‘A Soalin’

Hey ho, nobody home,
Meat nor drink nor money have I none.
Yet shall we be merry,
Hey ho, nobody home; Hey ho, nobody home.
— Stookey/Batteaste/Mezzetti

Peter, Paul and Mary made this traditional English folk tune a holiday favorite in the mid-sixties. My personal trophy was learning the guitar part as a high school student and singing this song in my own version of the folk super group, except we were “Jim, John and Gail.” (No wonder we were never famous.)

The song is about the London tradition of poor children caroling in front of people’s homes expecting to be given treats or money in return for their winter serenade. This part of the song is anticipating that in the worst case (nobody home) they will choose to make merry anyway.

Most of our giving at Christmas involves an even exchange of gifts—something appropriate to the friendship or the family connection. We sometimes base our gifts on what we received the year before. But the Bible talks about giving as well to those who can’t give anything back. This is the way God gave that first Christmas. He owes us nothing, yet He has given us everything in His only Son, and He asks for nothing other than for us to believe it and receive it.

It’s such a joy to know that in a week, we will be teaming up with many of you to do this very thing for the women of Isaiah House. Your response has been overwhelming, not only in numbers, but in Spirit. Your cards, notes and messages are heartwarming and genuine. They are a reflection of your love and Marti and I are so honored to be representing you in giving. Perhaps this is just a small taste of what God feels all the time.

The streets are very dirty; my shoes are very thin.
I have a little pocket to put a penny in.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’ penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha’ penny then God bless you.

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4 Responses to ‘A Soalin’

  1. Betty says:

    You have given us great reminders about the true meaning of Christmas–not only to remember the birth of the Savior, but to remember that what we do for the “least of these,” so we have done it unto him. May that spirit of remembering those in need continue throughout the year.

  2. Tim says:

    I found a 1997 version of Peter, Paul and Mary singing this song.


  3. Great thoughts about giving, friend. And re-watching PP&M sing “A Soalin'” on YuoTube reminds me of what consumate musicians they were: even before their fluid singing of the song Noel and Peter’s guiar work is breathlessly stunning.

    Here’s da link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO4u-N_VGJY

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