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By the Waters of Babylon

This is a setting of Psalm 137.    It is slightly adapted from a more complex, 4-line hymn attributed to English organist Philip Hayes (1738–1797), and has been recorded by some more recent artists including Don McLean and Sr Janet Mead.

It was first published page 105 in "The Muses Delight: Catches, Glees, Canzonets and Canons" (1786) edited by Hayes (ref).

It can be treated as either a three-voice round, using only the first verse, or a three-verse song.


As a round

As a song



By the waters, the waters of Babylon,
We sat down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion.
We remember, we remember, we remember, thee Zion.

On the willows, the willows of Babylon,
We hung up our harps our harps, for thee Zion.
How can we sing, how can we sing, how can we sing of Zion,

There our captors, our captors from Babylon,
Tried to make us sing, and sing, of thee Zion.
We could not sing, we could not sing, we could not sing of Zion.

ABC Notation

O:Psalm 137:6
Z:abc-transcription ,
"1"[| B2 AG F2 G2 | A2 GF E2 F2  | G2 FE D2 E2  | F2 F2 B,4 |]
"2"[| d2 d2 d2 d2 | (d2c2) z2 c2 | (c2B2) z2 B2 | B2 ^A2 B4 |]
"3"[| F3 G  A2 B2 | E3 F G2 A2   | D3 E F2 G2   | F2 F2 B,4 |]

Ref:  What is ABC


  1. The link for "As a song" lead sheet led me to a porn site, & I tried opening it twice. Both times it led me to the site, which I didn't enter. The other links for this song work, though.

  2. Michelle - my sincere apologies for this.

    I use as a placeholder when preparing these pages, and in this case I missed putting the correct link into the text-part of the "as a song" link.

    The link in this page is now fixed, and I've changed the placeholder in the post template to something safer too.