101  Saint Bernards Vision./ OR,/ A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) betweene the Soule and the Body of a dam/ned man newly deceased [Roxburghe 1.376-77]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: Saint Bernards Vision

Bodies - clothing Bodies - health/sickness Death - burial/funeral Death - result of immorality Emotions - anger Emotions - despair Emotions - fear Emotions - hope Environment - animals Environment - buildings Family - general History - ancient/mythological Morality - general Recreation - music Recreation - reading/writing Religion - Bible Religion - Christ/God Religion - Devil(s) Religion - Judgement Day Religion - angels Religion - body/soul Religion - heaven/hell Religion - saints Religion - sin/repentance

Song History

Saint Bernards Vision was clearly a very successful song through much of the seventeenth century and on into the eighteenth. A late edition, entitled A vision or dialogue, between a departed Soul and the Body, was published around 1800.

The ballad was not registered until 1656 but it clearly existed some years before this. The ballad-makers’ wish for the preservation of the king and queen, expressed in the final verse, is unlikely to have been composed when Cromwell was in power during the 1650s, and one surviving version of the ballad – our featured edition – was probably published in c. 1640. Saint Bernards Vision  was based on a book by William Crashaw, first published in 1613, and it seems likely that the ballad was actually composed soon after this (see Related texts). Both Crashaw and the ballad-makers attributed the tale to St. Bernard but there is no strong evidence of a link to the famous medieval abbot of Clairvaux.

The song’s popularity might be understood in a number of ways. Most importantly, it articulated clearly and concisely some of the deep anxieties that individuals of the early-modern period are likely to have experienced over their prospects in eternity. Saint Bernards Vision achieved a dramatic and accessible consideration of several important concerns, including godly living, worldly temptation, sin, death, decomposition, divine justice, angels, devils, the nature of hell and the tensely related responsibilities of soul and body. On a single sheet, this was quite an achievement.

The success of the song suggests the marketability of a dark brand of religious culture that might strike many people today as depressing and disturbing. There is no hope for either the body or the soul because they have both come to repentance far too late. Rosalie Osmond notes the song's success but comments 'it must have provided dubious cheer for seventeenth-century listeners!'.

The deep traditionalism of the text (and pictures) must also have struck a chord, indicating the remarkable resilience of a late-medieval, pre-Reformation style of religiosity. Perhaps Saint Bernards Vision allowed English people of the seventeenth century, most of whom considered themselves Protestant, to maintain connections with their ‘popish’ ancestors in a manner that was simultaneously safe and satisfying. The ballad-makers signalled this possibility by referring to a medieval saint in their title but hereafter they avoided controversial theology – there is no mention of purgatory, for example – and aimed to attract as broad a range of contemporary believers as possible. The ballad’s history of repeated publication suggests that they succeeded.

Saint Bernards Vision also connected skilfully with other familiar life-experiences. The back-and-forth nature of the quarrel between the soul and the body mimicked the contours of interpersonal disputes that must have been as common then as they are now. The two participants are tetchy, repetitive, unreasonable and desperate to deflect blame, just as we all can be in the heat of an argument. In fact, the conversation feels at times like a dispute within a thoroughly unhappy marriage (the body is male but the soul is referred to both as a woman and a man).

The song is also set up as a confrontation between a superior (the soul) and an inferior (the body), an aspect that would have spoken directly to the residents of an intensely hierarchical age. It is couched in these terms from start to finish and the inequality of the relationship between body and soul is expressed in much of its vocabulary: ‘power’, ‘servant’, ‘restraine’, ‘guided’, ‘commands’, ‘bridled’, ‘the upper hand’ and ‘yeeldest unto mee’.

The ballad was designed to attract the attention of people from all ranks of society, though it was especially critical of the sins of the rich. The fact that the ill-fated body has been accustomed to a world of ‘sumptuous Buildings’ and ‘rich Clothes’ may have endeared the song particularly to those who lacked such material privileges, and the re-casting of a pampered aristocratic body as the inferior in an argument amplified the sound of tables turning. Ultimately, however, the aristocratic soul faces the same prospect as the body and is led away by jubilant fiends (‘Welcome, O welcome to the pit of Hell’).

The edition of c. 1800 is interesting. It is clearly a version of Saint Bernards Vision, though the words are altered at numerous points and the order of the verses is substantially revised. Osmond argues plausibly that a comparison of the texts suggests the combined influence of oral transmission, revision for publication and printer error.

Christopher Marsh


Anon, A VISION OR DIALOGUE, Between a departed Soul and the Body (c. 1800). Printed in Osmond, pp. 215-18.

Broadside ballads from the Bodleian Library: http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

English Broadside Ballad Archive: https://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/

William Crashaw, Dialogue betwixt the soule and the body of a damned man. Each laying the fault upon the other. Transcribed out of an ancient copy, and put into plaine English meeter (1613).

William and Cluer Dicey, A catalogue of maps, prints... old ballads... &c. Printed and sold by William and Cluer Dicey (1754), p. 54.

English Short Title Catalogue.

Ian Green, Print and Protestantism in early modern England (Oxford, 2000), pp. 452 and 467.

Madden Collection, Garlands, vol. 3, no. 694, Cambridge University Library.

Rosalie Osmond, Mutual accusations. Seventeenth century body and soul dialogues in their literary and theological context (Toronto, 1990). The sentence quoted above is on p. 87.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), nos. 2360-61.

Tessa Watt, Cheap print and popular piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 110-11 .

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘Fortune my Foe’ (standard name)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost

Versions and variations

‘Fortune my foe’ was so well known that notation appears in dozens of sources, both printed and manuscript. There are instrumental settings for lute, virginals, cittern and lyra viol, and several of the period’s most celebrated composers – John Dowland and William Byrd, for example – applied their talents to the tune.

This was a remarkably solid melody, and renditions are striking in their consistency over time and space. Examples can be found in the following sources (and in many more besides): William Ballet’s lute book (c. 1600); the Fitzwilliam virginal book (late sixteenth and early seventeenth century); Clement Matchett’s virginal book (c.1612); William Barley’s New Booke of Tabliture (1596); and William Corkine’s Ayres, to Sing and Play (1610). The melody was also well known on the continent, where its English origins were recognised. An unusual variant in a major key appears in Oliver Pygge’s Meditations (1589), where the melody is nominated for a song about England’s deliverance from the Spanish Armada. The version used on our recording can be found in Robert Creighton’s virginal book (probably compiled in the 1630s).

Other titles for this melody included ‘Aim not too high’, ‘Doctor Faustus’, ‘A lesson for all true Christians’, ‘The Virgins ABC’, ‘The Young Mans ABC’, ‘The godly mans instruction’, ‘A letter for a Christian family’, ‘Kings Tryal’ and 'Bernard's vision' (the last title comes from the ballad featured here).

Echoes (an overview)

‘Fortune my foe’ was almost certainly the best-known melody in seventeenth-century England, with the possible exception of a few of the most common psalm tunes. Almost eighty different songs are listed below, all of them designed for singing to this extraordinarily successful four-line composition. These include seven from our list of best-sellers.

Equally remarkable is the thematic consistency of the texts for which the tune was chosen. They fall into two main categories. The ballad that generated the original tune-title was a romantic song entitled A sweet Sonnet, in which a forlorn male lover is reassured by his no-nonsense sweetheart. This song remained popular for over a century, and a small number of other ballads also adopted the romantic theme (see, for example, The Young-Mans A. B. C.).

In numerical terms, however, the melody’s original mood of romance was overwhelmed by dozens of ballads that focused on sin and repentance. The predominance of this theme explains why authors sometimes referred to ‘Fortune my foe’ as ‘that solemne Tune’ (The penitant traytor) or ‘that preaching tune’ (Brome, Rump). The tune feels intrinsically sober and serious, and it seems likely that this must have helped to drive the development of sternly moral associations alongside those already established.

The dangers of sin and the pressing need for repentance were emphasised in several different and often overlapping ways: by describing the providential judgements that were visited upon individual sinners; by introducing us to dying Christians who demonstrated how to make a good exit or, in some cases, how not to; by stressing the immorality of society in general terms and advising everyone to reform their conduct immediately; by describing meteorological ‘wonders’ and interpreting them as warnings from God; and, most notably, by portraying named convicts as they awaited execution and, more often than not, putting words in their mouths that highlighted the errors of their ways and urged others to take heed. Saint Bernards Vision, with its conversation about salvation and its hope ‘That each good Christian may in time repent’, connects with more than one of these approaches. Considered together, the songs to this tune amplified one another to a remarkable extent. 

As time passed, and as the songs piled up on top of one another, the reputation of ‘Fortune my foe’ as a ‘hanging tune’ must have ensured that it conveyed a mood of doom even when applied to other sorts of song. When, for example, The Godly Mans Instructions are sung to the tune, the text’s many moral injunctions are arguably backed by a melodic reminder concerning the consequences of disobedience.

And on the rare occasions when the ballad was named for more optimistic ballads about the deeds of exemplary individuals, it is as if we are simultaneously being encouraged to imitate a positive role model and warned about the dangers of failing to do so.

