Lord Rendal
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

Information
Lyrics
The earliest printed version of the ballad is in 1787 in The Scots Musical Museum. There it is titled Lord Ronald, my Son. It may have had its roots in an Italian ballad of the 1600s.

The tune is also known as Lord Randall, Jimmy Randal, Jimmy Randolph, Jimmy Ransome, The Croodlin Doo, King Henry, My Son and Tiranti, my love. It is known throughout the British Isles and North America.

The tune Billy Boy (see links below), is also based on Lord Rendal.

Lord Rendal is Child Ballad #12.

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

Sir Walter Scott associated the ballad with the death of Thomas Randolph (Randal), Earl of Murray - (or Moray), Robert the Bruce's nephew. Randolph died at Musselburgh in 1332 and some suggested because the death was so untimely for Scotland, it could have been caused by poison.

In The Journal of Folk Song Society (Vol.ii., No. 6 and Vol. iii., No. 10) Miss Gilchrist suggests the identity of Lord Randal is the sixth Earl of Chester, who died in 1232. The said Earl was poisoned by his wife.*

According to Burl Ives the tune came to America with followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie who settled in North Carolina after his defeat.

There is a German version Grossmutter-Schlangenkoechin, where the death is due to poisonous snakes. The tune has also been found in Italy, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary and Iceland.

"spickit and sparkit" means speckled and blotched.

Where have you been all the day,
Rendal, my son?
Where have you been all the day,
My pretty one?
I've been to my sweetheart, mother
I've been to my sweetheart, mother

Chorus:
Make my bed soon
For I'm sick to my heart
And I fain would lie down.

What have you been eating,
Rendal, my son?
What have you been eating,
My pretty one?
O eels and eel broth mother,
O eels and eel broth mother,

Chorus

Where did she get them from,
Rendal, my son?
Where did she get them from,
My pretty one?
From hedges and ditches, mother,
From hedges and ditches, mother.

Chorus

What was the colour on their skin,
Rendal, my son?
What was the colour on their skin,
My pretty one?
O spickit and sparkit, mother,
O spickit and sparkit, mother

Chorus

What will you leave your father,
Rendal my son?
What will you leave your father,
My pretty one?
My land and houses, mother,
My land and houses, mother

Chorus

What will you leave your mother,
Rendal my son?
What will you leave your mother,
My pretty one?
My gold and silver mother,
My gold and silver, mother

Chorus

What will you leave your brother,
Rendal my son?
What will you leave your brother,
My pretty one?
My cows and horses, mother
My cows and horses, mother

Chorus

What will you leave your lover,
Rendal my son?
What will you leave your lover,
My pretty one?
A rope to hang her, mother
A rope to hang her, mother

Make my bed soon
For I'm sick to my heart
And I fain would lie down.
Additional Versions
Related Links
From One Hundred English Folksongs, and
*English Traditional Songs and Carols
See Bibliography for full information.