124 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
The life of man is but a span,
And cut down in its flower; We're here to day, and gone to-morrow,
We're all dead in an hour.
0 ! teach well your children, men !
The while that you are here, It will be better for your souls,
When your corpse lies on the bier.
To-day, you may be alive, dear man!
With many a thousand pound ; To-morrow, you may be a dead man,
And your corpse laid under ground.
With a turf at your head, dear man !
And another at your feet, Your good deeds and your bad ones
They will together meet.
My song is done, and I must begone,
I can stay no longer here; God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a happy new year."
Our Lancashire readers know that a similar wish to that expressed in the two last lines is generally delivered, in recitative, at the close of each carol,—or before the singers abandon our doors; which wish, however, we have heard finally changed into a less quotable ejaculation, in-cases where the carolists had been allowed to sing unregarded.
The gradual decay into which these ancient religious ballads are rapidly falling, was, in some measure, repaired by Mr. Davies Gilbert, in 1823—who published a collection, containing upwards of twenty carols, in a restored state,—with the tunes to which it was usual to sing them, in the west of England. Of Welsh carols various collections are mentioned, both by Hone and by Sandys :—and in that country, the practice is in better preservation than even in England. In Ireland too, it exists to the present day,—although we have not met with any collection of Irish carols ; and in France,—where there are numerous collections under the title of Noels,—the custom is universal. In Scotland, however, it was extinguished, with the other Christmas