There was a lady in the North Countrie
(Lay the bent to the bonny broom)
And she had lovely daughters three.
(Fal la la la la la la la la)
There was a knight of noble worth
Who also lived in the north.
If you canst answer me questions two
This very day I will marry you.
Oh what is longer than the way?
Or what is deeper than the sea?
Oh true love is longer than the way
And hell is deeper than the sea.
Or what is louder than the horn
Or what is sharper than the thorn?
And thunder is louder than the horn,
And hunger is sharper than the thorn.
When she these questions answered had
The knight became exceeding glad.
And after it was verified
He made of her his lovely bride.
North Countrie Folk Songs for Schools, Ed Whittaker, 1921, Pub Curwen
This is a cut-down version of Child 1A. One consequence of this is that 'the lady' (presumably the one in the first line) answers the questions, whereas in Child 1A it is the youngest daughter who displays her wit.
For some reason, knights in Child 1 seem to have a lot of trouble counting!
Several copies are held at the Bodleian Ballad Site.
The older copies were printed by Coles, F. (London); Vere, T. (London); Wright, J. (London); Clarke, J. (London) between 1674 and 1679
Copies: 4o Rawl. 566(193)Wood E 25(15)
The Whittaker text was taken from Bruce and Stokoe's Northumbrian Minstrelsy
, and has indeed been shortened. That text was found by J.H. Dixon in the Bodleian Collection (presumably one of the examples in the above links), and published in The Local Historian's Table Book
, whence Bruce and Stokoe got it. The tune they gave was that printed by Thomas D'Urfey in Pills to Purge Melancholy
(1699), though (like Chappell in Popular Music of the Olden Time
) they regularise the time signature from cut-common to 3/4, and also change some notes.
Bronson, on the other hand, uses D'Urfey's note values but amends the barring; two bars are in 2/4 rather than 3/4
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six