Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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Child 12, "Lord Randall"; Child 13, "Edward"; Child 53, "Lord Bateman" or "Young Beichan"; Child 54, "The Cherry Tree Carol"; Child 73, "Lord Thomas and Fair Elinor" (or fair Annet); Child 75, "Lord Lovel"; Child 81, "Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard" or "Little Mathy Grove"; Child 84, "Barbara Allen"; Child 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows"; Child 155, "Sir Hugh" or "The Jew's Daughter"; Child 173, "Lady Hamilton"; Child 200, "The Gypsy Laddie"; Child 243, "James Harris" or "The Daemon Lover" or "The House Carpenter"; Child 277, "The Wife Wrapped in Wether's Skin"; and Child 286, "The Golden Vanity" or "The Sweet Trinity."
There are about three hundred Child ballads, but for only about two hundred has any music been collected; for the rest, only words survive. The famous ballads we have enumerated share some char­acteristics, and they are representative of the whole Child group (with the exception of a number dealing with Robin Hood), al­though most of the ones mentioned here are tragic, while the ma­jority of the whole group of Child ballads actually do not have unhappy endings. The stories of these ballads are easily available in most of the large array of folk song collections made in the United States, and in Child's own collection, which dates from the late nineteenth century.1 The story usually revolves around one incident, names of places and characters change from variant to variant, and setting and background are only briefly stated. The narrator does not take an active part in the story but tells it dispassionately. There is some dialogue, and there is also a tendency for whole verses to be virtually repeated, as in the following excerpt from Child 200:2
(He says): Take off, take off those milk-white gloves, Those shoes of Spanish leather, And hand you down your lily-white hand, We'll bid farewell together.
(Narrator says): Oh she took off those milk-white gloves, Those shoes of Spanish leather, And she handed him down her lily-white hand, They bade -farewell forever,
1 Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols. (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1882-98); reprinted, New York: Folklore Associates, 1956.
2 Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (London: Oxford University Press, 1952), I, 235.

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