Friday 28 October 2016

Sleep in Peace Children

This song is dedicated to the seventy-five children buried in an unmarked common grave in the Park Lawn cemetery of Etobicoke, Ontario.  Most were Barnardo girls or Barnardo boys: orphaned or destitute British children sent to Canada to become domestic servants or farmhands.  Others were babies born illegitimately to Barnardo girls.  Since this common grave came to light, descendants of other British home children have organized to research the children‘s identities and to erect a monument on the site.  Please see the links below for further information.

Lyrics (c) 2016 Marion Parsons; music Scottish traditional (Lochaber No More)

Where the slow rolling Humber flows down to the bay
As snow turns to springtime, as night turns to day
Amid the old graves of the loved and the blessed
Barnardo’s lost children are gathered to rest.
No footsteps are trodden, no cross and no stone
A sturdy young maple keeps watch all alone
So sleep weary daughter and sleep orphan boy
Sleep in peace children, and wake up in joy.

You sixty-one children, so ragged and thin
So far from your homeland, so far from your kin
The grey skies of England in memories fade
The green fields around you, a promise betrayed.
By sickness or danger, by violence, despair,
To lay down so early the burden you bear
So sleep lonely daughter and sleep wandering boy
Sleep in peace children, and wake up in joy.

You fourteen babes born into sorrow and shame
No grandmother’s wisdom, no father’s good name
No gentle voice easing the heartache and pain
The perils of labour, the prayers said in vain.
A few days or hours, a month or a year
With nought left behind but a name and a tear
So sleep infant daughter and sleep baby boy
Sleep in peace children, and wake up in joy.

You small pilgrims came to this cold promised land
With no one to turn to, with nothing in hand
In search of a family, a future, a home
But found only hardship and hearts made of stone.
And here where you lie in the potter’s plain field
You shall be remembered in granite and steel
So sleep precious daughter and sleep darling boy
Sleep in peace children, and wake up in joy.

For further information:

Toronto Star article

Monument project (British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association)


  1. so beautiful and yet so sad ,England and Canada really failed these little ones ,can't imagine their pain and heartache ,GOD BLESS THEM ALL >
    So happy they are being recognised !

  2. Beautiful words. but very sad !

  3. My eyes tear. So very sad.

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