The Strawbs:The Hangman And The Papist

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“Hangman And The Papist”
Artist: The Strawbs
Albums: From The Witchwood (1971)
Halcyon Days (1997)

The village square stands quiet
The curfew still enforced
The streets are even clear of dogs and whores
Like some evil bird of prey
The scaffold spreads its wings
The people build their fires and bolt their doors

The mayor is giving dinner to the officers and wives
His eldest son is learning how to fawn
The barrack block is hushed and tense
The soldiers drawing lots
Who will be the hangman in the dawn?

The lot falls on a young man
Who has served for but a year
His home is in the village close nearby
He shivers at the thought of what
He's forced to do next day
He wonders who it is that has to die

And the full moon casts a cold light
On the gloomy prison walls
The papist walks his cell
He cannot sleep
He hears the waiting gallows creaking
Just beyond the door
He prays for he has no more tears to weep

The day begins to break
The muffled drums begin to sound
A crowd begins to gather in the square
The presence of the hangman
In his terrifying mask
Weighs heavy on the minds of all those there
The colonel reads the sentence
Which the papist knows by heart
He has failed to show allegiance to the king
His crime is thus with God himself
And in his name he must hang
The papist, head held high
Says not a thing

The jailer binds his hands
And puts the blindfold to his eyes
He leads him through the door before the crowd
The hangman sees his victim
And the blood drains from his face
He sees his younger brother standing proud
The hangman tries to protest
But is ordered to proceed
His trembling hands begin to take the strain
His eyes are blind with streaming tears
He cries for all to hear

Forgive me God we hang him in thy name
Forgive me God we hang him in thy name
Forgive me God we hang him in thy name
Forgive me God we hang him in thy name