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)

Roud #1055
cf. "Greensleeves" (tune)
Bonnie Saint John (DT, BONSTJON)
Shepherd, O Shepherd
NOTES [112 words]: 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

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