The Hearse Song
"The Hearse Song" is a song about burial and human decomposition, of unknown origin. It was popular as a World War I song, and was popular in the 20th century as an American and British children's song, continuing to the present. It has many variant titles, lyrics, and melodies, but generally features the line "the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out", and thus is also known as "The Worms Crawl In".
While there are reports of the song dating back to British soldiers in the Crimean War (1853–1856), it certainly dates to at least World War I (1914–1918), when it was sung by American and British soldiers, and was collected in various World War I songbooks of the 1920s. The key line "the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out" appears in some versions of the otherwise unrelated song "There was a lady all skin and bone", and may date to 1810 or earlier.
The song has been used in many films, programs and video games, often with a comic horror theme.
It has occasionally been recorded as a song, including:
- In the 1960s, Terry Teene released a rock-and-roll novelty recording, "Curse of the Hearse", based on The Hearse Song lyrics, with a different melody.
- The Pogues recorded a short version of the song entitled "Worms" on the album If I Should Fall From Grace With God, sung by drummer Andrew Ranken.
- Dennis, Dixie (2008). Living, Dying, Grieving. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7637-4326-0.
- Pen, Ronald; Rick Kogan (2010). I wonder as I wander: the life of John Jacob Niles. University Press of Kentucky. p. 100.
- Pankake & Pankake 1988.
- Schwartz, Alvin (1986). Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. HarperCollins. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-06-440170-8.
- Doyle 1976.
- "Terry Teene injured in collision"
- Altrevue: "The bloody classics, The Pogues"
- Abernethy, Francis Edward, ed. (1976). What's Going On? (In Modern Texas Folklore). Publications of the Texas Folklore Society. 40. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-57441-058-7.
- Doyle, Charles Clay (1976). "'As the Hearse Goes By': The Modern Child's Memento Mori". What's Going On? (In Modern Texas Folklore). pp. 175–190.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Pankake, Marcia; Pankake, Jon (1988). A Prairie Home Companion Folk Song Book: More Than 300 Fresh, Funny, and Irreverent American Folk Songs. Viking Adult. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-670-82159-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. (2013). "Worms Crawl In, The". The Ballad Index. Retrieved 7 December 2013.