It rains, it rains in Merry Lincoln
It rains both great and small,
When all the boys come out to play
To play and toss their ball.
They toss'd their ball so high, so high
They toss'd their ball so low;
They toss'd it over the Jew's garden,
With all the fine Jews below.
The first that came out was a Jew's daughter
Was dressed all in green;
Come in, come in, my little Sir Hugh
You shall have your ball again.
O no, O no, I dare not a-come
Without my playmates too;
For if my mother should be at the door
She would cause my poor heart to rue.
The first she offer'd him was a fig,
The next a finger thing,
The third a cherry as red as blood
And that enticed him in.
She set him up in a gilty chair,
She gave him sugar sweet.
She laid him out on a dresser board
And stabbed him like a sheep.
And when the school was over,
His mother came out for to call,
With a little rod under her apron
To beat her son withal.
His mother she went to the Jew's wife's house
And knocked loud at the ring:
O little Sir Hugh if you are here
Come let your mother in.
He is not here the Jew's wife said,
He is not here today;
He's with his schoolfellows on the green
Keeping this high holiday.
My head is heavy I cannot get up,
My grave it is so deep;
Besides a penknife sticks into my heart,
So up I cannot get.
Go home, go home, my mother dear,
And prepare me a winding sheet;
For tomorrow morning before it is day
Your body and mine shall meet.
And lay my prayerbook at my head,
And my grammar at my feet,
That all me schoolfellows as they pass by
May read them for my sake.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Sharp, C (ed),1916,One Hundred English Folksongs,Boston,Oliver Ditson Co
Cecil Sharp's notes follow:
Versions of this ballad, with tunes, may be found in Miss Mason's Nursery Rhymes (P. 46); Motherwell's Minstrelsy (p. 51, tune No. 7); Journal of the Folk-Song Society (volume i, p. 264); and in Rimbault's Musical Illustrations of Percy's Reliques (pp. 3 and 46). For versions without tunes, see Percy's Reliques (volume i, P. 27); Herd's Scottish Songs (volume i, p. I S 7); Jamieson's Popular Ballads (volume i, p. 151); Notes and Queries (Series i); and Child's English and Scottish Ballads (No. 155). The story of this ballad is closely connected with that of the carols "The Bitter Withy" and "The Holy Well" (see the Journal of the Folk-Song Society, volume iv, PP. 3 5-46). The events narrated in this ballad were supposed to have taken place in the 13th century. The story is told by a contemporary writer in the annals of Waverley, under the year 1255. Little Sir Hugh was crucified by the Jews in contempt of Christ with various preliminary tortures. To conceal the act from the Christians, the body was thrown into a running stream, but the water immediately ejected it upon dry land. It was then buried, but was found above ground the next day. As a last resource the body was thrown into a drinking-well; whereupon, the whole place was filled with so brilliant a light and so sweet an odor that it was clear to everybody that there must be something holy in the well. The body was seen floating on the water and, upon its recovery, it was found that the hands and feet were pierced with wounds, the forehead lacerated, etc. The unfortunate Jews were suspected. The King ordered an inquiry. Eighteen Jews confessed, were convicted, and eventually hanged.
A similar tale is told by Matthew Paris (ob. 1259), and in the Annals of Burton (13th or 14th century). Halliwell, in his Ballads and Poems respecting Hugh of Lincoln, prints an Anglo-French ballad, consisting of ninety-two stanzas, which is believed to have been written at the time of, or soon after, the event. No English ballad has been recovered earlier than the middle of the 18th century.
Bishop Percy rightly concludes "the whole charge to be groundless and malicious." Murders of this sort have been imputed to the Jews for seven hundred and fifty years or more; and similar accusations have been made in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe even in the i9th century-and as late as 1883. Child sums up the whole matter by saying, "These pretended child-murders, with their horrible con sequences, are only a part of a persecution which, with all its moderation, may be rubricated as the most disgraceful chapter in the history of the hurrian race.
I have discovered three other versions of this ballad besides the one in this volume. The words in the text have been compiled from these sources. The singer learned the ballad from her mother, who always sang the first two lines as follows:
Do rain, do rain, American corn,
Do rain both great and small.
Clearly, "American corn" is a corruption of "In merry Lincoln" and I hazard the guess that the " Mirry-land toune" in Percy's version is but another corruption of the same words.
The tune in the text is a close variant of "Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day" (Chappell's Popular Music, p 227)
Roud: 73 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six