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All under the leaves, the leaves of life,
I met with virgins sev'n.
And one of them was Mary mild,
Our Lord's mother from heav'n.

"O what are you seeking, you seven fair maids,
All under the leaves of life?
Come tell, come tell me what you seek,
All under the leaves of life."

"We're seeking for no leaves, Thomas,
But for a friend of thine;
We're seeking for sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our guide and thine."

"Go you down, go you down to yonder town,
And sit in the gallery;
And there you'll find sweet Jesus Christ,
Nailed to a big yew-tree."

So down they went to yonder town,
As fast as foot could fall,
And many a grevious bitter tear,
From the virgin's eyes did fall.

"O peace, mother, O peace, mother,
Your weeping does me grieve;
O I must suffer this," he said,
"For Adam and for Eve."

"O how can I my weeping leave,
Or my sorrows undergo,
Whilst I do see my own Son die,
When sons I have no mo'?"

"Dear mother, dear mother, you must take John,
All for to be your son,
And he will comfort you sometimes,
Mother, as I have done."

"O, come, thou John Evangelist,
Thou'rt welcome unto me,
But more welcome my own dear son,
That I nursed upon my knee."

Then he laid his head on his right shoulder,
Seeing death it struck him nigh:
"The Holy Ghost be with your soul,-
I die, mother, I die."

Oh the rose, the rose, the gentle rose,
And the fennel it grows so green!
God give us grace in every place,
To pray for our king and queen.

Furthermore for our enemies all
Our prayers they should be strong.
Amen, Good Lord! your charity,
Is the ending of my song.

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Source: Vaughan Williams et al, 1928, Oxford Book of Carols, OUP

The soprano line of Vaughan Williams arrangement has been given.

The notes from The Oxford Book of Carols are given below:

Melody and a version of the text from Mrs Whatton and Mrs Loveridge, The Homme, Dilwyn. From Twelve Traditional Carols from Herefordshire (Leather and Vaughan Williams), Stainer & Bell. Cf Popular Carols, by F Sidwick (Sidwick and Jackson). This fine example of the way in which a mystical vision is created by the best folk-poetry appeared in the Staffordshire A Good Christmas Box. 1847, Sylvester (1861) printed a version of it from an 'old Birmingham broadside'. Sir A Quiller-Couch included it in the Oxford Book of English Verse, and Walter de la Mare in Come Hither.

Roud: 127 (Search Roud index at VWML)

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