This ballad begins: SATAN. / WHat Haste! Young Man, why up so soon I' th' Morn? / YOUNG MAN. / My Work is great, and, to do it I'm Sworn. / SATAN. / It is too soon, ly down, and take thy Rest. / YOUNG MAN. / My Work is weighty, and I must not Jest.' The broadside was published in 1716 by John Reid of Pearson's Close in Edinburgh.
The biblical tale of Christ being tempted in the wilderness by Satan was probably the inspiration for this ballad. The ballad appears to be a very serious attempt to convey the correct way of living to its readership. Satan's recurring argument is that the Young Man has many years in which to live a sinful, reckless life and still repent; the Young Man's consistent response is that he must be constantly striving to lead a good life, and that earthly temptations lose their appeal when compared with Christian salvation. He warns, though, that not all men are as aware of this as he: 'Wisdom's but rare, those that be wise are few'.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Date of publication:
1716 shelfmark: RB.I.106(108)
View larger image