> Folk Music > Songs > Judas


[ Roud 3964 ; Child 23 ; Ballad Index C023 ; trad.]

Paul Davenport sang Judas in 2011 on his and Liz Davenport’s Hallamshire Traditions CD Spring Tide Rising. They commented in their liner notes:

This is reputedly the oldest recorded ballad and Child only offers a single text. here it is presented as a verse translation of that original text which is in Middle English and therefore dates from around the time of Chaucer. The story is interesting in that it makes a sympathetic figure of Judas whilst Peter is the apostle who is chastised. Needless to say they all blame a woman! We recently sang this in church at Bromyard where it was well received and we were not struck down from above. The tune, by Paul, is a version of The Bells of Paradise.


Paul Davenport sings Judas

At Passover Tide our Lord he arose,
And gentle the words that he spoke to Judas:
“To Jerusalem go and take there for to try
Thirty pieces of silver our supper to buy.”

Judas met with his sister, a wicked woman,
Who cruel words spoke so he wished her begone:
“If I had my will I should stone thee with stone,
All for that false prophet thou dotest upon.”

At peace, dearest sister, my heart she would break.
For my dear Lord, he would die for thy sake.”
“Then forgive me”, said she, “Come now sleep in my barn.”
Then this wicked woman took him by the arm.

But upon the next morning when he did awaken,
Thirty pieces of silver from him she had taken.
A-crying, a-screaming he went in the street,
And there that rich man, Pontius Pilate, did meet.

“What ails thee, what ails thee?” then Pilate he said.
“I betrayed my Lord’s trust and I wish myself dead.
Thirty pieces of silver he trusted to me
For to buy bread and wine our supper to be.”

Then up spoke Pilate, “Say I’ll give thee gold,
If that you will tell me where to find your Lord.”
“I want not your gold but if you give to me
Thirty pieces of silver I’ll tell it to thee.”

Then in came Lord Jesus and sat down to eat,
Unto his apostles these word he did speak:
“Come eat, dear apostles, take the bread that I break
For I am bought and sold all for this supper’s sake.”

The up spoke Peter, crying, “What hast thou done?
You have sold our Lord who is God’ only son!”
“Be still, Peter,” said Jesus, “For this I do know:
You shall sell me three times ere the cocks they do crow.”