Barb'ra Allen

Music: Trad. arr. Richard John. Words: Trad. Anon
performance time approx 3m 00s
Range S: e'♭ – e''♭ / A: b♭ – b'♭ / T: e♭ – f' / B: F – d'
Price code: C
Complexity: **

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Barb'ra Allen (also known as Barbry Ellen, Barbara Allen, etc) is a British folk song known in many versions, from at least as early as the 17th century (it is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary for 1666). Richard John's arrangement is warmly harmonised throughout, with a simplicity that allows the choir rather than the music to tell the story of the cruel Barbara. Sporanos and tenors take turns at carrying the melody.


In Scarlet town where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin'
Made every youth cry well-a-day;
Her name was Barb'ra Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin',
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barb'ra Allen.

And death is printed on his face
And o'er his heart is stealin'.
Then haste away to comfort him,
Oh lovely Barb'ra Allen.

So slowly, slowly she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when there she came:
‘Young man, I think you're dying.’

When he was dead and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow.
‘Oh mother, mother, make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow.’

‘Farewell!’, she said, ‘ye maidens all,
And shun the fault I fell in;
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barb'ra Allen.’

Trad. English

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