The Briery Bush
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

Information
Lyrics
The ballad is known throughout Northern and Southern Europe. There are many versions - fifty in Finland alone. Variants and alternate titles include: The Maid Freed From the Gallows, The Pricklie Bush and Hangman, Hangman. No date is given for the ballad - it is said to be "ancient."

This ballad is Child Ballad #95 (The Maid Freed From the Gallows).

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while,
For I fancy I see my father
A coming across the yonder stile.

O, father, have you my gold?
And can you set me free?
Or are you come to see me hung?
All on the gallows tree?

No, I've not brought thee gold,
And I can't set thee free;
But I have come to see thee hung
All on the gallows tree.

Oh the briery bush,
That prickes my heart so sore
If I once get out of the briery bush,
I'll never get in any more.

O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while,
For I fancy I see my father
A coming across the yonder stile.

Repeat the verses above with
other relatives -
Mother, Brother, Sister, etc.
The song concludes with
The arrival of her "True Love" as below:

O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while
For I fancy I see my true love
A coming across the yonder stile.

O true-love, have you my gold?
And can you set me free?
Or are you come to see me hung
All on the gallows tree?

O yes, I've brought thee gold,
And I can set thee free;
And I've not come to see thee hung
All on the gallows tree.

O the briery bush,
That pricks my heart so sore;
Now I've got out of the briery bush,
I'll never get in any more.
Related Links
From One Hundred English Folksongs
See Bibliography for full information.