There is also the interesting possibility that a performance of the romantic Sweet Sonnet in c. 1670 would have felt rather different from a rendition of the song in c. 1570 because of the steady accumulation of doom-laden associations in the intervening decades.

There are also some direct intertextual echoes that connect the songs together, though they are perhaps not as precise and numerous as those that marked the careers of some of our other tunes (‘Flying Fame’, for example). The influence of the original Sweet Sonnet over subsequent songs can be seen in the occasional habit of referring to ‘Fortune’ in the opening line. The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife, for example, kicks off with the words, ‘Brave Windham late, whom Fortune did adorn’, an opening gambit that recalls the start of The Lamentation of Master Pages wife: ‘Unhappy she whom Fortune hath forlorn’. This line was also echoed in A Looking-Glasse for Maids, which begins, ‘Unhappy I, who in this prime of youth’.

Several songs also follow A sweet Sonnet in including a verse, usually somewhere in the middle, in which the same words are used repetitively to begin several successive lines. In Saint Bernards Vision, for instance, three lines in the fourth verse all begin with the word, ‘Where...’ (see also The Judgment of God shewed upon on Jhon Faustus and Save a Theefe from the Gallowes).

An excellent song shares with The Young-Mans A. B. C. and The Virgins A. B. C. not only a tune and an alphabetic structure but an approach to the letter Q: the relevant lines are ‘Quench fond desires and pleasures of the flesh’,‘Quench thou the flames of this my burning breast’ and ‘Quench in thy self all lusts inflaming fires’.

Beyond these examples, there is a general feeling of intertextual connection in the placement of words such as ‘lament’ and ‘amend’ at the ends of lines, often rhymed with recurring and equally sober terms like ‘repent’ and ‘end’.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on this melody].

Songs and Summaries

A sweet Sonnet, wherein the Lover exclaimeth against Fortune for the loss of his Ladies favour... To the Tune of Fortune my Foe (registered 1565-66; J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84). Pepys 1.512-13; EBBA 20243. Emotions – despair, joy, love; Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity. A man sings in sorrow because he thinks his sweetheart has abandoned him, but she responds with a message of reassurance.

A mournfull Dittie on the death of certaine Judges and Justices of the Peace... To the tune of Fortune (William Wright, 1590). British Library, Huth 50.(62.). Death – illness, burial/funeral; Emotions – anxiety; Employment – professions; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; Morality – general, social/economic; News – sensational; Politics – Royalist; Royalty – praise; Places – English. This describes the mysterious deaths of several eminent judges and gentlemen, and warns us of all of the need to administer justice fairly to all.

The Lamentable and Tragicall History of Titus Andronicus... To the tune of Fortune my Foe (registered 1594; F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Folger Library L252a. History – ancient/mythological, heroism; Politics – domestic, power, plots; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry, sexual violence, femininity, masculinity; Crime – murder, rape, false witness; Violence – interpersonal, sexual, punitive, between states; Bodies – injury; Death – warfare, unlawful killing, suicide; Disability – physical; Emotions – anger, hatred, love, despair; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Environment – landscape; Places – European, travel/transport, nationalities. This tells the bloody story of Titus Andronicus, the war-hero who returned to Rome only to become locked in a deadly feud with the nasty new Empress and her malevolent minions.

A Godly Song, entituled, A farewell to the Worlds... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (Henry Gossen, 1601-40). Roxburghe 1.136-37; EBBA 30084. Religion – Bible, body/soul, Christ/God, faith, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, church; Death – godly end; Bodies – health/sickness; Recreation – music; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; Places - English. A parish clerk prepares to meet his maker, demonstrating the composure, repentance and faith that define a good death.

Saint Bernards Vision.  OR,  A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) betweene the Soule and the Body of a damned man newly deceased... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (J. Wright, 1602-46). Roxburghe 1.376-77; EBBA 30253. Religion – body/soul, angels/devils, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Death – result of immorality, burial/funeral; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – anger, despair, hope; History – ancient/mythological; Recreation – music; Morality – general. The narrator, recalling a dream, describes an acrimonious encounter between a corpse and the immortal soul that previously inhabited it, each blaming the other for the death and damnation that they have suffered.

The Judgment of God shewed upon on Jhon Faustus... TO THE TUNE OF Fortune my Foe (surviving printed copies are later in date but the song was transcribed by hand in 1603-1616). Shirburn ballads, XV. Religion – conjuration, angels/Devils, body/soul, sin/repentance, Christ/God, heaven/hell; History – recent; Emotions – greed, despair; Violence – diabolical; Death –diabolical; Environment – wonders, buildings; Places – European, travel/transport; Employment – professions; Society – education. A German doctor of divinity turns away from Christ and pledges his soul to the Devil, with horrific consequence.

A Joyfull new Ballad of the late victorye obtained by my Lord Mount Joy... TO THE TUNE OF Fortune my Foe (printed copies have not survived but the ballad was transcribed by hand in the early seventeenth century, 1603-16). Shirburn ballads, XXXI.  This celebrates Mountjoy’s recent victories against the Earl of Tyrone and his Spanish allies in Ireland, and thanks God for fighting on the English side.

The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth... to the tune of Fortune (composed 1590s; H. Gosson, 1609-40). Pepys 1.126-27; EBBA 20054. See also Shirburn ballads, XXVI and XXVII. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing, godly end; Emotions – sorrow, anger, love, longing; Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity, masculinity; Society – old/young; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Bodies – looks/physique; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English; Violence – interpersonal. Three songs on one sheet in which Eulalia Page and her lover, George Strangwidge, explain why they murdered Eulalia’s husband and prepare themselves for execution.

[The] complaint and lamentation of Mistresse Arden of [Fev]ersham in Kent... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe (C. W., 1610-38). Roxburghe 3.156-57; EBBA 30458. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Gender – marriage, adultery/cuckoldry; Bodies – looks/physique, injury; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – siblings; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – food, hospitality; Society – neighbours; Violence – interpersonal, domestic. Mistress Arden describes how she killed her husband for the love of another man, aided by two rather incompetent assassins called ‘Shakebag’ and ‘Black Will’.

Save a Theefe from the Gallowes and hee'l hang thee if he can: / Or, The mercifull Father, and the mercilesse Sonne... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe (Edw[ard Wright], 1611-56). Manchester Central Library Blackletter Ballads 1.56; EBBA 36258. Family – children/parents, kin, inheritance; Violence- interpersonal, punitive; Crime – murder, general; Death – unlawful killing, execution, result of immorality; Religion – Bible, sin/repentance, faith, Christ/God; Morality – familial; Emotions – greed, despair; Society – old/young; Places – English. Two repentant songs by a young gentleman who murdered his uncle and framed his own loving and kind father for the crime.

The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife, at Norwidge... To the tune of Fortune my foe (John Trundle, c.1615). Pepys 1.130-31; EBBA 20056. Environment – buildings; Places – English; Crime – arson, punishment; Death – execution; Emotions – sorrow, anger, horror; Society – rich/poor; Employment – begging; Religion – church, charity. The town of Windham in Norfolk speaks out against the wandering beggars who set fire to it, causing catastrophic damage.

Anne Wallens Lamentation, For the Murthering of her husband... To the tune of Fortune my foe (Henry Gosson, c. 1616). Pepys 1.124-25; EBBA 20053.  Crime – murder, prison, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – domestic, punitive; Gender – marriage; Society – neighbours, urban life; Emotions – anger, sorrow, guilt; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, prayer; Employment – crafts/trades; Morality – familial; Places – English; Recreation - alcohol. A woman, awaiting execution, expresses her remorse for the murder of her husband and urges other women to learn the lessons and control their tempers.

The lamentable burning of the Citty of Cork (in the Province of Munster in Ireland) by Lightning... To the tune of Fortune my foe (E. A, c.1622). Pepys 1.68-69r; EBBA 20267. Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Christ/God, church; Places – Irish; Emotions – fear, horror, confusion; Morality – general; Environment – buildings, weather; Family – children/parents,siblings; Gender – marriage; Society – urban life. This describes a lightning strike and subsequent fire in Cork, interpreting it as a warning from God of the need for us all to repent and turn to Him.

An excellent song, wherein you shall find, Great consolation for a troubled mind... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe  (registered 1656, but the tune title that derived from the ballad, ‘Aim not too high’, was in existence from c. 1625, so the song must have been in circulation by this date; F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Pepys 2.63; EBBA 20688. Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, charity, prayer, Christ/God, heaven/hell, angels/Devils, Bible, body/soul, general; Morality – general, social/economic; Society – rich/poor. An ABC ballad that offers extensive instruction on living a godly and moral life.

An example for all those that make no conscience of swearing and forswearing, Shewing Gods heavy Judgement upon a Maid-servant in London… To the tune of, Aime not too high (J. W, c.1625). Folger Shakespeare Library. Religion – sin/repentancy, Bible, body/soul, Christ/God, divine intervention, faith; Bodies – health/sickness; Crime – robbery/theft; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Society – criticism; Morality – general; Death – result of immorality; Emotions – wonder; Environment – buildings; News – sensational; Places – English; Recreation – sight-seeing. A warning against swearing and forswearing, centring on the example of a thieving servant who is now rotting in prison as a result of her sins.

