Little Musgrave: Lyrics

Nic Jones, Ballads and Songs

(1) As it fell out upon a day,
As many in the year,
Musgrave to the church did go,
To see fair ladies there.

(2) And some came down in red velvet,
And some came down in pall,
And the last to come down was the Lady Barnard,
The fairest of them all.

(3) And she’s cast a look on the little Musgrave
As bright as the summer’s sun.
And then bethought this little Musgrave,
This lady’s love I’ve won.

(4) Good day, good day, you handsome youth,
God make you safe and free,
What would you give this day, Musgrave,
To lie one night with me?

(5) Oh, I dare not for my lands, lady,
I dare not for my life,
For the ring on your white finger shows
You are Lord Barnard’s wife.

(6) Lord Barnard’s to the hunting gone,
And I hope he’ll never return,
And you shall sleep into his bed,
And keep his lady warm.

(7) There’s nothing for to fear, Musgrave,
You nothing have to fear.
I’ll set a page outside the gates
To watch till morning clear.

(8) And woe be to the little footpage,
And an ill death may he die,
For he’s away to the greenwood
As fast as he could fly.

(9) And when he came to the wide water,
He fell on his belly and swam,
And when he came to the other side,
He took to his heels and ran.

(10) And when he came to the greenwood,
Twas dark as dark can be,
And he found Lord Barnard and his men
A-sleeping ‘neath the trees.

(11) Rise up, rise up, master, he said,
Rise up and speak to me.
Your wife’s in bed with the little Musgrave,
Rise up most speedily.

(12) If this be truth you tell to me,
Then gold shall be your fee,
And if it be false you tell to me,
Then hanged you shall be.

(13) Go saddle me the black, he said,
Go saddle me the gray,
And sound you not the horn, said he,
Lest our coming it would betray.

(14) Now there was a man in Lord Barnard’s train
Who loved the little Musgrave,
And he blew his horn both loud and shrill:
Away, Musgrave, away.

(15) Oh, I think I hear the morning cock,
I think I hear the jay,
I think I hear Lord Barnard’s horn:
Away, Musgrave, away.

(16) Oh, lie still, lie still, you little Musgrave,
And keep me from the cold.
It’s nothing but a shepherd boy
Driving his flock to the fold.

(17) Is not your hawk upon its perch,
Your steed has eaten hay,
And you a gay lady in your arms,
And yet you would away.

(18) So he’s turned him right and round about,
And he’s fallen fast asleep,
And when he woke Lord Barnard’s men,
Were standing at his feet.

(19) And how do you like my bed, Musgrave,
And how do you like my sheets,
And how do you like my fair lady
That lies in your arms asleep?

(20) Oh, it’s well I like your bed, he said,
And well I like your sheets,
And better I like your fair lady,
That lies in me arms asleep.

(21) Well get up, get up, young man, he said,
Get up as swift you can,
For it never shall be said in my country
I slew an unarmed man.

(22) I have two swords in one scabbard,
Oh, dear they cost me purse,
And you shall have the best of them,
And I shall have the worst.

(23) And so slowly, so slowly, he rose up,
And slowly he put on,
And slowly down the stairs he goes,
A-thinking to be slain.

(24) The first stroke little Musgrave took,
It was both deep and sore,
And down he fell at Barnard’s feet,
And word he never spoke more.

(25) And how do you like his cheeks, lady,
And how do you like his chin,
And how do you like his fair body,
Now there’s no life within?

(26) Oh, it’s well I like his cheeks, she said,
And well I like his chin,
And better I like his fair body
Than all your kith and kin.

(27) And he’s taken up his long, long sword,
To strike a mortal blow,
And through and through the lady’s heart,
The cold steel it did go.

(28) As it fell out upon a day,
As many in the year,
Musgrave to the church did go,
To see fair ladies there.

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