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Come my beloved ones, come and follow me home
Come when it’s time, your days here are done,
I am the shepherd, I gather my own,
Leave all you know and come follow.

Follow me down the wide world,
Follow me home, my children.

Come, oh my forest ones, come and follow me home
Chipmunk and owl, raccoon and jay,
Come from the cool shadows, hid from the day,
Leave your deep forest and follow.

Come, oh my meadow ones, come and follow me home,
Woodchuck and mole, kestrel and quail,
Come from your burrows and grass-winding trails,
Leave your bright meadow and follow.

Come, oh my river ones, come and follow me home,
Muskrat and loon, otter and crane,
Come from the high banks, the reeds in the rain,
Leave your brown river and follow.

Come, oh my mountain ones, come and follow me home,
Bighorn and bear, cougar and hawk,
Come from the timberline, windy grey rock,
Leave your wild mountain and follow.

Come, oh my ocean ones, come and follow me home,
Petrel and seal, curlew and whale,
Come from the combers in calm and in gale,
Leave your grey ocean and follow.

Come, oh my friends of man, come and follow me home,
Lovebird and cat, ploughhorse and hound,
Come from the fireside, from farmstead and town,
Leave your warm household and follow.

Come when you know the call, come and follow me home,
Come from the hill, the valley, the sea,
Hunters and hunted ones, gather to me,
Leave all you know and come follow.

I didn't know why I wrote this till well after it was done. It was for my wonderful cat Rainbow, the rainbow of my heart, who had just received a diagnosis of terminal cancer and who had a month or two to live, they said. (She lived for three and a half years, frail but game, and died of something else.)

It is a song for all creatures of the world at the moment of their leaving it. There wasn't room for that many millions of creatures, though, so this version is for a guardian spirit in my region of New England, where all the creatures in it live (except for the bighorn sheep, which I couldn't resist). If your region has a bird or a beast I've left out, or you need a verse for a prairie or a desert, feel free to add one.

About those endings. I'm doing my best to make it more confusing. I sing it with the chorus after the first verse, then other verses in pairs with the chorus after “meadow,” “mountain” and “household,” and again after the last verse. So the first verse should go to Ending 2, and the second (forest) verse to Ending 1. Maybe it would be necessary to put in the third (“meadow,”) verse so you can see it goes to Ending 2. And of course folks can mix and match as they like. (A friend who sings the song puts in the chorus after every verse because it's fun to sing it.) You can sing the chorus after every verse, every other verse, or anywhere you want it.

Barbara: I wrote out the music as if the first and second verses went together, but Valentine doesn't sing them that way. She sings the first verse, chorus and then two verses, then the chorus after that. The music just shows you what to do if you want to loop the verses. She also invites you to sing the verse and the chorus in whatever pattern works for you.

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The storm when it came shook me clear to my keel
I lost all direction and time
I had no horizon, ran battered and blind
And the whole of the world was the great wave behind
And the wave rushing on me to climb

And oh, the ocean is wide:
Come wind and come weather, there’s nowhere to hide
And the ocean is wide

I carried my friends as a boat does her own
The three of us under the gale
I held on with the strength of rope and of wood
And human and little, they fought as they could
With the tiller and shortened sail

And oh, the ocean is wide:
You pray for your own ones to weather the ride,
But the ocean is wide.

By crest and by hollow, by dark and by day
By buffet, by blow we were hurled
For three days we drove on under staysail alone
Till the storm left us still and alone in the dawn
And bright calm to the edge of the world

And oh, the ocean is wide:
Come calm or come storm, you’re alone in the tide
But the ocean is wide.

The little fish came down the bright, breathing sea
From world’s edge to world’s edge they ran
They divided behind me and joined at my bow
And I on a silver thread, rudder to prow
And all the world’s ocean its span

And oh, the ocean is wide:
The web of the world's in the sea by your side
And the ocean is wide.

With the little ghost wind the blue follow-fish came
Big and lovely, they danced in the foam
Ah, we traveled companions all down the day
Then as the breeze quickened, they were off on their way
And I heeled in the good breeze for home

And oh, the ocean is wide:
May they rise well, swim easy wherever they bide
For the ocean is wide.

Oh, the great sky is open and a good breeze abeam
The three of us working the wind,
And I know that I'll never know all's in the sea
Only one time that something there beckoned to me
As it might be a friend to a friend.

And oh, the ocean is wide:
And the web of the world’s in the sea by your side
For the ocean is wide

The folknik song pages are lovingly produced by Kay Eskenazi, John Kelly, and Barbara Millikan. Barbara Millikan produced the song pages for this issue.

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