I courted a maiden both buxom and gay,
Unheeding what people against her did say;
I thought her as constant and true as the day;
But now she is going to be married.
O when to the church I my fair love saw go,
I followed her up with a heart full of woe,
And eyes that with tears of grief o'erflow,
To see how my suit had miscarried.
O when in the chancel I saw my love stan',
With ring on her finger, and true love in her han',
I thought that for certain 'twas not the right man,
Although 'twas the man she was taking.
O when I my fair love saw sit in her seat
I sat myself by her, but nothing could eat;
Her company, thought I, was better than meat,
Although my heart sorely was aching.
O woe be the day that I courted the maid.
That ever I trusted a word that she said.
That with her I wander'd along the green glade,
Accurs'd be the day that I met her.
O make me a grave that is long, wide and deep,
And cover me over with flowers so sweet,
That there may I lie and take my last sleep;
For that is the way to forget her.
Songs Of The West, S Baring Gould
Baring Gould notes: "Words and music taken down from Old Sally Satterly."
Known in England mainly as The False Bride or The Week Before Easter. In Scotland it's often called The Forsaken Lover or I Once Loved a Lass, though Jeannie Robertson called her set (where the hero is even more bitter than usual) She's Only My Auld Shoes. It's been found in Ireland as The Lambs on the Green Hills. Both Karpeles and Peacock noted sets in Newfoundland, and the Roud Index lists one from Australia. The song was still current in tradition in the 1960s and 1970s; and may well be to this day. The earliest known examples are broadside issues of the late 17th century.
At Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:The forlorn lover
. Printed between 1663 and 1674 for F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright [London]. Douce Ballads 1(83a).The forlorn lover
. Printer and date unknown. Douce Ballads 3(32a).
There are several later copies by Pratt of Birmingham, of which this is one:The false hearted lover
Printed c.1850 by W. Pratt, 82, Digbeth, Birmingham. Printer's Series: (397). Harding B 11(634).
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six