“John Barleycorn” is an English folksong. The character “John Barleycorn” in the song isa personification of the important cereal crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages madefrom it, beer and whisky. Barleycorn, the personification of the barley, encounters greatsuffering before succumbing to an unpleasant death. However, as a result of this deathbread can be produced; therefore, Barleycorn dies so that others may live. Finally hisbody will be eaten as the bread. Compare this with the Christian concepts of theSacrament and of Transubstantiation and it is not difficult to imagine how the song mighthave been beneficial to Christianity.There were three men come from the WestTheir fortunes for to try,And these three made a solemn vow:“John Barleycorn must die.”They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,Threw clods upon his head,‘Til these three men were satisfiedJohn Barleycorn was dead.They let him lie for a very long time,‘Til the rains from heaven did fall,When little Sir John raised up his headAnd so amazed them all.They let him stand ’til Mid-Summer’s DayWhen he looked both pale and wan;Then little Sir John grew a long, long beardAnd so became a man.They hired men with their scythes so sharpTo cut him off at the knee;They rolled him and tied him around the waist,And served him barbarously.They hired men with their sharp pitchforksTo pierce him to the heart,But the loader did serve him worse than that,For he bound him to the cart.They wheeled him ’round and around the field‘Til they came unto a barn,And there they took a solemn oathOn poor John Barleycorn.
They hired men with their crab-tree sticks
To split him skin from bone,But the miller did serve him worse than that,For he ground him between two stones.There’s little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl,And there’s brandy in the glass,And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowlProved the strongest man at last.The huntsman cannot hunt the foxNor loudly blow his hornAnd the tinker cannot mend his potsWithout John Barleycorn