O Shepherd, O Shepherd

DESCRIPTION: Shepherd's wife offers a breakfast of bacon and beans if he will come home; he refuses, he must tend his sheep. She offers a dinner of pudding and beef, then a supper of bread and cheese. Finally she offers clean sheets and a pretty lass. He accepts.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1905 (Reeves-Circle)
KEYWORDS: marriage sex food dialog humorous wife shepherd
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber),England(South))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Reeves-Circle 97, "O Shepherd, O Shepherd" (1 text)
Williams-Thames, pp. 176-177, "Shepherd, Come Home to Thy Breakfast" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 45)
Purslow-Constant, p. 90, "Shepherd, Come Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
GreigDuncan7 1513, "The Shepherd's Wife" (1 text)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 74-75, "O Shepherd, O Shepherd" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, SHEPWILD SHEPWIFE (cf. the notes to BONSTJON)

Roud #1055
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Greensleeves" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
Bonnie Saint John (DT, BONSTJON)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Shepherd, O Shepherd
NOTES: This seems to exist in two forms, "O Shepherd O Shepherd" and "The Shepherd's Wife." The two have identical plots, but the latter -- at least as recorded by Gordeanna McCulloch, based on the version in Herd -- *feels* much bawdier, as well as more fun. (Anne Gilchrist thinks it may be derived from a singing game, and it does have rather that feel.)
The distinction is so strong that I thought of calling them separate songs, but I can't imagine a clear dividing line.
The tune of the "O Shepherd O Shepherd" versions is described as a "modal version of Greensleeves." This is a bit strong; the tune has been altered in more ways than the simple removal of accidentals. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: VWL074

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 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.