Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
110. The Holy Well
 
 
I

AS it fell out one May morning,
  And upon one bright holiday,
Sweet Jesus asked of his dear mother,
  If he might go to play.
 
II

‘To play, to play, sweet Jesus shall go,
        5
  And to play pray get you gone;
And let me hear of no complaint
  At night when you come home.’
 
III

Sweet Jesus went down to yonder town,
  As far as the Holy Well,        10
And there did see as fine children
  As any tongue can tell.
 
IV

He said, ‘God bless you every one,
  And your bodies Christ save and see:
Little children, shall I play with you,        15
  And you shall play with me?’
 
V

But they made answer to him, ‘No:
  They were lords and ladies all;
And he was but a maiden’s child,
  Born in an ox’s stall.’        20
 
VI

Sweet Jesus turnéd him around,
  And he neither laughed nor smiled,
But the tears came trickling from his eyes
  To be but a maiden’s child.
 
VII

Sweet Jesus turnéd him about,
        25
  To his mother’s dear home went he,
And said, ‘I have been in yonder town,
  As far as you can see.
 
VIII

‘I have been down in yonder town
  As far as the Holy Well,        30
There did I meet as fine children
  As any tongue can tell.
 
IX

‘I bid God bless them every one,
  And their bodies Christ save and see:
Little children, shall I play with you,        35
  And you shall play with me?
 
X

‘But they made answer to me, No:
  They were lords and ladies all;
And I was but a maiden’s child,
  Born in an ox’s stall.’—        40
 
XI

‘Though you are but a maiden’s child,
  Born in an ox’s stall,
Thou art the Christ, the King of heaven,
  And the Saviour of them all.
 
XII

‘Sweet Jesus, go down to yonder town
        45
  As far as the Holy Well,
And take away those sinful souls,
  And dip them deep in hell.’
 
XIII

‘Nay, nay,’ sweet Jesus said,
  ‘Nay, nay, that may not be;        50
For there are too many sinful souls
  Crying out for the help of me.’
 

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