Shaking of the Sheets (Doleful Dance of Death)

Notes:
[words trad., music Bob Johnson / trad., Jon Boden]

Steeleye Span recorded Shaking of the Sheets, coupled with the Adderbury Morris tune The Black Joke in 1989 for their album Tempted and Tried. The album’s sleeve notes commented laconically:

“Six feet of earth makes us all of one size.”

Used before at Samhain for postlude

Lyrics:
Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets
Dance, dance when you hear the piper
Playing, everyone must dance
The shaking of the sheets with me.

Bring away the beggar, bring away the king
And every man in his degree
Bring away the oldest and the youngest thing
Come to death and follow me.

Bring away the merchant who made his money in France
And the crafty banker too
When you hear the piper, you and I must dance
The dance that everyone must do.

Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets
Dance, dance when you hear the piper
Playing, everyone must dance
The shaking of the sheets with me.

I’ll find you in the courtrooms, I’ll find you in the schools
When you hear the piper play
I’ll take away the wise men, I’ll take away the fools
And bring their bodies all to clay.

All the politicians of high and low degree
Lords and ladies, great and small
Don’t think that you’ll escape and need not dance with me
I’ll make you come when I do call.

Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets
Dance, dance when you hear the piper
Playing, everyone must dance
The shaking of the sheets with me.

It may be in the day, it may be in the night
Prepare yourselves to dance and pray
That when the piper plays ‘The Shaking of the Sheets’
You may to Heaven dance the way.

Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets
Dance, dance when you hear the piper
Playing, everyone must dance
The shaking of the sheets with me.

Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets
Dance, dance when you hear the piper
Playing, everyone must dance
The shaking of the sheets with me.

Listen: