the Myth of Ymir is given in English on a separate page on this website because it is about four pages long. #cawline

Sir Cawline
The spelling is here “regularized” toward more standard English.

The king looked o’er his castle wall,
to his nobles one and all,
Says, where is it him Sir Colin,
I dinna see him among you all?

Up and spake an eldern knight,
Aye and even up spake he:
“Sir Colin’s sick for your daughter Janet,
He’s very sick and like to die.

“Win up, win up, my daughter Janet
I wat ye are a match most fine;
Take the baken bread and wine so red
And to Sir Colin you maun go.”

“How is my knight, all last night?”
“Very sick and like to die.
But if I had a kiss of your sweet lips
Here I would nae longer lie.”

She leant her down on his bedside.
I wat she gave him kisses three
But with sighing said that fair Janet,
“As for your bride I dare not be.

“Unless you watch the Orlange hill,
And at that hill there grows a thorn;
There ne’er came a living man from it,
Since the first night that I was born.”

“Oh I will watch the Orlange hill
Though I were thinking to be slain;
But I will give you some love tokens,
In case we never meet again.”

He gave her rings to her fingers,
So did he ribbons to her hair;
He gave her a brooch to her breast-bone,
For fear that they should ne’er meet more.

She put her hand in her pocket,
And she took out a long, long wand;
“As long’s any man this wand shall keep,
There shall not a drop of his blood be drawn.”

When even was come, and even-bells rung,
And all men bound for bed,
There beheld him Sir Colin,
Fast to the Orlange hill he rode.

The wind blew trees out at the roots,
So did it [blow] old castles down;
’Twas enough to fright any Christian knight,
To be so far from any town.

He rode up, so did he down,
He rode even through the land,
Till he spied a knight, with a lady bright,
With a bent bow until his hand.

She cried afar, ere she came near,
“I warn ye, kind sir, I reed ye flee;
That for the love you bear to me,
I warn ye, kind sir, that ye flee.”

They fought up, so did they down,
they fought even through the land
Till he cut off the king’s right hand,
’Twas set about with chains of gold.

“Hold your hand now, Sir Colin,
I wat you’ve done my love right sore;
Now for the love ye bear to me,
See that ye dint my love no more.”

He wooed, he wooed that fair Janet,
He wooed her and he brought her home;
He wooed, he wooed that fair Janet,
And call’d her Dear-Cost to her name.

The Workhouse Boy
Although this song refers several times to Christmas, it is much more appropriate to Halloween.

The clock was late in the workhouse halls.
Greatcoats hung on the white-washed walls.
The paupers all were blithe and gay
Deep in their Christmas holiday.

And we all of us say it
And we say it with sneers:
Jamie’s been murdered by the overseers.

When the master he said with a murderous leer,
“you’ll all get fat on your Christmas cheer”
and each by his looks he seemed to say
I’ll have some more soup on this Christmas day.

At length all of us to bed were sent.
A boy was missing; in search we went.
We sought him high and we sought him low,
We sought him with faces of grief and woe.

We sought him that hour and we sought him that night,
We sought him in fear and we sought him in fright.
When I heard a young pauper who then did cry,
“We’ll all have to starve until we find that boy.”

At length the soup copper repairs did need,
the coppersmith came and there he see’d
a pile of bones lay a-sizzling there,
and a leg of the britches the boy did wear.
Chorus (twice) #grimking

Grim King of the Ghosts

Grim King of the Ghosts, make haste,
And bring hither all your train;
See how the pale moon does waste,
And just now is in the wane.
Come you night-hags, with all your charms,
And revelling witches away,
And hug me close in your arms;
To you my respects I’ll pay.

I’ll court you and think you fair,
Since love does distract my brain:
I’ll go, I’ll wed the night-mare,
And kiss her, and kiss her again:
But if she prove peevish and proud,
Then, a pise on her love! let her go!
I’ll seek me a winding shroud,
And down to the shades below.

When thus I have raved awhile,
And wearied myself in vain,
I lye on the barren soil,
and bitterly do complain.
Till slumber hath quieted me,
In sorrow I sigh and weep;
The clouds are my canopy
To cover me while I sleep.

Grim King of the Ghosts, be true,
And hurry me hence away,
My languishing life to you
A tribute I freely pay.
To the Elysian shades I post
In hopes to be freed from care,
Where many a bleeding ghost
Is hovering in the air. #erlking

The Erl-King
poem by Sir Walter Scott

O who rides by night through the woodland so wild?
It is the fond father embracing his child;
And close the boy nestles within his loved arm,
To hold himself fast, and to keep himself warm.

