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Lyr Req: Christmas Day in the Workhouse

DigiTrad:
CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE WORKHOUSE
WORKHOUSE BOY


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Christmas in the Workhouse (39)
Lyr Req: It's Christmas in the Workhouse (not (15)
(origins) Origins: Christmas Day in the Cookhouse (26)
Lyr Req: Christmas Day in the Workhouse (36)
Lyr Add: Workhouse Boy (29)
Lyr Req: Christmas in the Workhouse Canadian (3)


earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk 06 Aug 97 - 03:25 PM
dick greenhaus 06 Aug 97 - 04:38 PM
earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk 07 Aug 97 - 02:13 PM
hartley 07 Aug 97 - 05:55 PM
hartley 07 Aug 97 - 06:59 PM
hartley 07 Aug 97 - 10:18 PM
earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk 14 Aug 97 - 04:49 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Aug 97 - 11:29 PM
earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk 16 Aug 97 - 10:58 AM
dick greenhaus 16 Aug 97 - 02:59 PM
Jon Bartlett 01 Nov 98 - 11:47 PM
Steve Parkes 24 Nov 98 - 03:56 AM
Bo 27 Nov 98 - 03:21 AM
ChrisJBrady 26 Dec 10 - 06:37 PM
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Subject: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk
Date: 06 Aug 97 - 03:25 PM

It was Christmas Day in the workhouse And the cold bare walls were bright With garlands of green and holly And the place was a pleasnt sight For with clean washed hands and faces In a long and hungry line The paupers sit at their tables For this is the hour they dine ...

That's something like the first verse - anyone know the other twenty-odd? Apparently it was written in 1881 by Gerorge R Sims, but seems to be utterly unavailable, in print, today.

Help gratefuly accepted !


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Aug 97 - 04:38 PM

Hi- Set the filter for Workhouse and the dys for 365.


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk
Date: 07 Aug 97 - 02:13 PM

Cheers, but it doesn't help. I tried earlier. Everything on here seems to be a parody of the original and it is the original I am looking for. Thanks anyway, Earl


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: hartley
Date: 07 Aug 97 - 05:55 PM

Yes! this is the poem or song I was asking about under the Christmas day in the Workhouse thread. I wrote it down last year and have now misplaced it. But the gist is that the minister gives a sermon asking the poor to repent before they eat. They consider it and then get up in mass and tell him where he can put the Christmas turkey. I'll keep looking, but would also appreciate it if someone could come up with the rest of the poem.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN THE WORKHOUSE
From: hartley
Date: 07 Aug 97 - 06:59 PM

Well was I surprised to go right to this little poem after having looked for it for a week. We heard this from the Irish Soap Opera, Glengary. Here is "CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN THE WORKHOUSE" as monologue on the show. Sorry, no turkey just puddin.

It was Christmas night in the workhouse
And the paupers was having their dinners,
And the preacher he called from the top of the hall,
"Get down on your knees, you sinners."

And them poor paupers knelt in that cheerless room
On their benches hard and wooden,
And the preacher called in a voice of doom,
"Bring on the Christmas puddin'."

"Put down your heads," says he with a leer,
"Cause I want you all to think
Of the sins of the flesh that has brung us here,
Tobacco and women and drink."

"And I'm telling yous now and I'm telling yous good..."
And his voice took a dangerous edge...
"No one gets to ate the puddin '
Till everyone takes the pledge."

And a chill of doom ran round the room.
You could cut the air with a knife,
As each man searched in the depths of his soul
For the sins of his wasted life.

And then them paupers rose as one
And said as bold as brass:
"You can keep your Christmas puddin'
And stick it ....

I'm not sure there were twenty-one more lines or if it even really completes the rest of the poem by Sims. It sounds as if it may have been changed by the Irish show writers. But it is similar to Sims and the Canadian version in another thread. Enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: hartley
Date: 07 Aug 97 - 10:18 PM

Sorry it got cut off. Here's the rest. And his voice took a dangerous edge. "No one gets to ate the puddin till everyone takes the pledge.//And a chill of doom ran round the room. You could cut the air with a knife. As each man searched in the depths of his soul for the sins of his wasted life.//And then them paupers rose as one and said as bold as brass. "You can keep your Christmas puddin and stick it .... Not quite 21 lines and may not the exact poem of Sims. May have been adapted for the show. May also be a variant of the Canadian song on another thread? Fun poem in any event.


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk
Date: 14 Aug 97 - 04:49 PM

I've finally found it, in an anthology. If anyone wants a copy, mail me.


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Aug 97 - 11:29 PM

I'd love to see it. specially if it has any attribution. Why not post it here?


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Subject: Lyr Add: IN THE WORKHOUSE (George R. Sims)
From: earl.dandy@cableol.co.uk
Date: 16 Aug 97 - 10:58 AM

Okay, here it is, the original and much parodied In the Workhouse: Christmas Day - thanks to everyone who tried to find it. —Earl.

IN THE WORKHOUSE.
CHRISTMAS DAY.

It is Christmas Day in the Workhouse, and the cold bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly, and the place is a pleasant sight:
For with clean-washed hands and faces, in a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the tables, for this is the hour they dine.

And the guardians and their ladies, although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers, to watch their charges feast;
To smile and be condescending, put pudding on pauper plates,
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet they've paid for—with the rates.

Oh, the paupers are meek and lowly with their "Thank'ee kindly, mum's";
So long as they fill their stomachs, what matter it whence it comes?
But one of the old men mutters, and pushes his plate aside:
"Great God!" he cries; "but it chokes me! for this is the day she died!"

