Cockles and Mussels, Alive, Alive O!


Cockles and Mussels  (or Molly Malone)

In Dublin’s Fair City
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheel’d her wheel barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels
 alive, alive o!

Alive, alive o!, alive, alive o!
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

I cannot recall when I first heard this song nor where, but I was a child.   This is usually thought to be an Irish ballad published in the late 1800s, but probably written well before that.  In looking the song words up on the internet, I found various authors, dates, and stories behind this story.  But that really doesn’t matter a whole lot, because this sad ballad was etched upon my mind many a year ago.  Molly dies young from some kind of a fever so the story embedded in me a sad tale.  No one should die, let alone die young, or so I thought as a young girl.  But Molly did.  It is the “Cockles and Mussels, alive, alive o!” that hums in my head.  She was a “fishmonger”…selling the shells with the small amount of meat like clams or oysters.

I don’t know if one of my parents hummed this tune as my Dad was from a Scottish family, Mom had an Irish Mom.  Or it could have been a song sung on some folk music radio station.  I really don’t know, but I do know that it was etched in my memory.

Songs affect us as babies. We hear Mama singing a lullaby to us and don’t understand the words, but we know the voice and feel the heart that calms us to sleep.  We hear a silly song that makes us, as a three year old, laugh and tumble with joy.  We hear a swooning love song and wish that just one boy in the freshman class of high school would look our way.  We dance to the beat of some song that means so much to us because we heard it at some special moment in our lives.  Music carries meaning for us… many reasons, many ways.  I think rhythm and words bring alignment with something inside of us.  We may never know just what or why, but it just does.

My mind may hear and learn words, but my heart absorbs words and often feels them clear to my heart, deep into my soul.  BUT… the LORD calls me to Him by His Word, by His words… that I would know His love for me through joy, through trials, through sorrow, through pain.  He never leaves me nor fails me.   Psalm 116 says just that:

 I love the LORD, because He hears My voice [and] my supplications.

Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call [upon Him] as long as I live.

The cords of death encompassed me And the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.

Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.

The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living.

Psalm 116:1-9

And sweet are the words from my LORD as He sings over me:

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty One Who will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness;

He will quiet you by His love;

He will rejoice over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

As I listen to music, LORD, hold my heart close to You that I will hear You above all else and know that any sorrow, any pain, any trouble, will be caressed by You as we walk through each together.  You are my Refuge and my Strength.  I am forever grateful.  I love You dearly, my sweet, melodious LORD.  Amen.


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