Union Songs

The Crow on the Cradle

A song by Sydney Carter©Stainer & Bell, Ltd.

The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn
Now is the time for a child to be born
He'll cry for the moon and laugh at the sun
If he's a boy, he'll carry a gun
Sang the crow on the cradle

If it should happen that our baby's a girl
Never you mind if her hair doesn't curl
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
And a bomber above her wherever she goes
Sang the crow on the cradle

Rockabye baby the dark and the light
Somebody's baby is born for a fight
Rockaby baby, the white and the black
Somebody's baby is not coming back
Sang the crow on the cradle

Your mammy and pappy, they'll scrape and they'll save
Build you a coffin and dig you a grave
Hushaby little one, why do you weep
We've got a toy that will put you to sleep
Sang the crow on the cradle

Bring me a gun and I'll shoot that bird dead
That's what your mammy and pappy once said
Crow on the cradle, oh what should I do
That is a thing that I leave to you
Sang the crow on the cradle


I first heard this song on a Pete Seeger record in the early 1960s. Its juxtaposition of nursery lullaby and the fear of nuclear war make it a powerful statement against war

As well as "Crow on the Cradle" Sydney Carter wrote: "Lord of the Dance," "One More Step," "When I Needed a Neighbor," "Silver in the Stubble," "Man With a Microphone," and "Down Below". Find out more info about him at www.stainer.co.uk/carter

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