19 - Demon Lover / The House Carpenter

Words by Laurence Price
Tune by Traditional

This was a very popular ballad written by London-based ballad writer Laurence Price in 1657. The earliest printed version had this introduction: "A Warning for Married Women, being an example of Mrs Jane Reynolds (a West-country woman), born near Plymouth, who, having plighted her troth to a Seaman, was afterwards married to a Carpenter, and at last carried away by a Spirit, the manner how shall be presently recited."

The sad cautionary tale of the devil's wiles and the risks of infidelity can work well as a duet, alternating verses sung by the sailor and the woman. These lyrics are from the Joan Baez version.

Well met, well met, my own true love, well met, well met," cried he
“I’ve just returned from the salt, salt sea all for the love of thee.”

“I could have married the King’s daughter dear, she would have married me
But I have forsaken her crowns of gold all for the love of thee.”

“Well, if you could have married the King’s daughter dear, I’m sure you are to blame
For I am married to a house carpenter, and find him a nice young man.”

“Oh, will you forsake your house carpenter and go along with me?
I’ll take you to where the grass grows green, to the banks of the salt, salt sea.”

“Well, if I should forsake my house carpenter and go along with thee
What have you got to maintain me on and keep me from poverty?”

“Six ships, six ships all out on the sea, seven more upon dry land
One hundred and ten all brave sailor men will be at your command.”

She picked up her own wee babe, kisses gave him three
Said "Stay right here with my house carpenter and keep him good company

Then she putted on her rich attire, so glorious to behold
And as she trod along her way, she shown like the glittering gold

Well, they’d not been gone but about two weeks, I know it was not three
When this fair lady began to weep, she wept most bitterly

“Ah, why do you weep, my fair young maid, weep it for your golden store?
Or do you weep for your house carpenter who never you shall see anymore?”

“I do not weep for my house carpenter or for any golden store
I do weep for my own wee babe, who never I shall see anymore.”

Well, they’d not been gone but about three weeks, I’m sure it was not four
Our gallant ship sprang a leak and sank, never to rise anymore

One time around spun our gallant ship, two times around spun she
Three times around spun our gallant ship and sank to the bottom of the sea

“What hills, what hills are those, my love, that rise so fair and high?”
“Those are the hills of heaven, my love, but not for you and I.”

“And what hills, what hills are those, my love, those hills so dark and low?”
“Those are the hills of hell, my love, where you and I must go.”