Lyke-Wake Dirge

THIS ae nighte, this ae nighte,

—Every nighte and alle,

Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,

—And Christe receive thy saule.

When thou from hence away art past

To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,

Sit thee down and put them on;

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane

The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane.

From Whinny-muir when thou may’st pass,

To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last;

From Brig o’ Dread when thou may’st pass,

To Purgatory fire thou com’st at last;

If ever thou gavest meat or drink,

The fire sall never make thee shrink;

If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,

The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,

—Every nighte and alle,

Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,

—And Christe receive thy saule.

In case you wondered what is the song that Benedict Cumberbatch sings in one of the upcoming episodes of Neverwhere.

It is a traditional English song about a soul’s journey from this realm to purgatory. It was first collected in 1686, but considering it’s strong christian and heathen symbolism it must have been sung a long before that.

Analysis and full text