The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Mary Had A Baby

St. Helena Island Spiritual
Collected by N. G. J. Ballanta-Taylor
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

1. Mary had a baby, oh, Lord,
Mary had a baby, oh my Lord,
Mary had a baby, oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

2. What did she name him? oh, Lord,
What did she name him? oh my Lord,
What did she name him? oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

3. She named [1] him Jesus, oh, Lord,
She named him Jesus, oh my Lord,
She named him Jesus, oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

5. Named him King Jesus (My Lord)
Named him King Jesus (Oh My Lord)
Named him King Jesus (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

6. Now where was he born? oh, Lord,
Where was he born? oh my Lord,
Where was he born? oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

7. Born in a stable, oh, Lord,
Born in a stable, oh my Lord,
Born in a stable, oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

8. And where did she [2] lay him? oh, Lord,
Where did she lay him? oh my Lord,
Where did she lay him? oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

9. She laid him in a manger, oh, Lord, [3]
Laid him in a manger, oh my Lord,
Laid him in a manger, oh Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

10. Who heard the singing? (My Lord)
Who heard the singing? (Oh My Lord)
Who heard the singing? (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

11. Shepherds heard the singing (My Lord)
Shepherds heard the singing (Oh My Lord)
Shepherds heard the singing (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

12. Who came to see him, oh, Lord?
Who came to see him, oh, my Lord?
Who came to see him, oh Lord?
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

13. Shepherds came to see him, oh, Lord,
Shepherds came to see him, oh, my Lord;
Shepherds came to see him, oh, Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

14. Star keeps shining (My Lord)
Star keeps shining (Oh My Lord)
Star keeps shining (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

15. The wise men kneeled before him, oh, Lord,
The wise men kneeled before him, oh, my Lord,
The wise men kneeled before him, oh, Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

`6. King Herod tried to find him, oh, Lord,
King Herod tried to find him, oh, my Lord,
King Herod tried to find him, oh, Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

17. Moving in the elements (My Lord)
Moving in the elements (Oh My Lord)
Moving in the elements (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

18. They went away to Egypt, oh, Lord,
They went away to Egypt, oh, my Lord,
They went away to Egypt, oh, Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

19. Traveled on a donkey (My Lord)
Traveled on a donkey (Oh My Lord)
Traveled on a donkey (My Lord)
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

20. Angels watching over him, [4] oh, Lord,
Angels watching over him, oh, my Lord,
Angels watching over him, oh, Lord,
People keep a-comin' an' the train done gone.

Notes

1. Or, called Return

2. Or, they Return

3. Or, Laid him in a manger, Oh, Lord, Return

4. Or: Angels went around him... Return

Album notes from Bruce Cockburn's Christmas (1993): "This call-and-response song appears to have originated on the South Carolina coastal island of Saint Helena in the last century. The verses follow a fairly predictable pattern till you get to 'moving in the elements...'"

Elizabeth Poston in The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970) quotes N. G. J. Ballanta-Taylor for the first verse and tune, and has additional verses "as sung variously extempore."

Ron Clancy, author of the Christmas Classics series of Christmas carol books, has now created a number of "The Story Behind The Music" YouTube videos recounting the histories of numerous Christmas carols, including this carol and Go Tell It On The Mountain.

The Stories Behind The Music Of
Two Spirituals

For links to all of Clancy's carol videos, go to
Christmas Classics Videos

I do not have any financial or other relationship with Ron Clancy, The Christmas Classics, or YouTube.