Sprig of Thyme - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Sprig of Thyme is a very old traditional song that was known to exist in the seventeenth century and which may well be much older.  Actually, there are many traditional British folk songs with the word 'thyme' in the title.  'Sprig of Thyme' is one of them; 'Bunch of Thyme' is another, and 'Let No Man Steal Your Thyme' (as recorded by Pentangle) is a third.  All of these songs share two things: the double meaning of 'thyme' and 'time' (which seem to be nearly synonymous), and the motif of thyme representing a woman's virginity.  But the different thyme songs  are, in my opinion anyway, really first cousins rather than being variants of the same song.  The thyme song on this page, 'Sprig of Thyme', is perhaps the most sprightly of them; whilst 'Let No Man Steal Your Thyme' has the darkest hue, and 'Bunch of Thyme' is arguably the most affecting.  See this site for a breakdown of the various different thyme-themed songs from the British Isles.

Chords

Capo at 4th Fret

C                     F            C
Once I had a sprig of thyme -

     Am         C                     G
It grew by night and by day,


          Am               C                    F             Dm7  
'Til a false young man came a-courting to me,

             
G                  G2         C
And he stole all me thyme away.

Lyrics

Once I had a sprig of thyme - 
It grew by night and by day,
'Til a false young man came a-courting to me,
And he stole all me thyme away.

Thyme, it is a precious thing,
And thyme it will grow on,
And thyme it will bring all things to an end,
And so does my thyme grow on.

Once I had a sprig of thyme - 
It grew by night and by day,
'Til a false young man came a-courting to me,
And he stole all me thyme away.

The gardener was standing by,
I bid him choose for me,
He chose me the lily, aye the violet and the pink,
Ah but surely I refused them all three.

Once I had a sprig of thyme - 
It grew by night and by day,
'Til a false young man came a-courting to me,
And he stole all me thyme away.

And it's very well a-drinking ale,
And it's nice just to have a drop of wine,
Ah but I like sitting by the young man's side
That's gained this heart of mine.

Once I had a sprig of thyme - 
It grew by night and by day,
'Til a false young man came a-courting to me,
And he stole all me thyme away.

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs