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The New Lyke Wake Club badge


NEW LYKE WAKE CLUB

THE LYKE WAKE DIRGE

The Lyke Wake Dirge was a popular feature in the folk repertoire of the sixties and seventies, although its origins go much earlier. The best known versions are by Pentangle, Steeleye Span and The Young Tradition, who say:

The dirge as we sing it is an adaptation of Aubrey's manuscript version of 1686. Descriptions of the song have come from Scotland and from the north of England as far south as Yorkshire, and the idea of the departed soul going on a hazardous journey to Purgatory has its parallels throughout Indo-European lore. Widespread too is the belief that alms given by the living will be given back to the donor at the beginning of the soul's journey, so that a pair of shoes given away during the subject's lifetime will enable his soul to cross prickly Whinny Moor without injury. Whether the dirge was sung, chanted or recited over the corpse is not clear; there is no evidence of an air to the dirge in the tradition.

THIS yah neet, this yah neet,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Fire an' fleet an' cannle leet,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

When thoo frae hence away art passed
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Ti Whinny Moor thoo cums at last
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

If ivver thoo gav owther hosen or shoon,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Clap thee doon, an' put 'em on,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

Bud if hosen an' shoon thoo nivver gav neean,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
T'whinnies'll prick thee sair ti t'beean,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

Frae Whinny Moor when thoo art passed,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Ti t'Brig o' Dreead tho cums at last,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

If ivver thoo gav o' thy siller an' gowd,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
On t'Brig o'Dreead thoo'll finnd footho'd,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

Bud if silver an' gowd thoo nivver gav neean,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Thoo'll doon, doon tumle towards Hell fleeame,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

Frae t'Brig o' Dreead when thoo art passed
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Ti t'fleeames o' Hell tho'll cum at last,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

If ivver thoo gav owther bite or sup,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
T'fleeames'll nivver catch thee up,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

Bud if bite or sup thoo nivver gav neean,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
T' flames'll bon thee sair ti t'beean,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

This yah neet, this yah neet,
— Ivvery neet an' all,
Fire an' fleet an' cannle leet,
An' Christ tak up thy saul.

A different version of the dirge may be found on “Johnny” Walker's Scouting Milestones web pages. This one comes complete with musical accompaniment, so maybe not one for the office! Several “Classical” settings of the Dirge also exist, including versions by Benjamin Britten and Doug Constable, both of which have been performed live at previous Wakes!


Last update: 8th May 2011

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