The Hearse Song

by M-Gillies

Horse-drawn hearses were used until 1907 when the first electric hearse was used in Paris, France. Motorized hearses appeared two years later.

Nursery rhymes, for years have been used as an integral form of soothing and pacifying children into the dark, slumberous passage of sleep or arousing the playful mischievous wonderment of fun. These catching melodies were, on the surface, weaved to both educate and instruct moral lessons, but if you scratch the surface of these lullabies there lies a much more complex adult history.

From the historical Great Fire of London of London’s Burning, to the devastation of the plague in the eerie Ring a Ring o’Roses, many can trace their roots in the folkloric tales of mystery, with dark and subliminal messages linking to macabre histories of the past. And while the meaning may sometimes fall to the wayside, one such song of childhood play has generally popped up time and time again.

A favorite folk song among American children, The Hearse Song or otherwise known as The Worms Crawl In, traces its origins as far back as the nineteenth century, when it was documented among British soldiers serving in the Crimean War of 1853-1856.

While there have been numerous versions of the song throughout the years, a collected version goes a little like this:

The worms crawl in
And the worms crawl out

The ones that go in
Are lean and thin
The ones that come out
Are fat and stout

Your eyes fall in
And your teeth fall out
Your brains come tumbling
Down your snout

Be merry, my friends
Be merry

The worms crawl in
And the worms crawl out
Into your stomach
And out of your mouth

They eat your intestines
They scramble your heart
Now you feel like
You’re falling apart

This is how
It is to die
You end up looking
Like apple pie

Don’t ever laugh
When a hearse goes by
Or you may be
The next to die

They take you away
In a big black hack
They take you away
But won’t bring you back

They take you out
To the family plot
And there you wither
Decay and rot

They wrap you up
In a bloody sheet
And bury you under
About six feet deep

The men with shovels
All stand around
They shovel you into
That cold, wet ground

They shovel in dirt
And they throw in rocks
The don’t give a damn
If they break the box

All goes well
For a couple of weeks
But then your coffin
Begins to leak

And your eyes drop out
And your teeth fall in
And the worms crawl over
Your mouth and chin

The worms crawl in
And the worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle
On your snout

Your stomach turns
A slimy green
And puss comes out
Like whipped cream

You lap it up
With a piece of bread
And that’s what you eat
When you are dead

The worms crawl in
The worms crawl out

The ones that go in
Are lean and thin
The ones that go out
Are fat and stout

Your eyes fall in
And your teeth fall out
Your brains come tumbling
Down your stout

They eat your eyes
And they eat your nose
The eat the jelly
Between your toes

Be merry, my friends
Be merry

Read more:

The Folklore of Death

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