A discourse of Mans life. Comparing him to things that quickly passe... To the tune of Ayme not too high (H. G., c. 1625-29). Roxburghe 1.70-71; EBBA 30049. Death – general; Environment – animals, birds, flowers/treesk crops, weather, seasons; Religion – prayer, pilgrimage, Bible; Employment – crafts/trades; Royalty – praise. A meditation on the transitory nature of life, concentrating on imagery drawn from the natural world.

By the directions of the Scriptures, and the examples of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ... To the Tune of Ayme not too high (Francis Grove, 1625-62). Manchester Central Library - Blackletter Ballads 1.5; EBBA 36014. Morality – social/economic; Religion – Bible, charity, Christ/God; Society – criticism, rich/poor; Bodies – clothing, nourishment, health/sickness; Crime – prison; Economy – hardship/prosperity; Family – children/parents; Emotions – sympathy. This complains that the rich are failing in their charitable duties to the poor, and urges everyone to follow Jesus’ example in looking after those who are suffering.

The Despairing Lover, Whose minde was much tormented, Because of his True-Love Hee thought hee was prevented... To the tune of, Aime not too high (F. Coules, 1625-80).  Roxburghe 1.82-83; EBBA 30057. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Death – suicide, heartbreak; Environment – animals, sea, weather; Places – European, extra-European, travel/transport; Emotions – despair, joy, love. A man feels rejected by his sweetheart and prepares to kill himself, but she intervenes in the nick of time and a loving outcome is assured.

The godly end, and wofull lamentation of one John Stevens... To the tune of Fortune my foe (H. Gosson, c. 1632). Roxburghe 1.490-91; EBBA 30327.  Crime – treason, prison, punishment; Death – execution; Violence – punitive; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Politics – treason; Family – children/parents; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, faith, Bible; Emotions – sorrow; Bodies – injury; Places – English, travel/transport; Royalty – praise. A young man, awaiting execution for high treason, expresses deep remorse and warns others to avoid wickedness.

The lamentation of Edward Bruton, and James Riley... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe + Another Bloody murther committed neere Ware... To the same Tune (H. G., c. 1633). Roxburghe 1.486-87; EBBA 30324. Crime – murder, robbery/theft, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell; Emotions – guilt, sorrow; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English. The first song presents the repentant words of two murderers as they await execution, and the second tells the story of a gang of robbers/murderers who meet the same fate.

[Title missing]... pitty, to all people that shall heare of it… To the tune of, Aime not too high (imprint missing, c. 1633).  Manchester Central Library, Blackletter ballads, 1.50; EBBA 36041. Environment – buildings; Emotions – fear, horror; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; History – recent; News – general; Places – English; Religion – prayer. The text is damaged but its clear purpose is to describe a recent fire that caused panic and destroyed numerous properties on London Bridge.

The Young-Mans A. B. C.... The Tune is, Aim not too high (registered 1634; J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86). Pepys 1.508-09; EBBA 20241. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – despair, hope, confusion, hatred, disdain; Bodies – health/sickness. A male youth is in terrible romantic torment and begs his insensitive sweetheart to ‘Resolve me off or on/ and there’s an end’.

Death’s loud Allarum: OR, A perfect description of the frailty of Mans life with some admonitions to warne all men and women to repentance... To the tune of, Aime not too high (John Wright the Young[er], 1634-45). Roxburghe 1.78-79;  EBBA 30054. Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, divine intervention, heaven/hell; Death – general; Emotion – anxiety; Family – children/parents, siblings; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol, food; Society – rich/poor; Violence - divine. A reminder that death can strike at any minute and that it is therefore vital that all people prepare themselves and amend their sinful lives before it is too late.

A wonderfull wonder, Being a most strange and true relation of the resolute life, and miserable death of Thomas Miles... To the tune of, Aime not too high (John Wright junior, c. 1635). Roxburghe 1.482-83; EBBA 30320. Death – result of immorality; Recreation – food; Religion – prayer, Christ/Jesus, sin/repentance, divine intervention; Morality – general; Bodies – nourishment, health/illness; Environment – wonders, weather; Places – English. This warns us against swearing and forswearing, using the example of a man who expressed an opinion, hoping never to eat again if it wasn’t true, and then choked to death at his next meal.

A cruel murther committed lately upon the body of Abraham Gearsy... To the tune of Fortune my Foe (John Wright Junior, c.1635). Roxburghe 1.488-89; EBBA 30326. Crime- murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Economy – money; Emotions – horror; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Religion – angels/devils, Christ/God, sin/repentance, prayer; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; News – convicts/crimes; Society – friendship, neighbours; Places – English. The tale of two brothers, executed for the murder of a man to whom one of them owed money.

Youths Warning-peice. In a true Relation of the woefull Death of William Rogers of Cranbrooke in Kent an Apothecary... To the Tune of Doctor Faustus (A. K, 1636). Roxburghe 1.434-35; EBBA 30294.  Religion – Christ/God, faith, clergy, church, heaven/hell; Bodies – health/sickness; Employment – apprenticeship/service, crafts/trades; Death – result of immorality; Economy – money, livings; Emotions – sorrow, horror; Family – children/parents; Morality – general, social/economic; Society – education; Places – English; Recreation – alcohol; Royalty – praise. A cautionary tale about a promising and godly young apothecary who fell into bad company, turned away from religion, and died in a state of panic regarding the future of his immortal soul.

A Lamentable List, of certaine Hidious, Frightful, and Prodigious Signes… To the tune of Aime not to high (Thomas Lambert, 1638).  Wood 402(67, 68). Environment – wonders, animals, birds, weather; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God, sin/repentance, Bible; Places – European; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – fear, wonder; Violence – divine; History – recent; Morality – general; News – international, sensational; Recreation – music. A musical list of all the strange happenings in Germany during the last twenty years, and a warning to all Christians of the need to repent.

A Description of this age… The Tune is, Aim not to high (Richard Burton,1640-79). Douce Ballads 1(60b). Society – criticism, friendship, neighbours, rich/poor; Morality – general, familial, romantic/sexual, social/economic; Religion – body/soul, Christ/God, sin/repentance, church, charity; Bodies – clothing, health/sickness, adornment; Death – general, godly end; Economy – money, hardship/prosperity; Emotions – anxiety, frustration; Recreation – alcohol, fashions; Employment – professions, prostitution; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender – marriage. The author expresses alarm at the sinfulness of the age and urges repentance, while reminding all people that they are destined to die.

A Looking-Glasse for Maids. OR, The Downfall of two desperate Lovers... The tune is, Aim not too high (Tho. Vere, 1644-82) Euing 163; EBBA 32063. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Death – duelling/jousting, tragedy; Violence – interpersonal; Recreation – food, music; Environment – birds; flowers/trees; Bodies – clothing, nourishment, injury; Emotions – jealousy, anger, horror, despair, shame; Family – children/parents; Religion – Christ/God, prayer; Places – English.  A warning against wantonness and pride in a tale of two men who died fighting over a woman on Isle of Wight.

Three horrible Murthers... To the Tune of, Aime not too high: or Fortune my Foe (John Hammond, 1646). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 2.12; EBBA 36111. Crime - murder, theft; Death - unlawful killing, tragedy, execution; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Justice - execution, imprisonment; Employment - sailors/soldiers, Emotions – fear, horror sorrow; Family – children/parents;  News – general; Places – English. A violent house-robbery near Winchester is thwarted by some passing soldiers, but not before several members of the family have been murdered. 

The penitant traytor or the humble Confession of a Devonshire gentleman, who was condemned for high treason, and executed at Tyborne for the same, in the Raigne of King Henry the third… You may sing this if you please. To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (no imprint, 1647).  BL Thomason, 669.f.11[35]. Politics – controversy, dometic, Royalist, treason, plots, elections, parliament; Crime – treason; Death – execution; History – medieval, villainy; Humour – satire, deceit/disguise; Places – English. This is a black-letter ballad written in the satirical style that is more commonly associated with white-letter songs, and its tale about the treason of a medieval gentleman is really an attack upon current parliamentary politics.

The manner of the Kings Tryal at Westminster-Hall... The Tune is, Aim not too high (c. 1648; W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1687-88).  Pepys 2.204-05; EBBA 20816.  Crime – treason, punishment; Death – execution, godly end; Politics – controversy, domestic, treason; Royalty – authority, criticism; Violence – punitive; Emotions – sorrow; Family – children/parents. An account of the trial and execution of Charles I, setting out the charges laid, the king’s response, and his speech on the scaffold.

A True Relation, Of The great Floods that happened in many parts of England in December and January last... The Tune is, aim not to high (J. Clark, 1651-86?).  Roxburghe 3.236; EBBA 30875. Religion – Bible, Christ/God, divine intervention, sin/repentance, charity, church, prayer; Morality – general;  Society – criticism, rich/poor; Death – result of immorality; Environment – wonders, weather, buildings; Economy – hardship, prices/wages; Violence – divine/diabolical; Emotions – fear, guilt; Families – pregnancy/childbirth; Recreation – alcohol; Bodies – adornment, nourishment; Places – extra-European. The recent floods are described in graphic detail and interpreted as a warning from God that England must repent its sinful ways if it is to avoid even worse suffering.

The Virgins ABC, OR, An Alphabet of Vertuous Admonitions, for a Chast, Modest and well governed Maid... The Tune is, The young Mans A. B. C. (registered 1656; F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark, 1675-80).  Euing 370; EBBA 31981.  Gender – femininity, courtship; Morality – general, romantic/sexual. A set of instructions on moral living, aimed at young women.

A Looking-Glass for all true Christians... The Tune is, Aim not too high (registered 1656; J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 2.47; EBBA 20671.  Religion – sin/repentance, Bible, Christ/God, heaven and hell, moral rules; Morality – general;  Society – criticism, rich/poor; Emotions - sorrow. A comprehensive and urgent call to repentance for sinners of all sorts.

Dying Tears, OR Englands Joy turned to mourning for the loss of that Vertuous Prince, Henry Duke of Glocester... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (Charles Tyns, c.1660). Euing 65; EBBA 31748. Death – illness, burial/funeral; Royalty – praise; Emotions – sorrow; Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist; Religion – mortality,Family – siblings, children/parents; News – political; Bodies – physique/looks. This laments the death of Charles I’s third son, heaps praises upon him and reminds all listeners that they, like the dead duke, will pass away and must prepare urgently for eternity.

A most wonderful and sad judgement of God upon one Dorothy Mattley late of Ashover... The tune is, Fortune my Foe (W. Gilbertson, 1660-62). Wood 401(177). Death – providential; Economy – money; Emotions – horror, wonder; Religion – divine intervention; Violence – divine; Environment – landscape; News – sensational; Employment – female; Crime – robbery/theft; Places – English. A woman forswears herself, hoping that she will be swallowed into the earth if she stole money from a boy, and, because she is lying, the ground duly opens up and consumes her.

Newes from Hereford.  OR, A wonderful and terrible Earthquake... The Tune is, Aim not too high (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661). Wood 401 (179). Environment – weather, buildings, crops, animals; Places – English; Emotions – horror, wonder, fear; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God, sin/repentance, church; Violence – divine; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Morality – general; News – sensational, domestic; Death – providential. A call for national repentance, inspired by the extreme weather, unprecedented apparitions and peculiar births that have recently been afflicting Hereford.

The poor man put to a pinch... To the Tune of, The Description of this Age, or, Aim not to high (J. Conyers, 1661-92). Pepys 4.299; EBBA 21961. Economy – hardship/prosperity, money, livings, trade; Employment –crafts/trades, unemployment; Religion – Christ/God, prayer; Society – rich/poor; Family –children/parents;  Emotions – anxiety, sorrow, hope; Bodies – nourishment. A plea on behalf of the suffering poor, asserting that the difficult economic conditions are caused by our sins and that only God can make things better.

A Sad and True Relation of a great fire or two... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe, or Aim not too High (E. Andrews, 1662). Wood 401(189). Death – accident; Emotions – horror, sorrow; Environment – buildings; News – domestic; Places – English; Recreation – general; Religion - mortality; Employment – professions, crafts/trades; Family – children/parents. This tells the sad story of a devastating house-fire that killed a rich merchant, his family and their guests as they slept in their beds on a December night.

Truth brought to light. OR, Wonderful strange and true news from Gloucester... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (Charles Tyns, 1662). Wood 401(191). Crime – witchcraft, murder, robbery/theft; Death – execution; Violence – interpersonal; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender –femininity; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Economy – money; Emotions – horror, wonder; Religion – conjuration/witchcraft, Christ/God; Society – friendship; Environment – sea, landscape; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, extra-European, travel/transport. This presents the strange-but-true story of a Gloucestershire man who was presumed dead at the hands of a widow and her two sons, but who then reappeared, having instead been bewitched by the widow and transported by supernatural means to a rocky island off the Turkish shore.

A Warning for Swearers... Tune, Aim not too High (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79). Roxburghe 3.38-39; EBBA 30391. Religion – divine intervention, angels/devils, Bible, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Bodies – health/sickness; Crime – robbery/theft; Death – result of immorality, providential; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror, wonder; Employment – female; Morality – general; News – sensational; Places – English. Two cautionary tales about a man and a woman who, in separate parts of the country, forswore themselves and were instantly afflicted with terrible punishments by God.

A Lesson for all true Christians... Tune of, The Letter for a Christian Family (this song generated a new name for the tune - ‘A lesson for all true Christians’ - and must therefore have been in circulation before this additional title was used by others in 1670-79; J. C., W. T., and T. P., 1684-86).  Pepys 2.48; EBBA 20672. Religion  - Christ/God, Bible, prayer, sin/repentance, heaven/hell, moral rules, church; Death – illness; Bodies – health/sickness; Family – children/parents; Crime – robbery/theft, prison; Gender – marriage, sex; Economy – trade; Society – old/young; Recreation – alcohol. A ballad in ABC format that offers wide-ranging advice on religious, moral and social duties.

The Kentish WONDER: BEING A true Relation how a poor distressed Widow, in the Wild of Kent, was by the Providence of the Almighty, miraculously preserved in her Necessity... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 1392; EBBA 33918. Religion – prayer, divine intervention, Bible, Christ/God, faith; Family – children/parents, kin, siblings; Gender – femininity; Bodies – nourishment; Society – criticism; Economy – hardship/prosperity, household; Morality – social/economic; Crime – robbery/theft; Places – English. A poor widow prays to God and is miraculously enabled to keep her seven children alive for seven weeks on a single loaf of (burnt) bread.

The Godly Mans Instructions: OR, The Dying Mans last Words to his Children... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (Philip Brooksby, 1670-98). Beinecke – Michell-Jolliffe, 2000 Folio 6 272; EBBA 35932. Religion – moral rules, Christ/God, body/soul, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Society – old/young; Death – illness; Family – children/parents; siblings; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol. A dying man warns his children and everyone else of the need to avoid the sins that abound in society if they are to hope for a place in heaven.

The Disturbed Ghost: OR, The Wonderful Appearance of the Ghost, or Spirit of Edward Avon... Tune Aim not two High, or Kings Tryal (Philip Brooksby, 1670-98). Douce 1(56b). Crime – murder, robbery/theft; Death – accident; Family – children/parents, siblings, kin; Religion – ghosts/spirits, sin/repentance; Violence – interpersonal; Economy – money; Emotions – anxiety, guilt, shame; Morality – general; Environment – flowers/trees; News – sensational; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – tobacco. The troubled ghost of a recently deceased man returns to Marlborough, where he asks his relatives to settle a monetary debt and also confesses to a murder that he committed several decades earlier.

A Godly Guide of Directions for true penitent Sinners in these troubled times… Tune is, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.189; EBBA 30660. Religion – Bible, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, charity, church, mortality; Death – general, godly end; Emotions – frustration, anxiety, hope; Morality – general, social/economic. A song that expresses extreme concern about the sinfulness of society and urges everyone to mend their ways, leave their sins and turn to God.

The Great Assize; Or, Christ’s certain and sudden appearance to Judgment... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 1.132-33; EBBA 30082. Religion – Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, angels/devils; Death – general; Family – children/parents, kin; Bodies – health/sickness; Environment – animals, flowers/trees; Recreation – general. A song that urges us not to love the things of this world, but instead to prepare for death, repent our sins and turn to God in the hope that we will end up in heaven rather than hell.

Great Brittains Arlarm to Drowsie Sinners in Destress... The Tune is, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 2.203-03; EBBA 30669. Religion – Christ/God, mortality, prayer, divine intervention; Death – general; Morality – general, social/economic, romantic/sexual, familial; Society – criticism, old/young, rich/poor, neighbours; Emotions – frustration, sorrow, hope; Family – children/parents; Environment – flowers/trees, animals; Recreation – alcohol; Economy – money. This presents a stern warning about sinfulness, and argues that we can only avoid further heavy judgements from God if we repent and reform.

The Troubles of these Times, OR, The Calamities of our English Nation... To the Tune of, A Lesson for all true Christians (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.456; EBBA 30930. Religion – Christ/God, divine intervenetion, sin/repentance, prayer; Economy – hardship; Emotions – anxiety, guilt; Morality – general; Politics – foreign affairs; Society – criticism. A song that laments England’s current troubles – particularly warfare and economic hardship – and urges everyone to turn to God in true repentance.

The YOUTHS Guide... Tune of, A Lesson for all true Christians; Or, My bleeding heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 1014; EBBA 33629. Death – illness, godly end, providential; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell, Bible; Society – old/young; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Gender – sex; Morality – general; Places – English; Politics – plots; Recreation – alcohol. A young man on his deathbed exhorts us all, particularly those who are youthful, to heed the signs that God has recently sent, fly from sin and prepare for Judgement Day.

