Mary Had a Baby

TITLE: Mary Had a Baby
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: Christmas, childbirth, Jesus, religious
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1953 (R. C. Seeger, American Folk Songs for Christmas)

nativity-sceneMary Had a Baby appears in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s “American Folk Songs for Children” (Doubleday 1948) and she cites as her source “Saint Helena Island Spirituals” by N.G.J. Ballanta (Schirmer 1925) and the Penn Normal Industrial and Agricultural School of St. Helena Island, South Carolina. 

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Mary Had a Baby, Aye Lord
  • Mary Had a Baby, Yes Lord
  • The People Keep A-Comin’ But the Train Done Gone

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: St. James Preschool

Mary Had A Baby

Mary had a baby, Oh Lord;
Mary had a baby, Oh my Lord
Mary had a baby, Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Where was He born? Oh Lord
Where was He born? Oh my Lord
Where was He born? Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Born in a stable,  Oh Lord
Born in a stable, Oh my Lord
Born in a stable, Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Where did they lay Him?  Oh Lord
Where did they lay Him? Oh my Lord
Where did they lay Him? Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Laid Him in a manger, Oh Lord
Laid Him in a manger, Oh my Lord
Laid Him in a manger, Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

What did she name him? Oh Lord
What did she name him? Oh my Lord
What did she name him? Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Named him King Jesus, Oh Lord
Named him King Jesus Oh my Lord
Named him King Jesus Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Who heard the singing? Oh Lord
Who heard the singing? Oh my Lord
Who heard the singing? Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Shepherds heard the singing, Oh Lord
Shepherds heard the singing Oh my Lord
Shepherds heard the singing Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Star keep-a shining, Oh Lord
Star keep-a shining Oh my Lord
Star keep-a shining Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Moving in the elements, Oh Lord
Moving in the elements Oh my Lord
Moving in the elements Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Jesus went to Egypt, Oh Lord
Jesus went to Egypt Oh my Lord
Jesus went to Egypt Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Travelled on a donkey, Oh Lord
Travelled on a donkey Oh my Lord
Travelled on a donkey Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

Angels went around Him, Oh Lord
Angels went around Him Oh my Lord
Angels went around Him Oh, Lord
The people keep a-coming and the train done gone.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Blues and Gospel Records 1902-1943, John Goodrich and Robert M.W. Dixon, Storyville Publications and Company, London Revised 1969.

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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