The guardians gazed in horror, the master's face went white;
"Did a pauper refuse their pudding?" "Could their ears believe aright?"
Then the ladies clutched their husbands, thinking the man would die,
Struck by a bolt, or something, from the outraged One on high.

But the pauper sat for a moment, then rose 'mid a silence grim,
For the others had ceased to chatter, and trembled in every limb.
He looked at the guardians' ladies, then, eyeing their lords, he said,
"I eat not the food of villains whose hands are foul and red:

"Whose victims cry for vengeance from their dank, unhallowed graves."
"He's drunk!" said the workhouse master, "or else he's mad, and raves."
"Not drunk or mad," cried the pauper, "but only a hunted beast,
Who, torn by the hounds and mangled, declines the vulture's feast.

"I care not a curse for the guardians, and I won't be dragged away.
Just let me have this fit out, it's only on Christmas Day
That the black past comes to goad me, and prey on my burning brain;
I'll tell you the rest in a whisper,—I swear I won't shout again.

"Keep your hands off me, curse you! Hear me right out to the end.
You come here to see how paupers the season of Christmas spend.
You come here to watch us feeding, as you watch the captured beast.
Hear why a penniless pauper spits on your paltry feast.

"Do you think I will take your bounty, and let you smile and think
You're doing a noble action with the parish's meat and drink?
Where is my wife, you traitors—the poor old wife you slew?
Yes, by the God above us, my Nance was killed by you!

"Last winter my wife lay dying, starved in a filthy den;
I had never been to the parish,—I came to the parish then.
I swallowed my pride in coming, for, ere the ruin came,
I held up my head as a trader, and I bore a spotless name.

"I came to the parish craving bread for a starving wife,
Bread for the woman who'd loved me through fifty years of life;
And what do you think they told me, mocking my awful grief?
That 'the House' was open to us, but they wouldn't give 'out relief.'

"I slunk to the filthy alley—'twas a cold, raw Christmas eve—
And the bakers' shops were open, tempting a man to thieve;
But I clenched my fists together, holding my head awry,
So I came to her empty-handed, and mournfully told her why.

"Then I told her 'the House' was open; she had heard of the ways of that,
For her bloodless cheeks went crimson, and up in her rags she sat,
Crying, 'Bide the Christmas here, John, we've never had one apart;
I think I can bear the hunger,—the other would break my heart.'

"All through that eve I watched her, holding her hand in mine,
Praying the Lord and weeping till my lips were salt as brine.
I asked her once if she hungered, and as she answered 'No,'
The moon shone in at the window set in a wreath of snow.

"Then the room was bathed in glory, and I saw in my darling's eyes
The far-away look of wonder that comes when the spirit flies;
And her lips were parched and parted, and her reason came and went,
For she raved of our home in Devon, where our happiest years were spent.

"And the accents, long forgotten, came back to the tongue once more,
For she talked like the country lassie I woo'd by the Devon shore.
Then she rose to her feet and trembled, and fell on the rags and moaned,
And, 'Give me a crust—I'm famished—for the love of God!' she groaned.

"I rushed from the room like a madman, and flew to the workhouse gate,
Crying, 'Food for a dying woman!' and the answer came, 'Too late.'
They drove me away with curses; then I fought with a dog in the street,
And tore from the mongrel's clutches a crust he was trying to eat.

"Back, through the filthy by-lanes! Back, through the trampled slush!
Up to the crazy garret, wrapped in an awful hush.
My heart sank down at the threshold, and I paused with a sudden thrill,
For there in the silv'ry moonlight my Nance lay, cold and still.

"Up to the blackened ceiling the sunken eyes were cast—
I knew on those lips all bloodless my name had been the last;
She'd called for her absent husband—O God! had I but known!—
Had called in vain, and in anguish had died in that den—alone.

"Yes, there, in a land of plenty, lay a loving woman dead,
Cruelly starved and murdered for a loaf of the parish bread.
At yonder gate, last Christmas, I craved for a human life.
You, who would feed us paupers, what of my murdered wife!

*           *           *           *

"There, get ye gone to your dinners; don't mind me in the least;
Think of the happy paupers eating your Christmas feast;
And when you recount your blessings in your smug parochial way,
Say what you did for me, too, only last Christmas Day."

George R Sims
1881


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Aug 97 - 02:59 PM

Hi Earl- Thank'ee kindly.


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 01 Nov 98 - 11:47 PM

Here's a source for the poem, called "In the Workhouse - Christmas Day" (the words are as Earl has them): Prepare To Shed Them Now: The Ballads of George R. Sims. Intro., sel., ed., Arthur Calder-Marshall, Hutchinson, London, 1968. Jon


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 24 Nov 98 - 03:56 AM

I've just been through this thread more or less by chance. Years ago I was looking for a copy of "Prepare to shed them now", and could I find it? Well, my local library couldn't, but they borrowed a copy of an original G R Sims anthology from the British library for me. I forget the name, but if you want it, that's the place to try. Maybe the Library of Congress has it too.

I suppose it's fairly easy to scan the whole book (if you don't tell anyone!) - I had to recite the whole thing on ot tape!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Workhouse ballad - Lyric needed
From: Bo
Date: 27 Nov 98 - 03:21 AM

I wonder how many of the parodies of this are based in not being able to stand the horror in the poem's image. Very, very powerful.

Thank you.

Bo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Christmas Day in the Workhouse
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 06:37 PM

Back ground to life in the workhouse can be found here:

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/
http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Godstone

Also see the left side bar:

Workhouse Life
...
Christmas

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?/Christmas/Christmas.shtml


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