Night-Visiting Song, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Night-Visiting Song, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 841401.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 179.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Joan Rabinowitz.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 07/04/1982.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): day class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Now, there’s another belief that, we’ll say, two people have a date tonight, or tomorrow night, or something. They say, ‘We’ll meet at eight o’clock.’ And meantime, one of them dies, or is accidentally killed or something. They have to keep that date unless they say, ‘God willing’ or ‘if I’m alive.’ They reckon if you say that, you don’t have to keep that particular date. Now, whatever happens you, that party will let you back for one night only, from midnight (which the old people reckoned was the hour of the dead) until the rooster or the cock crows in the morning. And it has to be a ‘March rooster’ – that means, the eggs have to be laid in March, and they have to be hatched in March. I mean, if you get eggs that was laid in February and hatched in March, the cock (or the rooster) is no good to you. So you got to have the eggs laid- And the rooster, the cock crows the first at five, the second at six, and the third at seven. And that’s been proved! Lately, since all the good watches came around, they never miss a beat: the first crow is a five.

This man was drowned off a horse into the raging tempest. And his girlfriend was expecting him home to her place, to be with her. And he didn’t come; she went in to bed. And about the middle of the night she heard the voice outside the door. And she lifted her head up, and she said, ‘Who is there?’ and he said, ‘It’s me.’ Then she thought he was coming at last. And she had no idea was he dead until he said he had to go when the cock crow. And although he was wet, she had no idea he was dead. He spent a night with her.

The night is past, love, I can no longer tarry
The tempest rages, I must obey
I must away, love, without a slumber
Into the arms of the deep.

When he came to his true-love’s dwelling
He knelt down upon a stone;
He whispered softly through her window,
‘Does my true-love lie alone?’

She lifted her head from her lily-white pillow
She lifted the sheets from off her breast;
She whispered softly through her window,
‘Who is disturbing my night’s rest?’

‘It’s I, it’s I, your own true lover,
Open the door, and let me in

For I am tired, love, likewise and weary
I am wet, love, unto the skin.’

She got up with the greatest of pleasure
She opened the door and let him in;
They lay all night in each other’s arms
‘Til the long night was past and gone.

When the long night was past and over
When the cocks began to crow
He hugged and kissed her, and then he left her
He mounted his horse, and away did go.

The night is past, love, I can no longer tarry
The tempest rages, I must obey
I must away, love, without a slumber
Into the arms of the deep.


Joe tells the audience that ‘this is a song that you sing the last verse first, or the first verse last, whatever way you like to look at it. You sing the same verse twice’.