“O father, see yonder! see yonder!” he says;
“My boy, upon what dost thou fearfully gaze?”
“O, ’tis the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud!”
“No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the cloud.”

The Erl-King speaks:
“O come and go with me, thou loveliest child.
By many a gay sport shall thy time be beguiled;
My mother keeps for thee many a fair toy,
And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy.”

“O father, my father, and did you not hear
The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?”
“Be still, my heart’s darling--my child, be at ease;
It was but the wild blast as it sang through the trees.”

The Erl-King speaks:
“O wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest boy?
My daughter shall tend thee with care and with joy:
She shall bear thee so lightly through wet and through wild,
And press thee, and kiss thee, and sing to my child.”

“O father, my father, and saw you not plain
The Earl-King’s pale daughter glide past through the rain?”
“Oh yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;
It was the grey willow that danced to the moon.”

The Erl-King speaks:
“O come and go with me, no longer delay,
Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away.”
“O father! O father! now, now, keep your hold,
The Erl-King has seized me--his grasp is so cold!”

Sore trembled the father; he spurr’d through the wild,
Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering child.
He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in dread,
But, clasp’d to his bosom the infant was dead.

Tam Lin
This version of the lyrics is from James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum

I forbid you maidens all
that wear gold in your hair
to travel to Carterhaugh
for young Tam Lin is there.

Them that go by Carterhaugh
but they leave him a pledge,
either their mantles of green
or else their maidenhead.

Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee
and she’s gone to Carterhaugh
as fast as go can she.

She’d not pulled a double rose
a rose but only two,
and up then came young Tam Lin
says, “Lady, pull no more.”

“And why come you to Carterhaugh
without command from me?”
“I’ll come and go,” young Janet said,
“and ask no leave of thee.”

Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee
and she’s gone to her father
as fast as go can she.

Well up then spoke her father dear
and he spoke meek and mild,
“Oh and alas! Janet,” he said,
“I think you go with child.”

“Well if that be so,” Janet said
“Myself shall bear the blame.
There’s not a knight in all your hall
shall get the baby’s name.”

“For if my love were an earthly knight
as he’s an elfin grey,
I’d not change my own true love
for any knight you have.”

Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee,
and she’s gone to Carterhaugh
as fast as go can she.

“Oh tell to me, Tam Lin,” she said,
“Why came you here to dwell?”
“The Queen of Fairies caught me
when from my horse I fell.”

“And at the end of seven years,
she pays a tithe to hell.
I so fair and full of flesh,
I’m feered it be myself.”

“But now tonight is Halloween
and the fairy folk ride.
Those that would their true love win,
at Milescross they must bide.”

“First let pass the horses black
and then let pass the brown.
Quickly run to the white steed
and pull the rider down.”

“For I ride on the white steed
the nearest to the town.
For I was an earthly knight,
they give me that reknown.”

“Oh, they will turn me in your arms
to a newt or an adder,
but hold me tight and fear not,
I am your baby’s father.”

“And they will turn me in your arms
into a lion bold.
But hold me tight and fear not,
as you will love your child.”

“And they will turn me in your arms
into a naked knight.
But cloak me in your mantle
and keep me out of sight.”

In the middle of the night,
she heard the bridle ring.
She heeded what he did say
and young Tam Lin did win.

Then up spoke the Fairie Queen,
And an angry queen was she.
“Woe betide her ill-far’d face,
An ill death may she die!”

“Had I known, Tam Lin,” she said,
“What this night I did see,
I’d have looked him in the eye
and turned him to a tree.”

Thomas the Rhymer
*Verses and chorus in version by Steeleye Span (long version) marked with an asterisk.

*True Thomas lay o’er yon grassy bank
and he beheld a lady gay,
A lady that was brisk and bold
Come riding o’er the fernie brae.

*Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantel of the velvet fine.
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

*True Thomas he took off his hat
and bowed him low down till his knee.
“All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
for your peer on earth I ne’er did see.”

*“O no, O no, True Thomas,” she says,
“That name does not belong to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,
And I’m come here for to visit thee.”

*For ye maun go wi’ me now, Thomas,
True Thomas, ye maun go wi’ me,
For ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro’ weel or woe as chance may be.”

*Chorus [only Steeleye Span]
Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!
Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!
Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!

*She turned about her milk-white steed,
And took True Thomas up behind,
And aye whene’er her bridle rang,
The steed flew faster than the wind.

