click to play

In good King Charles's golden days,
When loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous High Churchman was I,
And so I got preferment;
To teach my flock I never miss'd,
Kings were by God appointed,
And damn'd are those that do resist,
Or touch the Lord's annointed.

And this is law, I will maintain,
Until my dying day, Sir,
That whatsoever King may reign,
Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, Sir.

When royal James obtain'd the crown,
And Pop'ry came in fashion,
The penal laws I hooted down,
And read the Declaration;
The Church of Rome I found would fit
Full well my constitution;
And had become a Jesuit
But for the Revolution.

When William was our King declar'd,
To ease a nation's greviance,
With this new winf about I sterr'd,
And swore to him allegence;
Old principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance;
Passive obedience as a joke,
A jest was non-resistance.

When gracious Anne became our Queen,
The Church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory,
Ocaasional Conformists base,
I damn'd their moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was,
By such prevarication.

When George in pudding time came o'er,
And mod'rate men look'd big, Sir,
I turn'd a cat-in-pan once more,
And so became a Whig, Sir;
And thus preferment I procur'd,
From our new faith's defender,
And almost ev'ry day abjur'd
The Pope and the Pretender.

Th' illustrious house of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I do allegiance swear,
While they can keep possession;
For in my faith and loyalty
I never more will falter
And George my lawful King shall be,
Until the times do alter.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Sabine Baring Gould, 1895, Old English Songs from English Minstrelsie

This is taken from the selection of the eight volume work by Baring Gould of the same name, reprinted by Llanerch Publishers.

Notes are not given in the selection, but are in the full eight volume work to which I do not have access. Therefore I cannot give any information about where and when this song was collected.

The following quotation is from a Berkshire History website:

The famous Singing Vicar of Bray had a well-known ballad written about him in which he promised to remain the Vicar of Bray, Sir no matter what religious denomination he had to adopt. The ballad indicates he was Francis Carswell (Vicar 1650-1709), but the story was recorded of the rector through the turbulent Tudor years as early as 1662. This, much more likely candidate, was named Simon Alleyn (Vicar 1523-65) and his memorial slab lies in the middle of the nave.

Roud: 4998 (Search Roud index at VWML)

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z