Author Topic: Add: Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

Jon Freeman

Posted - 05 Sep 02 - 01:30 pm

I need to sort out a tune for this one but it's been a favourite of mine since hearing Christy Moore do it on his "Black Album".

As it fell one holy-day,
Hay downe
As many be in the yeare,
When young men and maids together did goe,
Their mattins and masse to heare,

Little Musgrave came to the church-dore;
The preist was at private masse;
But he had more minde of the faire women
Than he had of Our Lady's grace.

Then one of them was clad in green,
Another was clad in pall,
And then came in my lord Bernard's wife,
The fairest amongst them all.

She cast an eye on Little Musgrave,
As bright as the summer sun;
And then bethought this Little Musgrave,
This lady's heart have I woonn.

Quoth she, I have loved thee, Little Musgrave,
Full long and many a day;
So have I loved you, fair lady,
Yet never word durst I say.

I have a bower at Buckelsfordbery,
Full daintyly it is delight:
If though wilt wend thither, thou Little Musgrave,
Thou's lig in mine armes all night.

Quoth he, I thank yee, faire lady,
This kindnes thou showest to me;
But whether it be to my weal or woe,
This night I will lig with thee.

With that he heard, a little tyne page,
By his ladye's coach as he ran:
All though I am my ladye's foot-page,
Yet I am Lord Barnard's man.

My lord Barnard shall knowe of this,
Whether I sink or swim;
And ever where the bridges were broake
He laid him down to swimme.

A sleep or wake, thou Lord Barnard,
As thou art a man of life,
For Little Musgrave is at Bucklesfordbery,
A bed with thy own wedded wife.

If this be true, thou little tinny page,
This thing thou tellest to me,
Then all the land in Bucklesfordbery
I freely will give to thee.

But if it be a ly, thou little tinny page,
This thing thou tellest to me,
On the hyest tree in Bucklesfordbery,
Then hanged shalt though be.

He called up his merry men all:
Come saddle me my steed;
This night must I go to Buckellsfordbery,
For I never had greater need.

And some of them whistld, and some of them sung,
And some these words did say,
And ever when my lord Barnard's horn blew,
Away, Musgrave, away!

Methinks I hear the thresel-cock,
Methinks I hear the jaye;
Methinks I hear my lord Barnard,
And I would I were away.

Lye still, lye still, thou Little Musgrave,
And huggell me from the cold;
'Tis nothing but a shephard's boy,
A driving his sheep to the fold.

Is not thy hawke upon a perch?
Thy steed eats oats and hay;
And thou a fair lady in thine armes,
And wouldst thou be away?

With that my lord Barnard came to the dore,
And lit a stone upon;
He plucked out three silver keys,
And he opend the dores each one.

He lifted up the coverlett,
He lifted up the sheet:
How now, thou Littell Musgrave,
Doest thou find my lady sweet?

I find her sweet, quoth Little Musgrave,
The more 'tis to my paine;
I would gladly give three hundred pounds
That I were on yonder plaine.

Arise, arise, thou Littell Musgrave,
And put thy clothes on;
I shall nere be said in my country
I have killed a naked man.

I have two swords in one scabberd,
Full deere they cost my purse;
And thou shalt have the best of them,
And I will have the worse.

The first stroke that Little Musgrave stroke,
He hurt Lord Barnard sore;
The next stroke that Lord Barnard stroke,
Little Musgrave nere struck more.

With that bespake the faire lady,
In bed whereas she lay:
Although thou'rt dead, thou Little Musgrave,
Yet I for thee will pray.

And wish well to thy soule will I;
So long as I have life;
So will I not for thee, Barnard,
Although I am thy wedded wife.

He cut her paps from off her brest;
Great pitty it was to see
That some drops of this ladie's heart's blood
Ran trickling downe her knee.

Woe worth you, woe worth, my mery men all,
You were nere borne for my good;
Why did you not offer to stay my hand,
When you see me wax so wood?

For I have slaine the bravest sir knight
That ever rode on steed;
So have I done the fairest lady
That ever did woman's deed.