*For forty days and forty nights
They rode thro’ red blood up to the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon
But heard the roaring of the sea.

*O they rade on, and further on,
and they rode faster than the wind
until they came to a desert wild
and living land was left behind.

O they rode on, and further on,
Until they came to a garden green:
“Light down, light down, ye lady free,
Some of that fruit let me pull to thee.”

“O no, O no, True Thomas,” she says,
That fruit maun not be touched by thee,
For a’ the plagues that are in hell
Light on the fruit of this countrie.”

But I have a loaf here in my lap,
Likewise a bottle of claret wine,
and now ere we go farther on,
We’ll rest a while, and we may dine.”

When he had eaten and drunk his fill,
“Lay down your head upon my knee.”
The lady said, “Ere we climb yon hill,
And I will show you fairlies three.”

*“O see not ye yon narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the path of righteousness,
Tho after it but few enquires.”

*“And see not ye that braid, braid road,
That lies across yon lillie leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Tho some call it the road to heaven.”

*“And see not ye that bonny, bonny road
Which lies about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where you and I this night maun gae.”

Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!
Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!
Come and go, come along with me, Thomas the Rhymer!

“But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever you may hear or see.
For gin aye word you should chance to speak,
You will ne’er get back to your ain countrie.”

He has gotten a coat of the elven cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were past and gone
True Thomas on earth was never seen.

King Orfeo
These lyrics are given in modern English based on the verses from Child #19 as it appears on Digital Tradition. They correspond closely to the way the song is sung by Alva, however Alva uses the Shetland taglines:
Scowan urla grun... “Green the wood grows early”
Whar giorten han grun oarlac... “Where the hart runs yearly”

There was a king lived in the East
Green the wood grows early
There lived a lady in the West
Where the hart runs yearly.

This king is to the hunting gone
And he’s left his lady Isabel alone.

“Oh, I wish ye’d never gone away,
for at your home is dole and woe.”

“The King of Faerie with his dart
Has pierced your lady to the heart.”

And after them the king has gone,
but where they came it was a grey stone.

Then he took out his pipes to play
But sore his heart with dole and woe.

First he played the notes of ’noy,
and then he played the notes of joy,

And then he played the good gabber reel,
That might have made a sick heart heal.

“Then come you in into the hall
And come you in among us all.”

Now he’s gone into the hall,
And he’s gone in among them all.

Then he took out his pipes to play
But sore his heart with dole and woe.

First he played the notes of ’noy
and then he played the notes of joy

And then he played the good gabber reel
That might have made a sick heart heal.

“Now tell to us what ye will hae
What shall we give you for your play?”

“What I will have, I will ye tell,
And that’s my Lady Isabel.”

“Ye take your lady and you go home,
And ye shall be king o’er all your own.”

He’s taken his lady and he’s gone home,
And now he’s king o’er all his own.

Short Soul-Cake Song

A soul, a soul, a soul cake,
please good Missus, a soul-cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for him who made us.
A soul, a soul, a soul cake,
please good Missus, a soul-cake.

If you don’t want to sing about Peter and Paul, which were inserted by Christians, it is possible to sing about Mona, the Anglo-Saxon name of the Moon, and Sol, a name of the Sun.

One for Mona, two for Sol
Three for them who made us all.

Souling Song (1)

A soul, a soul, a soul cake
Please, good missus, a soul cake
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house, the mistress also,
And all the little children who round your table grow.
Likewise your men and maidens, your cattle and your store
And all that dwells within your gates, we wish you ten times more.

The lanes are very dirty and my shoes are very thin.
I’ve got a little pocket I can put a penny in.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’ penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha’ penny, then God bless you.

Souling Song (2)

Soul! Soul! for an apple or two;
If you’ve got no apple, pears will do,
Soul! Soul! for your soul’s sake,
Pray good mistress, a soul cake!

An apple or pear, a plum or cherry,
Or any good thing to make us merry.
St. Peter was a good old man,
And so for his sake, give us one.

None of your worst, but one of your best,
So God may send your souls to rest.
Up with your kettles, and down with your pans,
Give us a Soul Cake and we’ll be gone!

Antrobus Soulcakers Song

Oh we are one, two, three good hearty lads, and we’re all in one mind,
for we have come a-souling good nature to find,
for we have come a-souling for your money and your beer,
and we’ll come no more so nigh to you till this time next year.

Go down into your cellar, boys, and it’s there you will find
some strong beer, some cider, some ale or port wine;
with your white bread and cheese it will fill us with cheer;
for we’ll come no more so nigh to you till this time next year.

