The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music

Barb'ry Ellen

In Scarlet town, where I was born
There was a fair maid a dwellin'
Made every youth cry "well a day"
And her name was 5 Barb'ry 1 Ellen

'Twas in the merry month of May
When green buds they were a swellin'
Sweet William on his death bed lay
For the love of Barb'ry Ellen

When he was dead and in his grave
Her heart was struck with sorrow
"Oh mother, oh mother, come make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow."

She on her deathbed as she lay
Begged to be buried by him
And sore repented of the day
That she did e'er deny him

They buried her in the old church yard
And he was buried nigh her
On William's grave grew a red, red rose
On Barb'ry's grew a brier

They grew to the top of the old church wall
Till they could grow no higher
And there they tied a true lover's knot
The red rose 'round the brier

A song from the The ToneWay Mountain Music Collection, which offers lyrics and free Song Clips (recordings for learning the song by ear) for nearly 400 traditional songs, many of which are often heard in bluegrass and old-time jam circles. The ToneWay Project also offers songbooks, CDs, and a free online video series for learning to play music by ear.