click to play

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall;
And the baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
And keeping their Christmas holiday.
The baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, young Lovell's bride.
While she with her bright eyes seemed to be
The star of the goodly company.
Oh, the mistletoe bough,
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

'I'm weary of dancing now,' she cried,
'Here, tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide;
And Lovell, be sure thou'rt the first to trace
The clue to my secret hiding place.'
Away she ran and her friends began
Each tower to search, each nook to scan;
And young Lovell cried, 'Oh, where doest thou hide?
I am lonely without thee, my own dear bride.'
Oh, the mistletoe bough,
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

They sought her that night and they sought her next day,
They sought her in vain till a week passed away;
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly but found her not.
Then years flew by, and their grief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale of the past;
And when Lovell appeared the children cried:
'See the old man weeps for his fairy bride.'
Oh, the mistletoe bough,
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

At length an old chest that had long lain hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid,
And a skeleton form lay mouldering there,
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.
Oh sad was her fate, in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest;
It closed with a spring, and her bridal bloom
Lay withering there in a living tomb.
Oh, the mistletoe bough,
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Everyman's Book of British Ballads. Edited by Roy Palmer.

Abridged from notes in the source book.

There is a tradition that this ballad was inspired by an event at Exton Hall, Rutland, in the early eighteenth century. The owner's daughter Catherine Noel, aged eighteen, got into a large chest during a game of hide and seek. She was unable to open the lid and suffocated before she could be released.

The ballad, written by T.H. Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop in the early 1830's, was popular in the Victorian drawing rooms, but was also taken up by traditional singers, and printed on street ballads.

Roud: 2336 (Search Roud index at VWML)

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z