Oh, come, dearest mistress, do not tarry to spin
but to untop a jug to draw some ale in,
and when we have gotten it, how soon you shall see,
and when we have drunken it, how merry we will be.

Come pick up your sackies, your sackies, good dame,
for wi’ walking and talking we have gained her good name,
for wi’ walking and talking we have got very dry,
and the last of your neighbors did not us deny.

Now our time it is precious, and we cannot long stay;
we’re a company that’s designed for to taste of your ale;
we want none of your small beer, nor none of your pale,
but the one out of the kinter keg that’s next to the wall.

Hop Tu Naa

Hop Tu Naa, Hop Tu Naa!
Jinny the Witch flew over the house
To get the stick to lather the mouse!
Hop Tu Naa, Hop Tu Naa!

All Souls Night by Loreena McKennitt
© to Loreeena McKennitt

Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound.

Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
And dancing till the next sunrise.

I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night.

Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows
Held up tall as the flames leap high
The green knight holds the holly bush
To mark where the old year passes by.

Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound.

Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me.

I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night.

© by Rick Kemp, with Steeleye Span

Summer has passed, now winter’s cold breath
Falls as a mist upon darkness and death.
Black skeletal trees under slate grey skies
Guarding the stillness at pale moonrise.

The wood that we gather, to burn on this night
Will warm the departed who make sacrifice
And save us from all evil spirits that come,
Beg the creator to re-kindle the sun.

All God’s seasons long and good,
Says the wild man of the wood.

All good souls departed, are with us tonight
To make celebration ’till morning’s first light
To worship our Gods in whom we believe,
Give praise to creation on this Hallowed Eve.

Lightning flashes, thunder crashes
Place your stone among the burning ashes
If your stone should move away
Within a twelve month of this sacred day
You’ll be dead, you’ll be fey
For your soul, the rest will pray.

This great feast of Samain, our long year will end,
With smoke from the fields all good souls ascend,
Carry our message - with them we sing,
For blessing and favour and new growth in the spring. [fuggle26]

Story of Yemaya
Quoted from Ranck, in Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, who in turn is quoting from Luisah Teish, Jambalaya.

In the Yoruba religion of Africa, personal power, ashe is personified in a variety of orishas, or deities. Yemaya is the Mother of the Sea, the Great Water, the Womb of Creation. Yemaya gazes often into the waters. Each time she wonders who that beautiful woman is who stares back at her. One time as she wondered, her belly grew until it exploded, covering the land with lakes and rivers and streams. Then Yemaya looked into the waters again, and wondered about the beautiful woman she saw. Again her belly grew until it exploded and filled the heavens with stars and a full moon. Finally Yemaya looked into the full moon and even there she saw that same beautiful woman. Once again her belly grew until it exploded and there before her stood thousands of beautiful women. “Who are you beautiful women?” Yemaya asked. The women looked deep into the eyes of the Goddess Yemaya and there they saw their own reflections. So the women said to Yemaya, “We’re you.”

Song of Yemaya Assessu
These are the phrases sung by Deva Premal in her version.

Yemaya Assessu, Assessu Yemaya
Yemaya Olodo, Olodo Yemaya

St. James Infirmary Blues
These are the words to the version sung by Cab Calloway in the 1930’s recording.

Folks I’m going down to St. James Infirmary
See my baby there,
She was stretched out on a long white table,
So sweet, so cold, so fair.

Let her go, let her go, god bless her,
Wherever she may be.
She can search this whole wide world over,
But she’ll never find another sweet man like me.

When I die, bury me in my straight-leg britches,
Put on a box-back coat and a Stetson hat;
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch-chain,
So you can let all the boys know I died standing pat.

Then give me six crap-shooting pall bearers.
Let a chorus girl sing me a song.
Put a red hot jazz band at the top of my head,
So we can raise hallelujah as we go along.

Folks, now that you’ve heard my story,
Hey boys, hand me over another shot of that booze.
If anyone should ask you, you can tell them,
I’ve got those St. James Infirmary Blues.

The sources and the references for each of these songs and stories are given on the page at http://piereligion.org/hallsongs.html

This page is copyright to me but none of the lyrics are. Some are copyright to the modern composers as noted, while all the others are traditional. This page was originally at pierce.yolasite.com/hallslyrics but Yola went out of business, so it has been migrated here.

© 2010, last updated 10/30/15, at piereligion.org/hallslyrics.html.

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