A grave, a grave, Lord Barnard cryd,
To put these lovers in'
Bly lay my lady on the upper hand,
For she came of the better kin.

Source: The Penguin Book Of Ballads, ed Geoffry Grigson


Grisgon notes: Child 81A from Wit Restored (1658)

Various typos corrected but knowing me, there may be more. A few things with the text: One verse has "Bernard" not "Barnard", the spelling of "Bucklefordbery" changes in one verse and I'm unsure of "Litell" vs "Little" in a couple of verses.


Edited By Jon Freeman - 9/5/2002 4:39:55

Edited By Jon Freeman - 9/5/2002 11:42:12 PM


Posted - 05 Sep 02 - 05:12 pm

One of my favourites as well. There is a great sense of Fate inexorably unrolling to the thing that seems to be common to many of the ballads I really like. I'm sure that says something depressing about me! Compare it with "The Bonny Birdie", Child 82 if I remember rightly (is there a Bronson tune for that, Malcolm? MMario?) for essentially same story from the wronged knight's perspective

Edited By dmcg - 9/5/2002 5:13:29 PM

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 05 Sep 02 - 06:01 pm

No tune for The Bonny Birdy, so far as I remember; which reminds me, I really have to finish a midi transcription of Ray Fisher's recording of the song; she and Martin Carthy set it to a variant of the strathspey Devil in the Kitchen.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 08 Sep 02 - 02:28 pm

I think I have demonstraded a problem with delaying supplying an abc. The thread dissapears!

All I know is the Christy Moore version which is something like.

T:Little Musgrave
z6G2|G3G G2G2|F2E2F2G2|cc G2G2F2|G6z2|G4G2GG|F2E2F2G2|c2G2F2E2|C6z2
w:It fell up-on a ho-ly day as ma-ny were in the year. Mus-grave to the church did go do see fine lad-ies fair

This tune can be copied and pasted to /abctest/test.htm to get a MIDI.

I don't want to include my attemt at transcribing from memory from Christy Moore into the database. Has anyone got something better?



Posted - 08 Sep 02 - 04:13 pm

I don't seem to have a score for this melody. It seems to be basically the same as that at but there isn't a full reference for that.

Nic Jones also used this basic melody on 'Ballads and Songs'. Probably the best known recording of the song to another tune is by Fairport Convention on Leige and Leif.


Posted - 08 Sep 02 - 07:18 pm


Nic Jones wrote the tune for the version Chrisy Moore sings.

From the notes of his "Ballad and Songs" album:
Musgrave's tune is more a creation of my own than anything else, although the bulk of it is based on an American variant of the same ballad, entitled, Little Matty Groves

I could try to transcribe it, but as it's not a traditional melody, would you want it in the database?


btw I do have a tune from Cecil Sharp's '80 English Folk Songs' Should I post that? (It doesn't fit your words exactly though)

Edited By Ed - 9/8/2002 7:23:26 PM

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 08 Sep 02 - 07:42 pm

I don't have that section of Bronson copied yet, but leave it with me for a couple of days and I'll report back; I have to get some photocopying done at the university before the place floods with students...