A Recollection of the Times.  OR Englands Looking-Glass... The Tune of, Aim not too high (E. Oliver, c. 1672-85). Bodleian 4o Rawl. 566(69). Religion – Christ/God, divine intervention, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, church; Violence – divine; Environment – buildings; Bodies – health/sickness; Death – illness; Economy – trade, extortion; Emotions – frustration, sorrow; Family – children/parents; Morality – social/economic; Places – English. This points out that God has sent England numerous warnings in the form of fire and pestilence but there is little evidence that people are endeavouring to repent their sins and lead more moral lives.

A Letter for a Christian Family. Directed to all true Christians to Read... To the Tune of, The Godly Mans Instruction  (registered 1675; J. C., W. T., and T. P., 1684-86).  Pepys, 2.33v; EBBA 20657.  Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, Bible, Christ/God, church; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; Society – criticism, old and young, rich/poor; Recreation - fashions.  Comprehensive moral and religious guidance for all sorts.

The Hartford-shires Murder.  OR Bloody news from St. Albans… Tune of, Aim not too high; Or, Fortune my Foe (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80) . Bod Wood E 25 (103).  Crime – murder, robbery/theft; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Bodies – injury; Employment – agrarian; Environment – landscape, animals; Economy – money, trade; Emotions – fear, horror; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, travel/transport; Religion – Christ/God. A gang of robbers attack two honest farmers, one of whom dies, and the criminals remain at large, despite the fact that the surviving farmer managed to raise the alarm.

A Discription of Plain-dealing, Time, and Death, Which all Men ought to mind whilst they do live on earth... To the Tune of, A Letter for a Christian Family (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Crawford 564; EBBA 32998.  Death – general; Emotions – sorrow; Employment – professions; Society – criticism; History – nostalgia, medieval; Morality – general; Gender – sex; Recreation – alcohol. This presents speeches by Plain-Dealing, Conscience and Time, each of whom complains that people nowadays pay them no attention, and it concludes with a stern address from Death who warns that all of us ‘to the Grave must go’.

A godly song for all penitent sinners In these Sinful Times... To the Tune of, A Lesson for all True Chrisians (F. Coles, T. Vere. J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80).  Pepys 2.50; EBBA 20674. Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, mortality, church, Catholic/Protestant, prayer, charity, faith, heaven/hell; Society – criticism; Death – general, accident; Emotions – frustration; Family – children/parents; Morality – social/economic, general. This argues that England has never been better served by preachers, yet the sins of society continue unabated and repentance is urgently required.

God’s great and wonderful work in Somerset-shire, the charitable Farmer miraculously Rewarded... The tune is aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and John Clarke, 1676). Wood  276b(101). Environment – crops, wonders; Religion – charity, divine intervention, Bible, heroism, Christ/God; News – sensational; Economy – prices/wages, hardship/prosperity, rural/urban; Society – rich/poor, rural life;Employment – agrarian; Emotions – wonder; Places – English; Bodies – nourishment; Family – children/parents; Morality – general. A song about a generous farmer who sells his wheat below market price in order to help the suffering poor, despite the scorn of other wealthy men, and God rewards him with a bumper crop.

The Young Mans Counsellor... Tune of, Aim not to high (Richard Hardy, 1676-85). Roxburgh 4.47; EBBA 31330. Society – friendship, neighbours; Gender – courtship, marriage; Econony – prices/wages, extortion, money, trade; Employment – agrarian, apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Recreation – alcohol, games/sports; Religion – Christ/God; Morality – general. This offers extensive advice on moral living to young men who are just setting out in the world.

A Looking-Glass for Traytors, OR, High Treason Rewarded… Tune of, Aim not too high, Or, Fortune my Foe (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1678-80). Bodleian Library, Wood E25 (33). Crime – treason; Politics – plots, Royalist, domestic, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Death – execution; Violence – punitive, political; Royalty – praise; Places – English; Emotions – anger, relief. A ballad about the trial and execution of Edward Coleman, convicted of high treason following his alleged involvement in the Popish Plot.

A Looking-glass for all true Protestants... To the Tune of, Papists aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1679). Pepys 2.68; EBBA 20692.  Politics – plots, controversy, domestic, Royalist, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Bible; Royalty – general; Emotions – anger, fear, patriotism; Crime – treason. This offers thanks to God for deliverance from the Popish Plot and calls on all Protestants to be vigilant and repentant.

A Ballad of the Strange and Wonderful Storm of Hail, Which fell in LONDON on the 18th. of May 1680... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, c. 1680). Pepys 2.137; EBBA 20757. Environment – weather, wonders, birds, flowers/trees; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Christ/God, Bodies – injury; Violence – divine; Emotions – horror, wonder; Family – children/parents; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. This interprets an incredibly violent hail storm as a warning from God of the need to repent urgently and prepare for death.

A Caveat for Young-men... Tune, Aim not too high (M. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackery, and T. Passenger, 1680-81). Pepys 2.36; EBBA 20660. Death – general; Gender – masculinity; Religion – mortality, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Society – old/young, rich/poor. A warning to everyone – young men in particular – that death can strike without warning at any stage of life, and it is therefore essential to make spiritual preparation through repentance.

THE Dying Christians friendly Advice... To the Tune of , Aim not too high (C. Dennisson, 1680-95). Pepys 2.43; EBBA 20667. Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, heaven/hell; Death – general; Crime – murder, immorality; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol; Gender – sex; Society - friendship. A ballad that urges us to turn from sin and place our whole trust in Jesus, knowing that he will prove a friend to those whose prayers are sincere.

ENGLANDS Miseries Crown’d with Mercy... To the Tune of Aim not too High (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, c.1681). Pepys 2.225; EBBA 20837. Crime – treason, punishment; Politics – plots, treason, domestic, Royalist; Royalty – prasie; Violence – political; Emotions – horror, relief, patriotism; Religion – Christ/God, divine intervention; Family – siblings; Places – English, travel/transport; Death – execution. This expresses relief that God has intervened by preventing ‘the late horrid Plot’ against Charles II and his brother from achieving its terrible objective.

Witchcraft discovered and punished... To the Tune of, Doctor Faustus: or, Fortune my Foe (no imprint, 1682). Roxburghe 2.531; EBBA 31034. Religion – conjuration/witchcrafts; angels/devils, Christ/God, divine intervention; Crime – witchcraft; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – diabolical, punitive; Gender – femininity; Emotions – horror, relief; Bodies – physique/looks; Family – children/parents; Environment – animals; News – convicts/crimes; Places - English  An account of three condemned witches who have, for many years, been causing death and destruction in Devon.

THE Bloody-minded Husband; OR, The Cruelty of John Chambers... Tune is, Aim not too high (J. Deacon, 1684). Pepys 2.169; EBBA 20786. Crime – murder, punishment, prison; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, domestic; Gender – masculinity, adultery/cuckoldry; Morality – familial; Religion – sin/repentanceEmployment – apprenticeship/service; Bodies – injury; Places – English. This tells the story of a vicious and lascivious husband who commissioned the murder of his wife because he preferred his harlot.

CRIMINALS CRUELTY... Tune is Aim not too high (J. Deacon, 1684). Pepys 2.153; EBBA 20771. Crime – murder, prsion, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Bodies – injury; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – horror; Gender – masculinity, femininity; Morality – general; Environment – buildings; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance. This describes the crimes of John Wise who robbed and murdered a widow who lived alone in a cellar but is now brought to justice following the dying confession of one of his accomplices.

The Bloody VINTNER: OR, Cruelty Rewarded with Justice...To the Tune of, Aim not too high (no imprint, 1684). Bodleian Library, Douce Ballads 1(23bv). Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal; Gender – marriage, masculinity; Emotions – horror; Employment – apprenticeship/service, crafts/trades; Bodies – injury; Morality – romantic/sexual, general; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English. We are all warned to fear God by the example of a vintner who brutally murdered his young wife and who now faces execution.

Sad news from Salisbury... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (P. Brooksby, c.1685) . Euing 159; EBBA 31877. Environment – weather, landscape; Death – tragedy, accident; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance; Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Bodies – injury; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror; Morality – general; News – domestic; Places – English. Freezing conditions have killed numerous people in the west country, and this ballad interprets the extreme weather as a warning to us all of the need to reform our sinful lives.

DISNY’S Last Farewell... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1685). Pepys 2.154; EBBA 20772. Crime – treason, punishment; Death – execution; Politics – plots, treason, Royalism, obedience, domestic; Family – children/parents. William Disney expresses his remorse for having supported the Monmouth rebellion and prepares to face execution.

THE Young-Mans Repentance, OR, The sorrowful Sinners Lamentation... Tune is, Aim not too high (J. Back, 1685-88). Pepys 2.37; EBBA 20661.  Religion - sin/repentance, church, Christ/God, saints, faith, heaven/hell, prayer; Death – illness; Gender – sex; Society - old/young; Emotions – sorrow; Morality – general. A man who has lived an immoral life now faces death in a mood of profound regret, and he is keen to warn others about the folly of his ways.

