Brother's Revenge
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

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Lyrics
This ballad apears in Jamieson's Popular Ballads (1806). Jamieson notes that the ballad was popular at that time. It appears in a manuscript by Alexander Fraser Tyler where it is noted as taken down from a Mrs. Brown of Falkland in 1800. There are variants of the ballad in Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Denmark and Norway.

John Jacob Niles collected this tune in 1932 from Kingdom Come Valley, Harlan County, Kentucky. (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.)

This ballad is an American variant of Child Ballad #11 (The Cruel Brother).

Variants and alternate titles include: The Bride's Testament, Ther waur three ladies, The Three Knights and Fine Flowers in the Valley.

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

Three fine maids did play at ball,
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
Three fine maids did play at ball,
Came three lords and wooed them all,
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay.

The first young lord was dressed in yellow,
Il-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
The first young lord was dressed in yellow,
'Come, fair maid, and be my marrow.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay.

The second lord was dressed in red,
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
The second lord was dressed in red,
The last of the lords was dressed in green,
'Come, fair maid, and be my queen.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'You must ask my father dear,'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'You must ask my father dear,
Mother, too, who did me bear.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'I have asked them one and all,'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'I have asked them one and all,
Save Sister Anne and Brother John.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

Father dear did lead her down,
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
Father dear did lead her down,
Mother, sister kissed her crown.
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

John did place her on her steed
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
John did place her on her steed
Ere he did the cruel deed.
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'Kiss me, Sister, ere you part.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'Kiss me, Sister, ere you part.'
As he kissed, he stabbed her heart.
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'Would that I were on yonder stile,'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'Would that I were on yonder stile,
That I might rest and bleed a while.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'Carry me to yon little green hill,'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'Carry me to yon little green hill,
That I might rest and make my will.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'What will you give your father dear?'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'What will you give your father dear?'
'The milk-white steed that carried me here.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'What will you give your mother own?'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'What will you give your mother own?'
'She may have my blood-stained gown.'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,

'What will you give your brother John?'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
'What will you give your brother John?'
'A gallow's pin to hang him on!'
ll-e-o-lay and a lullay gay,
Additional Versions
From The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.