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(This has a different structure to most versions; up to the eight verse has the normal form:)


Eight it is the Morning break, When all the world's awake, O
Seven, the seven stars  in the sky,
Six the Gospel Preacher,
Five, the Ferryman in the boat,
Four the four Evangalists,
Three of them were strangers,
Two of them were lily-white babes, cothed all in green, O
One of them was all alone, Ever will remain so.


Verse 9 (very much slower)

Nine, it is the Dilly Bird, That's never seen but heard 0,
(No continuation)

Ten, the ten Commandments, And ten begins a-gain O (Fine.)


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Source: Ralph Dunstan, A First Book of Christmas Carols

Ralph Dunstan wrote:

The mythical Dilly Bird is supposed to come only at Christmas and was 'never seen but heard-o'. Variants of the Dilly Carol are sung in most of the countries of Europe.  The following is exactly as I have many times heard it - generally sung by three singers at or about the time of Twelfth Night - in West Cornwall ... As in most of the Mediaeval Miracle Plays and Mysteries, and many of the old Carols, Christian Doctrines are mingled with fragments of Heathen Mythology etc.

The origin of 'dilly' is uncertain, but is presumably Cornish and related to the Welsh dilys which nowadays means "genuine, authentic."

Roud: 133 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  The Dilly Song (thematic)

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