Green grow the rushes O


I'll sing you one-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your one-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you two-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your two-o
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you three-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your three-o
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you four-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your four-o
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you five-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your five-o
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you six-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your six-o
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you seven-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your seven-o
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you eight-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your eight-o
Eight for the April rainers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you nine-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your nine-o
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Eight for the April rainers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you ten-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your ten-o
Ten for the ten commandments
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Eight for the April rainers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you eleven-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your eleven-o
Eleven for the eleven that went to heaven
Ten for the ten commandments
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Eight for the April rainers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

I'll sing you twelve-o
Green grow the rushes-o
What is your twelve-o
Twelve for the twelve apostles
Eleven for the eleven that went to heaven
Ten for the ten commandments
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Eight for the April rainers
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Six for the six proud walkers
Five for the symbols at your door
Four for the gospel makers
Three three the rivals
Two two the lily-white boys clothed all in green-o
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

Note from Veronica Biggs:

I've done some research on this, on a strictly curious level, and have found out the following:

The lily-white boys are the holly and the ivy
The three rivals are three mountains in Wales that are close together and look a lot alike
The symbols at your door are pentagrams placed there to ward off evil
The proud walkers are members of Saxon war bands who marched around the camps on the eve of battle banging shields with spears while on stilts
The seven stars refers to the Pliaedes constellation
The nine bright shiners refers to the phases of the moon
The eleven who went to heaven are all the apostles minus Judas Iscariot

The April rainers remain a mystery to me, and the others are obvious Biblical references.
However, I have no idea of the significance of any of this, except that it appears to be an attempt to preserve some pagan symbolism in the face of overwhelming Christianity.

If you have found out anything, please let me know. This song has been a hobby of mine for many years; off and on, and my searches for its meaning have led me down many an interesting garden path!

Veronica Biggs
verobiggs@hotmail.com

I found the notes from Veronica Biggs on the internet and have kept them as she posted them. However her e-mail address is no longer valid.

Note from Alan Sim,
I have also heard the following lines:
Three three the trinity.
God is One and all alone and evermore shall be so.
But the ones given above seem to be more common.

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