Soul Cake Song is a solemn All Soul's Day song; it is also called Cheshire Souling Song, among other names. Its music and lyrics have undergone different adaptations
through the centuries, but this is the earliest recorded version from the 19th century.
was a custom practiced in England and Ireland that originated from the Middle Ages. After the Celtic lands received the Catholic Faith, on November 2 (All Souls’ Day), instead of leaving wine and food to appease the bad spirits of their former pagan sect, the now-Catholic people baked little pastries called “soul cakes” that were blessed and eaten at gatherings and distributed to the poor.
Eventually, it became the custom for children to go through the town on All Souls' Day asking for soul cakes; in return they promised to pray for the deceased relatives of the soul cake givers.
The first version of this Cheshire Souling Song / Soul Cake Song is sung here by Washington Revels Young Singers; in it the old melody is sung plainly. Note that in this
version, verses three and two are inverted.
A second version called A’Soulin (arranged by the band Peter, Paul and Mary) is also provided below. This is the more popular version of the Soul Cake Song,
although the rhythmic meter, melody and lyrics vary slightly from the 19th century version. This pleasant version is from 1966, sung by the girls of St. Michael’s School, a now-defunct boarding school in Petworth, England.
First version: Listen to Soul Cake Song
Second version: Listen to A' Soul in'
A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missus, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the One (Him) who made us all.
1. God bless the master of this house,
The mistress also,
And all the little children
That round the table grow.
Like wise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store;
And all that dwell within your gates,
We wish you ten times more
2. Go down into the cellar,
And see what you can find,
If your barrels are not empty,
We hope you will prove kind.
(We hope you will prove kind,
With your apples and strong beer,
And we'll come no more a-souling
Until this time next year.
3. The lanes are very dirty,
My shoes are very thin,
I've got 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,
It's God bless you!