The Downfal of Pride... To the Tune of Aim not too High (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back,  1688-96). Pepys 2.59; EBBA 20683. Family – children/parents, siblings, kin, inheritance; Gender – femininity; Morality – familial; Economy – hardship/prosperity, money; Emotions – disdain, love; Bodies – adornment; Crime – prison; Employment – professions; Society - education. A wealthy couple dote on their oldest daughter while treating the younger one like a servant, but in the end she rescues her mother and sister with exemplary kindness when her father dies and the family falls on hard times.

GUN-POWDER Plot... To the Tune of Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1688-96). Pepys 2.370; EBBA 20990. Politics – plots, parliament, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, divine intervention; Crime – treason; Violence – political; Emotions – horror, relief, patriotism; History – recent, villainy; Royalty – praise. This recounts the story of Catesby and his fellow ‘Roman’ plotters, who attempted to blow up king and parliament during the reign of James I.

The Bedfordshire Prophesie... To the Tune of Bernard’s Vision, or, Aim not too high (no publisher named, 1690) . Pepys 2.69; EBBA 20693. Death – godly end, illness, providential; Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist; Religion – Christ/God, prophecy, sin/repentance, divine intervention; Royalty – praise; Family – general; News – sensational; Bodies – health/sickness; Places – English. A godly man dies for twelve hours but is then restored to life for seven days so that he can urge repentance and reassure the English that King William will prove victorious in Ireland.

Englands Tribute of Tears, On the Death of his Grace the DUKE of GRAFTON... Tune is, The Watch for a Wise Man’s Observation: Or, Aim not too high (J. Millet, c.1690). Pepys 2.365; EBBA 20984. Politics – foreign affairs, Royalist, obedience, celebration; Death – warfare; Violence – between states; Emotions – sorrow, pride, patriotism; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Royalty – praise;  Bodies – injury; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell, heroism; News – international, political; Places – Irish. This brings the sad news of the death in battle of the Duke of Grafton, and it recounts his great deeds in the war in Ireland.

The Bloody Murtherer: OR, The Sorrowful Lamentation of James Selbee... To the Tune of, Aim not to High (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1691). Pepys 2.200; EBBA 20814. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry, sex, marriage; Employment – alehouses/inns, prostitution; Recreation – alcohol, hospitality; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, prayer; Morality – romantic/sexual, general; Places – English. The repentant last words of a debauched man who murdered the landlady-prostitute with whom he had just had drunken sex.

The Distressed gentlewoman; Or, Satan’s Implacable Malice... The Tune is, Aim not too High (Imprint damaged: P. Brooksby, J. D and [?], c.1691). Pepys 2.74; EBBA 20698. Religion – church, Bible, angels/devils, clergy, Christ/God, prayer; Bodies – health/sickness; Employment – professions; Emotions – anxiety, hope; Gender – femininity; News – domestic; Places – English. This describes the on-going ordeal of a godly young woman who is currently possessed by a devil and prone to blasphemous outbursts that upset all witnesses.

A Looking-Glass for a Christian Family... The Tune is, Aim not too High (no imprint, later seventeenth century).  Roxburghe 2.283; EBBA 30740.  Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, heaven/hell, divine intervention; Morality – general; Family – children/parents; Society – criticism. A call to repentance, emphasising the sinful state of the English nation.


An intriguing additional ballad that may well have been sung to the tune is Martin Parker’s The honest plaine dealing Porter: Who once was a rich man, but now tis his lot, To proue that need will make the old wife trot (c. 1630). The melody is here named ‘the Maids A.B.C.’ and our best guess is that this derives from an early and now lost edition of The Virgins ABC (listed above). If so, then it seems likely that Parker took the unusual step of deploying the melody for satirical effect. The mood of misery that was carried by ‘Fortune’ adds dark humour to a text in which a lowly London porter explains that, despite having fallen from wealth into poverty, he is entirely happy with his lot. Parker, a prolific ballad-writer, hardly ever wrote songs to the tune of ‘Fortune my foe’, and this therefore looks like a bubble-pricking comic intervention.

The melody was also nominated occasionally for the singing of white-letter ballads such as A Miraculous Cure for Witchcraft Or Strange News from the Blew-Boar in Holdborn (1670) and A New Scotch Ballad: Call’d Bothwel-Bridge (1679). Ross Duffin has also shown that playwrights of the period sometimes composed songs for the stage that were probably intended for the melody.

In addition, the tune was also used for several songs that appeared in printed books. See, for example: ‘The most cruell murther of Edward the fifth’ in Richard Johnsons Golden Garland (1620);  ‘On the death of King JOHN who was poisoned by a Monk’ in the 1674 edition of Thomas Deloney’s Royal Garland of Love and Delight; and ‘A song against Fortune and those that have or doe defend the same’ in John Rhodes’ The Countrie Mans Comfort. Or Religious Recreations fitte for all well disposed persons (edition of 1637).

The last of these is the most interesting in that it confronts directly the reliance on fortune that is expressed in the original, romantic song. Rhodes, a clergyman, urges singers and listeners to trust in God instead. The trajectory of the melody during the seventeenth century, from romance towards religion and morality, would therefore have pleased him.

Another churchman, William Slatyer, set two metrical psalms to ‘Fortune’, noting that it was one of ‘the most noted and common, but solemne tunes, every where in this Land familiarly used and knowne’. And Richard Corbet, yet another man of the cloth, recommended that one of his poems was ‘to be sung or whistled, to the tune of the Medow Brow by the learned, by the unlearned to the tune of Fortune’, though his humorous intent is suggested by the fact that the lyrics do not fit our tune at all comfortably (Certain elegant poems, 1647).

Not surprisingly, references to this tune are also found in many other forms of literature. In Richard Brome’s The Antipodes (1638), a character called Joyless demonstrates his joylessness by merely whistling the melody. In 1682, a character quoted by Alexander Oldys noted the shame experienced by miscreants when they were  ‘sung about the Streets in a Ballad to the tune of Fortune my Foe’ (The Fair Extravagant). And Aphra Behn’s play, The Roundheads (1682), includes a scene in which a group of Royalists humiliate two former parliamentarians to the tune of Fortune, forcing one of them to dance (this is surely a black joke, for ‘Fortune’ was never a dance melody).

And the tune’s romantic associations seem to be in play when a character in D’Avenant’s Love and honour (1649) commends the woman he loves for her skill on the virginals, adding ‘I’d wish no more of heven/ Than once to hear her play Fortune my foe/ Or John come kisse me now’. Interestingly, the same pair of tunes was mentioned more disparagingly by the composer Matthew Locke, who scorned another musician’s new-fangled scheme for tuning the viol because it restricted players to ‘such lean stuff as Fortune my Foe, or John come kiss me now’. To Locke’s refined ears, this exceptionally successful melody clearly had its limitations.

Christopher Marsh


William Ballet’s lute book, Trinity College Dublin, MS 408, pp. 14 and 111.

William Barley’s New Booke of Tabliture (1596).

Aphra Behn, The Roundheads (1682), p. 56.

Alexander Brome, Rump, or, An exact collection of the choicest poems and songs (1662), p. 56.

Richard Brome, The Antipodes (1638), G1r.

Richard Corbet, Certain elegant poems (1647), p. 47.

William Corkine, Ayres, to Sing and Play (1610), F2v.

Robert Creighton, virginal book, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Conservatoire Rés. 1186, fo. 24.

William D’Avenant, Love and honour (1649), p. 7.

Thomas Deloney, The Royal Garland of Love and Delight (1674), A5r-6r.

Ross W. Duffin, Some other note. The lost songs of English Renaissance comedy (Oxford, 2018), pp. 200-01, 395 and 536.

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, ed. J. A. Fuller Maitland and W. Barclay Squire, 2 vols (Leipzig, 1894-99), vol. 1, p. 254.

Richard Johnson, The Golden Garland (1620), E3r-5r.

Matthew Locke, Observations upon a late book, entituled, An essay to the advancement of musick &c, written by Thomas Salmon (1672), p. 33.

Clement Matchett’s virginal book, ed. Thurston Dart (1957), p. 11.

Christopher Marsh, Music and Society in Early Modern England (2010), p. 238.

Alexander Oldys, The Fair Extravagant, or, the Humorous Bride (1682), p. 82.

Oliver Pygge, Meditations Concerning Praiers to Almighty God (1589), E2r.

John Rhodes, The Countrie Mans Comfort. Or Religious Recreations fitte for all well disposed persons (edition of 1637), B8v-C1r.

Claude M. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballads and its Music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 225-31.

