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Little Musgrave

Widespread through Britain and America.
This version is mostly from England.
The tune is from oral tradition.

    As it fell on one holy day,
    As many be in the year,
    Little Musgrave would to the church and pray
    To see the fair ladies there.

    Some came down in red velvet,
    And some came down in pall,
    And then came down my lady Barnard,
    The fairest among them all.

    She cast a look on little Musgrave,
    As bright as the summer's sun,
    And then bethought this little Musgrave,
    This lady's love I have won.

    Good day, good day, you handsome youth,
    God make you safe and free,
    What would you give this day, Musgrave,
    For a night in bower with me ?

    I dare not for my lands, lady,
    I dare not for my life,
    For the ring on your white finger shows
    You are Lord Barnard's wife.

    Lord Barnard is a-hunting gone,
    I hope he'll ne'er return,
    And you shall sleep into his bed
    And keep his lady warm.

    You nothing have to fear, Musgrave,
    You nothing have to fear,
    I'll set my page without the gate
    To watch till morning clear.

    But woe be to the wee foot-page,
    And an ill death may he die,
    For he's away to the green wood
    As fast as he can flee.

    When he came to the wan water,
    He slacked his bow and swam,
    And when he came to growing grass,
    Set down his feet and ran.

    And when he to the green wood came,
    Twas dark as dark could be,
    And he found his master and his men
    Asleep aneath a tree.

    Rise up, rise up master, he said,
    Rise up and speak to me,
    Your wife's in bed with little Musgrave,
    Rise up right speedily.

    If this be true, you tell to me,
    It's gold shall be your fee,
    But if it be false you tell to me,
    I'll hang you on a tree.

    Go saddle me the black, he cried,
    Go saddle me the grey,
    Nor wind no horns, quoth he, on your life,
    Lest our coming it should betray.

    There was a man in Lord Musgrave's train,
    Had a love to little Musgrave,
    And blew his horn both loud and high,
    Away, Musgrave, away !

    Methinks I hear the throstle cock,
    Methinks I hear the jay,
    Methinks I hear Lord Barnard's horn,
    Away, Musgrave, away !

    Lie still, lie still, thou little Musgrave,
    And huddle me from the cold,
    Tis nothing but a shepherd's boy
    Driving his flock to the fold.

    Is not thy hawk upon the perch,
    Thy steed eats oats and hay,
    And thou, a gay lady in thy arms,
    And yet thou wouldst away ?

    He turned him right and round about,
    And he fell fast asleep,
    And when he woke, Lord Barnard's men
    Were standing at his feet.

    How do you like my bed, Musgrave,
    And how like you my sheets,
    And how like you my fair lady
    Lies in your arms and sleeps ?

    It's very well I like your bed,
    It's well I like your sheets,
    But foul may fall your lady fair
    Lies in my arms and sleeps.

    Get up, get up young man, he said,
    Get up as swift's you can,
    It never shall be said in my country
    I slew a naked man.

    I have two swords in one scabbard,
    Full dear they cost my purse,
    And thou shalt have the best of them
    And I will have the worse.

    Slowly, slowly rose he up,
    And slowly put he on,
    And slowly down the stairs he goes
    And thinking to be slain.

    The first stroke little Musgrave got,
    It was both deep and sore,
    And down he fell at Barnard's feet
    And word spoke never more.

    O how do you like his cheeks, lady,
    And how do you like his chin,
    Or how do you like his fair body
    That there's no life within ?

    O well I like his cheeks, she said,
    And well I like his chin,
    And better I like his fair body
    Than all your kith and kin.

    He's taken out a long, long brand
    And stripped it through the straw,
    And through and through his lady's sides
    He garred the cold steel go.

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