Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now

DESCRIPTION: Each hour the child comes into the tavern, saying, "Father, dear father, come home with me now." Each hour brings worse news: Brother Benny is sick, Benny is calling for you, Benny is dead.
AUTHOR: Henry Clay Work
EARLIEST DATE: 1858 (see notes)
KEYWORDS: drink death father brother family disease
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,Ro,SE,So) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (18 citations):
Work-SongsOf-Henry-Clay-Work, pp. 53-56, "Come Home, Father" (1 text, 1 tune, a copy of the original sheet music)
Randolph 308, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now" (1 text, 1 tune, with the chorus lost and "brother Benny" turned into "little Jenny"!)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 24, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now" (2 texts)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, pp. 260-261, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, p. 144, "The Drunkard Father" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #97, "Father, Come Home" (1 text, 1 tune, which matches the original text almost verbatim except that "Benny" is sometime "baby")
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 275, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadEmAndWeep, pp. 56-58, "Come Home, Father" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #353, p. 24, "Come Home, Father" (1 reference)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 356-357, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now" (1 text)
Emerson-StephenFosterAndCo, pp. 78-79, "Come Home, Father" (1 text)
Heart-Songs, pp. 230-232, "Come Home, Father" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 263, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now" (1 text)
cf. Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan, p. 478, "Come Home, Father" (source notes only)
ADDITIONAL: Aline Waites & Robin Hunter, _The Illustrated Victorian Songbook_, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1984, pp. 34-36, "Come Home, Father" (1 text, 1 tune)
Michael R. Turner, _Victorian Parlour Poetry: An Annotated Anthology_, 1967, 1969 (page references are to the 1992 Dover edition), pp. 14-16, "Come Home, Father" (1 text)
Margaret Bradford Boni, editor, _Songs of the Gilded Age_, with piano arrangements by Norman Lloyd and illustrations by Lucille Corcos, Golden Press, 1960, pp. 131-132, "Come Home, Father" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #839
The Blue Sky Boys, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home" (Bluebird B-8522/Montgomery Ward M-8415, 1940)
James Scott & Claude Boone, "Father Dear Father Come Home" (Decca 5566, 1938)
Peerless Quartet, "Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now" (Victor 19716, 1925)

Bodleian, Harding B 11(2156), "Come Home Father," unknown, n.d.; same broadside as 2806 c.16(156)
cf. "The Drunkard's Dream (II)" (theme)
cf. "The Drunkard's Lone Child" (theme)
Father's Come Home ("Yes, Mary, my Mary, your father's come home") (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 41)
NOTES [187 words]: Work's title for this piece was "Come Home, Father." Said title seems to be dead in tradition.
According to Waites and Hunter, this was first performed in 1858 as part of "Ten Nights In A Bar Room," which they call a "temperance melodrama." The first sheet music, however, seems to bave been published by Root & Cady in 1864. Interestingly, the version by S. Brainerd's Sons in Work-SongsOf-Henry-Clay-Work does not give an exact date; it's dated "A. D. 186 " -- with a blank space after the 6 to fill in the exact year. (To be sure, the copyright is said on the sheet to be held by Root & Cady, not Brainard's Sons).
According to Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 56-57, the Women's Christian Temperance Union would eventually adopt this song as its anthem. Finson on p. 59 quotes one George Birdseye as writing in 1879 that this became the forerunner of many temperance song, some of them blatant imitations. - RBW
In the words of W. C. Fields, "Father, dear father, come home with me now...and bring a jug with you." - PJS
Last updated in version 6.0
File: R308

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.