William Slatyer, Psalmes, or songs of Sion turned into the language, and set to the tunes of a strange land (1631), table at back.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Naked man awakening

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This woodcut was strongly associated with two hit religious ballads: Saint Bernards Vision. and The Dead Mans Song. On the first of these, the nearly naked man represents the famous French saint, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, rising from his bed after having experienced a vision. The second, our current focus, also describes a vision, but in this case, the individual concerned is gravely ill rather than sleeping. The woodcut appears on multiple editions of each of these ballads. It seems that the depicted individual represented an intermediary between heaven and earth, somebody charged with educating his contemporaries about what lay ahead and its pressing implications for the here and now. The strong connection between the image and these two songs presumably explains why the Naked man awakening did not appear regularly on other ballads.

All surviving copies of the picture were produced from the same woodblock, which continued in use even after it was riddled with woodworm and cracked. Its retention as the artistic detail became harder and harder to discern is a testament to its popularity. Consumers did not need a pristine image because they already knew what they were looking at.

Having said this, the image was re-carved in the eighteenth century, and it continued to illustrate editions of Saint Bernards Vision. The marketability of this saint long after the Reformation is interesting, though it is notable that, in his ballad appearances, he wisely makes no mention of purgatory.

Songs and summaries

Saint Bernards Vision.  OR,  A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) betweene the Soule and the Body of a damned man newly deceased (J. Wright, 1602-46). Roxburghe 1.376-77; EBBA 30253. Religion – body/soul, angels/devils, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Death – result of immorality, burial/funeral; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – anger, despair, hope; History – ancient/mythological; Morality – general. The narrator, recalling a vision, describes an acrimonious encounter between a corpse and the immortal soul that previously inhabited it, each blaming the other for the death and damnation that they have suffered (picture placement: he appears beneath the title).

The Dead Mans Song.  Whose Dwelling was near Basing Hall, in London (J. C., W. T., and T. P., 1684-86).  Pepys 2.8-9; EBBA 21666.  Religion – heaven/hell, sin/repentance, body/soul, angels/devils, Christ/God, Death – illness; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – wonder; Nature – animals, flowers/trees, wonders; Recreation – music, sight-seeing; Society – neighbours; Violence – diabolical, punitive; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage.  A seriously sick man is shown a vision of heaven and hell before regaining consciousness and telling his family and neighbours of the wonders he has witnessed (picture placement: he appears over the last two columns of text).


It seems likely that this woodcut may originally have appeared in a book rather than a ballad but we have so far not located such a source.

Christopher Marsh


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Related Texts

This song was based squarely upon William Crashaw’s Dialogue betwixt the soule and the body of a damned man. Each laying the fault upon the other. Transcribed out of an ancient copy, and put into plaine English meeter (1613). This work presented two different title-pages, one in Latin and one in English, and the poem that followed was printed in both languages, on facing pages. The Latin title-page attributed the vision a little half-heartedly to St. Bernard and, in subsequent editions, this detail was included in the English title too. Editions that were issued from 1616 onwards also explained that Crashaw’s ‘ancient copy’ was a ‘manuscript’, rather than a printed text.

The manuscript to which Crashaw referred clearly contained a version of the medieval poem that is often known as the Visio Philiberti, after a hermit named Philiberte who is the recipient of the vision in several renditions (attributions to St. Bernard were less common). Crashaw, the owner of a substantial personal library, explained in his preface that his friends had encouraged him to ‘English’ the text and ‘make it common’. His aim was to encourage devotion, and he hoped readers would engage with it, even though it was ‘made in the mist of Popery’. He insisted that the poem, despite its origin, was ‘not tainted with Popish corruption’ and was actually ‘stuft with godly truthes’. This was an important point, given that Crashaw was an eminent Protestant preacher who devoted much of his working life to the refutation of alleged Catholic errors.

The Visio Philiberti was an exceptionally well-known medieval debate-poem that probably originated in the thirteenth century. It existed in Latin and vernacular variants all over Europe and was still in circulation during the fifteenth century. Over one hundred and fifty manuscripts containing the poem are extant, an extraordinary number given the inevitably low survival rates of such sources (and many more examples must have circulated orally). It clearly intersected with the interests of priests and people everywhere, and scholars have noted that its generic nature – the body and the soul have no specific identity – rendered it immensely adaptable to local circumstances.

Several versions in middle English exist and the narrative and stylistic similarities with Crashaw’s later translation are immediately apparent. A fifteenth century version (see Halliwell), describes the trajectory and outcome of the argument in strikingly similar terms and includes numerous expressions  and literary devices that also occur in Crashaw’s text. In the medieval version, for example, the soul mocks the body for having exchanged its sumptuous buildings for an earthy grave: ‘For now thy haulle roofe lyth upon that noose [nose]’. In Crashaw’s version, the soul also refers to this grave, ‘The roofe whereof/ lyes even with thy nose’.

Many such points of contact could be cited, and they also connect Crashaw’s translation with other middle-English versions of the text (Garner). Crashaw can thus be credited with reviving a famous medieval poem that had apparently faded in popularity during the sixteenth century. His text went through four editions between 1613 and 1632.

Just as Crashaw depended upon the medieval debate-poem, so the ballad-makers depended upon him. The two versions are very closely related throughout the argument, and it seems certain that the ballad was a broadside response to the success of the book. Crashaw’s poem is longer than the song but it is obvious that the ballad-makers worked through his text and generally restricted themselves to adjustments that were necessary in order to produce a single-sheet ballad that could be sung to an existing melody (see Featured tune history). Several sections are abbreviated and a new rhyme-scheme necessitates changes to some of the language but the dependence of the ballad on the book is never in doubt.

Numerous expressions occur in both versions (including ‘the body resteth dead’, ‘thy guilt exceedeth mine’ and ‘flattering fancies’, for example) and even re-written verses are markedly similar to Crashaw’s translations. Compare, for example, the following speeches, made by the soul: ‘I, I poore soule/ oh! I a noble creature,/ Formed and made/ in likeness of my God,/ Adorn’d with Graces/ of most comely feature/ And now chang’d/ as fouler then a Toad’ (Crashaw); and ‘But I (poore Soule) was fram’d a noble creature,/ In likenesse to my God, of heavenly feature:/ But by thy sinne, whilst we on Earth aboade,/ I am made fouler than a loathsome Toade’. The poor toad was the go-to amphibian for any ballad-maker who hoped to shock early-modern Christians out of their complacency (See also A most notable example of an ungracious Son, who in the pride of his heart denyed his own Father).

The ballad-makers introduce only a handful of slightly more significant changes. The speech of the devils is expanded, perhaps in recognition of their dramatic potential (fully realised by the singers on our recording). The soul’s cruel revelation that the body’s wife and children ‘loath thy Carcas, lying in the Dust’ does not appear in Crashaw’s text, and it may provide a rare indication that the ballad-makers were also familiar with other versions of the story (a similar remark occurs in some of the surviving medieval manuscripts: see Ackerman, p. 562).

There were some telling deletions too. References to the immense material wealth of the body are cut back somewhat and a question about whether God will look with particular favour on kings and great men in the afterlife is dropped. The effect may have been to reduce the feudal feel of the original; by the seventeenth century, few people can have considered seriously the possibility that aristocrats might escape hell as one of the perks of high status.

The conclusion of the story is also adjusted. Crashaw followed his medieval manuscript in describing the soul’s eventual disappearance into hell and the narrator’s immediate decision to forsake the world and devote his life to God, presumably by entering a monastery. The ballad-makers retain the soul’s entry into hell but they drop the reference to monastic devotion, probably  because it seemed out of place in Reformation England (monks featured in some seventeenth-century ballads but were normally figures of fun). The authors introduce instead ‘A beauteous young man, cloathed all in white’ with ‘Wings like the Raynebow, and... hayre like Gold’. Before disappearing in a cloud, this angelic figure urges the narrator to record his experiences in writing (a similar individual appears in The Dead Mans Song).

Here, the ballad-makers were perhaps aiming to lift the mood by injecting positive energy, in the hope ‘That each good Christian may in time repent’. Readers/listeners had time to put things right, unlike the ballad’s doomed discussants. It is interesting that a later seventeenth transcription of Crashaw’s text by John Dunton made a similar attempt to brighten the tone in the final verses. The heavyweight medievalism of the story was clearly vital to its appeal but seventeenth-century editors sometimes seem to have sensed the need of potential purchasers for a little more hope amid the horror.

Perhaps this amendment is related to a broader shift: Saint Bernards Vision, a text that had almost certainly begun life as an instrument of medieval priestly didacticism, became a song through which members of the laity – producers and consumers – instructed and entertained one another during  the Reformation era. The narrative can be understood as one of the deep continuities that connected these very different religious worlds. It clearly met a need, and successive editions of the ballad preserved the medieval debate-poem long after it had lost currency in more sophisticated literature.

Several other body-soul dialogues and related texts were also published in seventeenth-century England (Osmond), but Crashaw’s text was unusual in its close relationship to Saint Bernards Vision. It would be interesting to know how the esteemed clergyman felt about the ballad’s success, given its unacknowledged dependence on his library and his labours.

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Anon, ‘The fadyr of pytté and most of myserycorde’(c. 1460) in J. O. Halliwell, Early English miscellanies in prose and verse, edited from an inedited manuscript of the fifteenth century (1855), pp. 12-39.

