The Crying Fambley

There lived upon a time
Down by a running water
An old man and his wife
Who had a beauteous daughter
Gay charming virtuous fair
A young man loved her dearly
They often wandered there
Through groves and fields of barley.

Ry tol lol luryl lay ry tol lol luryl laddy
Ry tol lol luril lay ry tol lol luril laddy.

But let us pause a while
And sing of the old lady
Good people you may smile
Says she as quick as may be
I’ll take the water pail
And go and get some water
And musing as she went
She thought upon her daughter.

Her old man John was there
To realize his wishes
With hook and rod and flies
To catch those little fishes
There stretched out on the ground
At full length he was lying
He turned his head around,
And saw his old wife crying.

O what’s the matter Kate
O what’s the matter woman
What runing in your fate
Tis something more than common
“O John” poor Katie cried
“I had a troubled fancy
I heard the waters roar
And thought upon our Nancy.”

If Tom and Nan should wed
And such a thing there may be
Their union might bring forth
A prattling little baby
And when the baby walks
And just begin to waddle
Perhaps he might come here
And in the water paddle.

“That’s true old John” he cried
“And then it would be drownded
And cast upon the shore
And afterward” be founded
“Then buried it would be
That’s common after dying
Poor sweet little baby”
And then began a-crying.

Perhaps it might been fate
That brought those lovers walking
And heard old John and Kate
A crying in their talking
They all sat on the green
While Kate she told the tale-o
It ne’er was heard nor seen
How they did weep and wail-o.

They all went crying home
The old man, wife and daughter
And ever since that night
Is seen upon the water

The ghost of a poor little baby that never was born
Comes every night when the moon shines bright
And sticks its little finger in its eye and begins to cry
Ry tol lol &c.

Song Text Source: 

Phillips Manuscript supplemented by the recording

Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Location Recorded: 
Akeley, Hubbard County , MN
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G90 Misc 153

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MFC Reference Number: