THE FINDING OF MOSES
(Michael Moran - 'Zozimus')
On Egypt's banks, contagious to the Nile
The auld Pharaoh's daughter, she went to bathe in style
She took her dip and she came unto the land
And to dry her royal pelt she ran along the strand
A bulrush tripped her whereupon she saw
A smiling baby in a wad of straw
She took him up and says she in accents mild
"Oh tar-an-a-gers, now me girls, which one of yis owns the child?"
She took him up and she gave a little grin
For she and Moses were standing in their skin
"Bedad now" says she "it was someone very rude
Left a little baby by the river in his nude."
She took him to her auld lad sitting on the throne
"Da," says she, "will you give the boy a home?"
"Bedad now," says he, "sure I've often brought in worse.
Go my darling daughter and get the child a nurse."
An auld blackamore woman among the crew
Cried out, "You royal savage, what's that to do with you?
Your royal ladies is too meek and mild
To beget dishonestly this darling little child."
"Ah then," says the Pharaoh, "I'll search every nook
From the Phoenix Park down to Donnybrook
And when I catch a hoult of the bastard's father
I will kick him from the Nile down to the Dodder."
Well they sent a bellman to the market square
To see if he could find a slavey there
But the only one now that he could find
Was the little young one that left the child behind
She came up to the Pharaoh, a stranger, mareyah
Never lettin' on that she was the baby's ma
And so little Moses got his mammy back
Which shows that co-in-ci-dence is a nut to crack.
Written by "Zozimus" (Michael Moran) b. 1794 d. 1846
I found these lyrics when doing a search for its title. It turns out it is still sung today (2009)
I found it in a posting by Dublin singer, Frank McGrath, on the Mudcat Cafe website. He said he found
it in the book by another Dublin singer who, according to McGrath, sings the definitive version of the song. Mc Grath
also states this song is best suited to the Dublin style of phraseology and pronunciation.
The book was Songs of Dublin by Frank Harte in 1976.
The song is listed in the Index of Traditional Ballads :
Finding of Moses, The
DESCRIPTION: "In Agypt's land, contaygious to the Nile, Old Pharo's daughter ... saw a smiling babby in a wad of straw ...'Tare-an-ages, girls, which o' yees owns the child?'"
AUTHOR: probably Michael J. Moran (Zozimus)
EARLIEST DATE: 1871 (Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis)
KEYWORDS: Bible humorous baby
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (4 citations):
OLochlainn, p. 230, "The Finding of Moses" (1 fragment)
ADDITIONAL: Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis [Joseph Tully?], Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran) (Dublin,1976 (reprint of the 1871 edition)), pp. 20-22, "The Finding of Moses" or "Finding of Moses in the Nile"
H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 514, in a note to "Night Before Larry Was Stretched"
ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 26-27, "The Finding of Moses" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Little Moses" (plot)
Notes: OLochlainn: "...Zozimus, who was in life Michael Moran, born ... Dublin, about the year 1794 ... composed a notable ballad on The Finding of Moses in the Bulrushes, which begins On Egypt's plains where flows the ancient Nile, Where Ibix stalks and swims the Crockadile.... It underwent many changes ... and a number of versions are extant. A fragment of one [is presented here]."
Sparling's text, exactly as complete or incomplete as OLochlainn, is in not quite as broad a slang. Sparling also attributes it to "the celebrated blind 'Zozimus' who sang his own songs." A more complete version is Frank Harte's Songs of Dublin: Moses' mother is picked up, by coincidence, to be his nurse.
"Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran)" has two versions; the first "would appear to be all his own composition" and the second "appears to have been an early effort [by Moran]." In the first, which has two verses, King Pharoah's daughter "tuk it [Moses] to Pharo', who madly wild, Said, 'You foolish girl have you got with child?"; in spite of the efforts of one of the daughter's entourage to dissuade Pharoah he says he'll "search every hole and nook" for the father "and likely I'll find him at Donnybrook." The second, rescued "from the uncertainty of tradition," is much longer (26 rhymed couplets), has no statements at all by Pharoah, and ends with a moral drawn from the life of the boy "which rescued from their bondage the Israel of God": "A conquered nation, though down-trod, it still is never crushed, A Liberator always comes when Freedom's voice is hushed; And so our own dear land, in time we all shall see The Saxon rulers gone - Old Ireland shall be free!" - BS
According to Frank Harte, Moran/Zozimus went blind at the age of two weeks, forcing him into a career in entertainment. He took his stage name from an abott Zozimus who lived in Egypt. Moran died in 1846.
The story of Moses being abandoned by his parents (who had to hide him to prevent him from being killed) is told in Exodus 2:1-10. The picking of his mother, in the Bible, is no coincidence. His sister (presumably Miriam, but the girl is not named at this time) has followed the baby along the Nile, and when the time comes, offers to find a nurse for the baby. Naturally she chose Moses's own mother (Exodus 2:7-8). - RBW
The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.
The song you hear (if you have sound capability) is the song as sung by Tara McKenzie. The song is from this album >
The Finding Of Moses as painted by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Return to Moran Chronology >