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 12 Sep 02 - 06:10 pm

Child's "A" text, Little Musgrave and the Lady Barnard, includes two variants; (a) that appearing in Wit Restor'd (1658) and in the reprint, Facetiae (London, 1817, I, 293); and (b) from Wit and Drollery, 1682, p.81. The latter differs in various details, which are specified in Child's notes. Bronson has no tune for 81A; but comments:
" This ballad is one of those quoted in Beaumont and Fletcher's The Knight of the Burning Pestle (c.1611), and it was entered in the Stationers' Register in 1630. The Gosson broadside [81C] printed by Child is little later, the Percy Folio text [81B] is of about the same date, and the A-text is of 1658. There has also survived a Scottish text earlier than any of these in the Panmure MS., as yet unprinted. None of these early texts, so far as I have learned, either preserves or names a tune. They are in ordinary ballad-quatrains, single or double, and without refrain; except that the A-text has an interpolated "Hay downe" after the first line. In this feature it is like the scrap quoted in The Knight, except that the latter has an extra "down". These may probably be an abbreviated indication of a fuller refrain such as is found at the same place in several of the Robin Hood ballads. Some of the latter add a similar indication after the fourth line. One may conjecture that the refrain as actually sung in these cases was of the Three Ravens pattern, appearing as the second, fourth, and seventh and eighth phrases of an eight-phrase tune. This is a normal form for country dances in the seventeenth century; and ballad-tunes adapted to dancing, usually in 6/8 time, were likely to be so extended. On the other hand, the tune of Arthur-a-Bland, used with some of the Robin Hood ballads, had only this single interpolated phrase after the second line and may be the one here intended."
No certain tune for this example, then. Bronson goes on to say:
"The earliest tunes actually reported from tradition are of a far later date, being Motherwell's of 1827 [Child 81M, Little Mushiegrove] and Chappell's of c.1858. (Rimbault, in 1850, follows Motherwell with editorial alteration.) These are both variants of the same tune."
These two appear in Bronson as (81) Group Ad; nos. 31 and 32.

Two broadside editions of the later 17th century can be seen at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

A lamentable ballad of Little Musgrove, and the lady Barnet  Printed 169- for A.M. W.]O. and T. Thackeray at the Angel in Duck-lane [London]. Firth b.19(13).

[A lamentable] ballad of the little Musgrove, and the lady Barnet  Printed between 1663 and 1674 for F. Coles, T. Vere and J. Wright [London]. Douce Ballads 1(115b).

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 12 Sep 02 - 07:59 pm

Here are the tunes from Chappell and Motherwell as mentioned above. In each case, only one verse was quoted.

T:Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard
B:Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time, William Chappell, 1859. vol. I, p.170.
D2|G2 (G3/F/) E2 c3/B/|(A3/G/) F3/A/ D2 D2|G2 G3/F/ E2 c3/B/|A6 D2|
w:As it fell_ out on a high_ hol-i-day, As man-y there be in the year, When
(G3/A/) B3/c/ d2 (cB)|c2 BA B2 GA|B2 G3/G/ DD F2|G6|]
w:young_ man and maids to_ge-ther do go, Their_ mas-ses and mat-ins to hear.

T:Little Mushiegrove
B:Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xx, XXI, one stanza.
S:via Andrew Blaikie, Paisley.
D2|G2 GF E2 cB|A3/G/FA D2 DD|
w:It fell up_on a_ Mar_tin-mas time When the
G2 G=F E2 cB|B2 A4 D2|GA Bc d2 cB|
w:no-bles were all drink-ing wine,_ That lit-tle Mush-ie-grove to the
c2 BA G2 A3/A/|B2 G2 D2 F3/F/|G6|]
w:kirk he did go For to see the la-dies come in.

The first is quoted from Chappell; I have restored his slurs and word-fitting, which Bronson does not quote. The second is quoted from Bronson (so no slurs); I have fitted the text in what seems to me the obvious pattern.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 13 Sep 02 - 04:59 am

OK, I have tried to add it here. Please check it.



Posted - 13 Sep 02 - 10:31 am

As a matter of interest, the placename mentioned in the version above is fairly unusual.

There appear to be only two surviving placenames with the -fordbury ending (the *ford* bit seems to have been lost from some placenames which originally had it). These are Bayfordbury and Hertingfordbury, both within a few miles of Hertford (Hertfordshire, England). Names which have the Buckle- prefix are also fairly rare, the only three I know are Bucklesbury (a district of Hitchin, Herts) and Upper Bucklebury / Bucklebury in Berkshire.



Posted - 16 Jan 03 - 08:15 pm

I've put an mp3 of Nic Jones' version of this on my webspace.

Doing so is technically illegal, but I don't believe morally so. Click here to download. It's 7.9MB. A big file for dial-up users, but the wait will be justified, I think.

Phil Taylor

Posted - 16 Jan 03 - 10:40 pm

My daughter, whose name is Holly had a teddy bear when she was wee, which she carried everywhere. It got named Bucklesford, on the grounds that The Holly Bear's a Berry...

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