The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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III. As I sat on a sunny bank,
A sunny bank, a sunny bank;
As I sat on a sunny bank
On Christmas day in the morning.
I saw three ships come sailing by, Come sailing by, come sailing by; I saw three ships come sailing by On Christmas day in the morning.
And who do you think was in those ships ? &c. But Joseph and his lady.
And he did whistle, and she did sing, And all the bells on earth did ring For joy our Saviour he was born On Christmas day in the morning.
—Burne's Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 564.
[The above verses, except the last one, are sung at Oswestry with these additional ones :—]
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three ? &c. Oh ! they sailed unto Bethlehem, &c. They combed his hair with an ivory comb, &c. They washed his face in a golden cup, &c. They wiped his face with a lily-white cloth, &c. They brushed his shoes with a hairy brush, &c.
—Burne's Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 564.
(c)   In the London version, which I obtained from a maid­servant—two lines of children stand, hand in hand, facing one another. They advance and retire in line, with dancing steps, alternately. The children sing the lines. When the last verse is sung a girl from the end of each line advances, and the two dance round together. This is continued until all have danced in turn in the space between the lines.
(d)  It will be seen that there is a probability of the version I collected as a dance game and Rimbault's nursery song being derived from the Christmas carol, a variant of which I reprint from Miss Burne's Shropshire Folk-lore. A version of this carol from Kent is given in Notes and Queries, 3rd series, iii. 7.

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