The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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THREE FLOWERS                              255
that the inspiring strains of 'Terribus' would be the marching tune of our ancestors when on their way for Flodden Field and other border battles, feuds, and frays. The words of the common-riding song have been changed at various periods, according to the taste and capacity of poets and minstrels, but the refrain has remained little altered. . . . The origin of the ancient and, at one time, imperative ceremony of the common-riding is lost in antiquity, and this old, no longer understood, exclamation, 'Teribus ye Teri Odin,' has (says Dr. Blind) all through ages in the meanwhile clung to that ceremony."
If we can fairly claim that the words of this game have preserved an old slogan or tribal cry, an additional piece of evidence is supplied to the suggestion that the game is a reflection of the tribal marriage—a reflection preserved by children of to-day by means of oral tradition from the children of a thousand years ago or more, who played at games in imitation of the serious and ordinary actions of their elders.
Three Flowers
My mistress sent me unto thine,
Wi' three young flowers baith fair and fine—
The Pink, the Rose, and the Gilliflower:
And as they here do stand, Whilk will ye sink, whilk will ye swim, And whilk bring hame to land ? A group of lads and lasses being assembled round the fire, two leave the party and consult apart as to the names of three others, young men or girls, whom they designate Red Rose, the Pink, and the Gilliflower. If lads are first pitched upon, the two return to the fireside circle, and having selected a lass, they say the above verse to her. The maiden must choose one of the flowers named, on which she passes some approving epithet, adding, at the same time, a disapproving rejection of the other two; for instance, I will sink the Pink, swim the Rose, and bring home the Gilliflower to land. The two young men then disclose the names of the parties upon whom they had fixed those appellations respectively, when of course it may chance that she has slighted the person she is understood

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III