“Rise Up Quickly and Let Me In (The Ghostly Lover)”


The singer arrives at his love's window and begs to come in. She asks who is there. He identifies himself, and she allows him to enter. When he leaves, he rejoices, "For late last night I've been with my lass." In other versions, his ghost bids farewell.


This is a difficult conundrum, in that there are versions of this song with very similar words but plots with very different directions: One is a nightvisiting song, the other a ghost returning to his love after long absence.

In earlier versions of the Index, I split these two ballads, as "Rise Up Quickly" and "The Ghostly Lover" -- after all, the ghost is a pretty significant change; this was in contradiction to Roud, who lumped them.

Making things trickier still, one important text (Kennedy's) is "I Will Put My Ship In Order" without the first and last verses. It's not just the same plot; it's the same *words*. The two assuredly have a common origin, though in fact the songs have different endings. But fragments could file with other songs.

It is amazing that Kennedy, who is an impossible lumper and included at least one completely unrelated text from Sam Henry in his notes, failed to observe the connection to "I Will Put My Ship In Order." Kennedy's text is incredibly composite in its choruses, taking items from "I'm a Rover and Seldom Sober" and "Love is Teasing." But the Ord text implies that these are not an original part of the song. Many of the other versions have also picked up extraneous material.

The title I have assigned here is not based on any traditional version; I pulled it out of Kennedy's text because the extant titles were so unhelpful and inorganic to the texts.

Adding it all up, I wonder if this could possibly be a mix of "I Will Put My Ship In Order" and some lost Ghostly Lover song. Or is the "Ghostly Lover" version a mix of the nightvisiting version of this song with "The Grey Cock" or something of that type? In any case, it's a mess which admits of no easy solution. - RBW

Greenleaf/Mansfield names its text "The Ghostly Lover" though the ghost does not appear. "Although the words do not seem to bear out the title, the White girls insist this is a song about a lover who was drowned, but rose from his watery grave to see his sweetheart once again." Another ghostly example is John Reilly's "Adieu Unto All True Lovers" on "The Voice of the People, Vol 10: Who's That at my Bed Window?," Topic TSCD 660 (1998): here the text is clearly what we are calling "Rise Up Quickly and Let Me In" with the "where is the blushes" verse from "Willy O!" added to provide the ghost. The discussion of the Costello version in the notes to "The Grey Cock, or, Saw You My Father [Child 248]" give a similar example in which verses of both "Willy O!" and "Rise Up Quickly and Let Me In" are inserted unchanged into another ballad.

"Rise Up Quickly and Let Me In" has distinguishing lines that stand out when verses are imported into another ballad. For example,

... "Who's that at my bed window,

Disturbing me from from my long night's rest?"

"I am your lover; sure pray discover...."

"...I'm wet, love, unto the skin." [as opposed to "I've got wet through all my clothes" in "Love Let Me In (Forty Long Miles; It Rains, It Hails)"].

"I'll be guided without a stumble....

It may begin with a treacherous journey that might have led the traveller to stumble:

"Over hills and lofty mountains,

Oh dear! oh dear! I'm forced to go...."

"Let the night be dark as the very dungeon [or dunghill]..." - BS

Cross references


  • John Reilly, "Adieu Unto All True Lovers" (on Voice10)
  • Belle Stewart, "Here's a Health to all True Lovers" (on Voice06)


  1. Greenleaf/Mansfield 34, "The Ghostly Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ord, p. 89, "Hearken, Ladies, and I Will Tell You, Or The Constant Lovers" (1 text)
  3. Kennedy 159, "A Health to All True-Lovers" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Creighton-Maritime, p. 63, "Here's a Health To All True Lovers" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #3135
  6. BI, Ord089


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Ord)
Keywords: nightvisit courting
Found in: Britain(Scotland) Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf)