The Murdered Brother
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns

Information
Lyrics
This ballad is an American variant of Child Ballad #13 (Edward).

Edward appears in Percy's Reliques (1765). It was sent to Percy by Sir David Dalrymple who may have altered the lyrics and changed the hero's name to Edward. Because of the spelling in the original copy, there was suspicion that the ballad was not authentic. Child discounts this. Motherwell believed the ballad was an incomplete version of a longer ballad, possibly The Twa Brothers (#49) or Lizie Wan (#51). There are variants of the ballad in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany.

John Jacob Niles collected this tune in 1934 in Saluda, North Carolina. (Note: Niles is known to have retouched or written several of the ballads in his book. He is therefore not considered a reliable source. I have included them here out of interest.)

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

'How come that blood on your own coat sleeve!
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'It is the blood of that skinny greyhound
That traced the fox for me,
That traced the fox for me.'

'Too pale, too pale for that skinny greyhound,
Too pale, little son, too pale.'
'It is the blood of that old gray mare
That plowed the corn for me.
That plowed the corn for me.'

'Too red, too red for that old gray mare,
Too red, little son, too red.'
It is the blood of your youngest son,
And the truth I have told to you.
And the truth I have told to you.'

'Oh what, oh what, fell ye out about?
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'Twas over a wand, and a withy-withy wand
That never could be a tree.
That never could be a tree.'

'Oh what will you do when your father comes home?
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'My foot I will place on an old oakum boat
And sail me across the sea.
And sail me across the sea.'

'Oh what will you do with your newly wed wife?
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'I'll save her the grief, and I'll save her the pain,'
And take her for company.
And take her for company.'

'Oh what will you do with your sweet little boy?
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'I'll leave him alone for to wait and to wonder
What's come of his mammy and me.
What's come of his mammy and me.'

'When will you come back to your mother again?
Little son, pray come tell me.'
'When the moon and the sun and the stars set together.
And that will never be.
And that will never be.'
Additional Versions
From The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles,
English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians, and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.