William Crashaw, Querela sive, dialogus animae et corporis damnati, quem aiunt S. Bernardam composuisse. Ex vetusto codice descripta/ The dialogue betwixt the soule and the body of a damned man. Each laying the fault upon the other. Transcribed out of an ancient copy, and put into plaine English meeter (1613). 

Saint Bernards Vision. Or, A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) betweene the Soule and the Body of a damned man newly deceased, laying open the faults of each other: With a speech of the Divels in Hell. To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (composed c. 1613; edition of c. 1640).

John Dunton, The pilgrims guide from the cradle to his death-bed (1684), pp. 213-24.


Robert W. Ackerman, ‘The debate of the body and the soul in parochial Christianity’, Speculum 37.4 (October, 1962), pp. 541-65.

Neil Cartlidge, ‘In the silence of a midwinter night: a re-evaluation of the “Visio Philiberti”’, Medium AEvum 75.1 (2006), pp. 24-45.

Sarah Garner, ‘Transmission as Revision: The Debate between the Body and the Soul’: http://digital.wustl.edu/r/revision/Debate_Transmission/context.html

W. H. Keliher, ‘Crashawe [Crashaw], William (bap. 1572, d. 1625/6)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography.

Rosalie Osmond, Mutual accusations. Seventeenth century body and soul dialogues in their literary and theological context (Toronto, 1990).

Mary Patrick Tuck, ‘A study of body-and-soul poetry in old and middle English’, PhD thesis, North Texan State University (1979).

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Saint Bernards Vision./ OR,/ A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) beweene the Soule and the Body of a dam/ned man newly deceased, laying open the faults of each other: With a speech/ of the Divels in Hell.  To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


The Writer speaketh

AS I lay slumbring in my Bed one Night,

A fearefull Vision did me sore affright:

Me thought I saw a Soule departed late,

By it the Body, in a poore estate.


Wailing with sighes, the Soule aloud did cry

Upon the Body, in the Coffin by:

And thus the Soule to it did make her moane,

With grievous sobs, and many a bitter groane.


The Soule speaketh.

O sinfull Flesh, which now so low doth lye,

Whom yesterday the World esteem’d so hye;

It was but yesterday the World was thine,

Thy Sunne is set, which yesterday did shine.


Where is that Traine that did attend on thee?

Where is thy Mirth? where is thy Jollitie?

Where are thy sumptuous Buildings, and thy Treasure?

Thy pleasant Walks, in which thou took’st such pleasure?


Gone is thy Traine, thy Mirth to mourning turn’d,

Thou in a Coffin in thy Shrine art Urn’d:

For thy rich Clothes, thou hast a Winding=sheet,

Thy high=built Roofe now with thy Nose doth meet.


But I (poore Soule) was fram’d a noble creature,

In likenesse to my God, of heavenly feature:

But by thy sinne, whilst we on Earth aboade,

I am made fouler than a loathsome Toade.


O wretched Flesh, with me that art forlorne,

That well mayst wish thou never hadst bin borne;

Thou never would’st to any good agree,

For which we evermore shall damned bee.


I am and must for ever be in paine,

No tongue can tell the torments I sustaine;

Both thou and I, we must descend to Hell,

[W]here we in frying flames for aye must dwell.


It was thy Pride, Deceit, and Luxurie,

Hath brought these torments both on me and thee;

Thy Wife, thy Children, Friends, which thou didst trust,

Doth loath thy Carcass, lying in the Dust.


The Booke of God, which is both true and sure,

Witnesse at large what sinners shall endure:

Thou that within thy Bed of Earth art layd,

Arise, and answer to these things I sayd.


The Body answereth.

I know thee well, my Soule, which from me fled,

Which left my Body senseless, cold, and dead:

Cease then to say, the fault was all in mee,

When I will prove the fault was most in thee.


Thou say’st, that I have led thee oft astray,

And from well-doing drawne thee quite away,

But if the Flesh the Spirits power can move,

The fault is thine, as I will plainly prove.


God you doe know, created thee most faire,

And of Celestiall knowledge gave you share:

I was your servant, form’d of Durt and Clay;

You to command, and I for to obay.


‘Twas in your power for to restraine my will,

And not to let me doe those things were ill.

The Bodies workes be from the Soule derived,

And by the Soule the Body should be guided.


The Body of it selfe none ill hath knowne:

If I did what thou bidst, the guilt’s thine own:

For without thee, the Body resteth dead;

The Soule commands it rests upon thy head.


So to conclude, thy guilt exceedeth mine;

Oh, how the wormes doe teare me in my Shrine!

And therefore fare thou well, poore sinfull Soule,

Whose trespasses passe mine, though they are foule.


The second part.  To the same tune.


The Soule answereth.

MOst wretched Flesh, which in thy time of life

Wast foolish, idle, vaine, and full of strife;

Though of my substance thou didst speake to me,

I doe confesse I should have bridled thee.


But thou through love of pleasure foule and ill,

Still me resisted and would have thy will:

When I would thee (O Body) have control’d,

Straight the worlds vanities did thee with=hold.


So thou of me didst get the upper hand,

Inthralling mee in worldly pleasures band,

That thou and I eternall shall be drown’d

In Hell, when glorious Saints in Heaven are crown’d.


But flatt’ring fancies did thy mind so please,

Thou never thought to dye, till death did seaze:

This was thy fault, and cursed is our fate,

Which we repent, but now alas too late.


The Body speaketh.

Oh now I weep being scourg’d with mine owne rod,

Wee both stand guilty ‘fore the face of God:

Both are in fault, and yet not equally,

The greatest burthen (Soule) on thee doth lye.


No wit so meane, but this for truth it knowes,

That where most gifts of vertue God bestowes,

There most is due, and ought repayed bee;

And unto this there’s none but will agree.


But foolishly thou yeeldedst unto mee,

And to my vaine desires didst soone agree;

But (oh) I know that at the latter houre,

Both thou and I shall find a death most soure.


I greatly feare an everlasting fire,

Yet one thing more of thee I doe desire:

Hast thou been yet amongst the fiends of Hell?

Is no hope left, that we with Christ may dwell?


The Soule answereth.

Fond flesh, remember Dives was denay’d,

When for one drop of water so he pray’d:

Thy question (senseless Body) wanteth reason,

Redemption now is hopelesse, out of season.


Vile Body goe, and rot in bed of Clay,

Untill the great and generall Judgement day:

Then shalt thou rise and be with me condemn’d,

To Hells hot lake, for ever without end.


So fare thou well, I must no longer stay,

Harke how the fiends of Hell call mee away:

The losse of Heavenly joyes tormenteth mee

More than all tortures that in Hell can be.


The Divells speake.

Ho, are you come, whom we expected long?

Now wee will make you sing another song:

Howling and yelling still shall be your note,

And molten lead be powred downe your throat.


Such horror we doe on our servants load,

Now thou art worse than is the crawling Toad:

Ten thousand thousand torments thou shalt bide,

When thou in flaming Sulphure shalt be fride.


Thou art a souldier of our campe enrol’d,

Never henceforth shalt thou the light behold:

The paines prepard for thee no tongue can tell,

Welcome, O welcome to the pit of Hell.


The Writer speaketh.

At this the groaning Soule did weepe most sore,

And then the fiends with joy did laugh and roare:

These Divells seemd more blacke than pitch or night,

Whose horrid shapes did sorely me affright.


Sharpe steely forkes each in his hand did beare,

Tusked their teeth, like crooked mattocks were,

Fire and Brimstone then they breathed out,

And from their nostrils Snakes crawl’d round about.


Foule filthy hornes on their blacke browes they wore,

Their nayles were like the tushes of a Bore:

Those fiends in chaines fast bound this wretched Soule,

And drag’d him in, who grievously did howle.


Then straight me thought appeared to my sight

A beautious young man, cloathed all in white,

His face did shine, most glorious to behold,

Wings like the Raynebow, and his hayre like Gold.


With a sweet voyce, All haile, all haile (quoth he)

Arise and write what thou didst heare and see:

Most heavenly musicke seemed then to play,

And in a cloud he vanisht quite away.


Awaking straight, I tooke my pen in hand,

To write these lines the yong man did command,

And so into the world abroad it sent,

That each good Christian may in time repent.


Then let us feare the Lord both night and day,

Preserve our Soules and Bodies wee thee pray,

Grant that we may so run this mortall race,

That wee in Heaven may have a resting place.


Preserve the King, the Queene and Progeny,

The Clergy, Councell, and Nobility,

Preserve our soules, O Lord, we doe thee pray,

Amen, with me let all good Christians say.


Printed at London for J. Wright, dwelling in Gilt-spur street.

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This ballad is included according to the criteria for List A (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

Shirburn ballads: not included.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Coles, Wright, Vere and Gilberston, 1656; Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 (as 'Bernard's Visions').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 9

No. of extant copies: 7

New tune-titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 10 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V5822).

POINTS: 0 + 20 + 0 + 18 + 7 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 45

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This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

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