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Origins: Barbara Allen

DigiTrad:
BARBARA ALLEN
BARBARA ALLEN (2)
BARBARA ALLEN (5)
BARBARA ELLEN (3)
BAWBEE ALLAN


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Lyr Req: Barbary Allen #84 (Sheila Kay Adams) (6)
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Richie 24 Apr 15 - 01:21 PM
Richie 24 Apr 15 - 01:23 PM
Lighter 24 Apr 15 - 04:29 PM
Joe Offer 24 Apr 15 - 06:14 PM
Richie 24 Apr 15 - 10:22 PM
Richie 24 Apr 15 - 10:37 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 15 - 11:03 PM
Richie 24 Apr 15 - 11:19 PM
Richie 24 Apr 15 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,# 25 Apr 15 - 12:52 AM
Lighter 25 Apr 15 - 08:36 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Apr 15 - 10:04 AM
Lighter 25 Apr 15 - 11:12 AM
Richie 25 Apr 15 - 03:14 PM
Richie 25 Apr 15 - 08:57 PM
Richie 25 Apr 15 - 09:16 PM
Richie 26 Apr 15 - 02:33 PM
Richie 26 Apr 15 - 02:53 PM
Jim Brown 26 Apr 15 - 04:33 PM
Jim Brown 26 Apr 15 - 04:50 PM
Lighter 26 Apr 15 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,# 26 Apr 15 - 06:36 PM
Lighter 26 Apr 15 - 07:23 PM
Little Robyn 26 Apr 15 - 09:12 PM
Richie 26 Apr 15 - 11:40 PM
Richie 26 Apr 15 - 11:46 PM
Jim Brown 27 Apr 15 - 06:11 AM
Jim Brown 27 Apr 15 - 07:09 AM
Richie 27 Apr 15 - 11:30 AM
Richie 27 Apr 15 - 11:54 AM
Richie 27 Apr 15 - 12:13 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 15 - 12:34 PM
Richie 27 Apr 15 - 03:56 PM
BigDaddy 27 Apr 15 - 04:15 PM
Richie 27 Apr 15 - 08:06 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Apr 15 - 03:16 AM
Richie 28 Apr 15 - 12:01 PM
Jim Brown 28 Apr 15 - 12:15 PM
Richie 28 Apr 15 - 12:27 PM
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Lighter 28 Apr 15 - 01:25 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Apr 15 - 01:27 PM
Richie 28 Apr 15 - 01:33 PM
Richie 28 Apr 15 - 01:42 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Apr 15 - 01:53 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Apr 15 - 01:59 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Apr 15 - 03:06 PM
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Subject: Origins: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 01:21 PM

Hi,

Rather than tack this onto an existing thread I thought I'd start a new one. I need your help trying to understand this ballad. To this end I've written down some thoughts here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/84-bonny-barbara-allen.aspx

and about North America here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/us--canada-versions-84-bonny-barbara-allen.aspx

Following this will be a rather long excerpt of the main page (first link) which may have overlooked some available sources (listed from A-J) and needs comment.

Any comments and suggestions are welcome,

TY in advance,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 01:23 PM

Please read and comment:

With some trepidation I will give a partial analysis or summary of this ballad here, realizing the daunting task of sorting through the many collected versions to reach any conclusions. With regards to the study of this ballad several sources must be consulted:

1) Early sources: including Pepys; Golsmith; Ramsay and Owsald - then continuing to Charles K. Sharpe, Kidson and Chappell. An important early copy by Buchan (Harvard Library) has never been published. This 41 stanza version was referenced by Charles Sharpe and later Child and contains stanzas of the toucher (gifts) to Barbara Allen from her love. Some rare versions (especially the Irish versions - see for example Barry BFSSNE 1933; also my US and Canada version headnotes).
2) Child- English and Scottish Popular Ballads (see below). The A version (Scottish) and B version (English) and their variants are fundamental early versions.
3) In the early 1900s the headnotes to several collections must be considered including Belden, Cox, Davis, Randolph (1946).
4) Recent (after 1950) articles:

A) The British Traditional Ballad in North America by Tristram Coffin 1950, from the section A Critical Biographical Study of the Traditional Ballads of North America

B) Bonny Barbara Allen by Joseph W. Hendren in Folk Travelers: Ballads, Tales and Talk. Dallas, Texas. Boatright, Mody Coggin. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38314/m1/53/

C) "Barbara Allen" in Tradition and in Print- Riley 1957

D) Flanders-Ancient2, pp. 246-292, "Barbara Allen" 1961 Headnotes by Coffin (see also A by Coffin).

E) Bronson: Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads (2)- 1962

F) Versions & Variants of the Tunes of "Barbara Allen"- Seeger 1966 with COMMENT ON THE WORDS by Ed Cray

G) Ed Cray, "''Barbara Allen': Cheap Print and Reprint" article published 1967 in Folklore Internation.

H) "Barbara Allen": Tonal versus Melodic Structure, Part I by Mieczyslaw Kolinski Ethnomusicology, Vol. 12, No. 2 (May, 1968), pp. 208-218 (also followed by Part 2).

I) The Traditional Ballad Index c. 1990

J) Roud Index No. 54 Bonny Barbara Allen (1169 Listings) c. 2000 but updated- also see Keefer's Folk Index, and Child Collection.

This list does not cover in detail the recordings but some of them are found referenced in A-J. It is safe to say that no detailed study of the ballad has been made since the 1960s. Perhaps the best references for the study of the texts would be Coffin (1950) Hendren (1953) Riley (1957) and Cray (1966). I have the texts here and links to the originals (for Hendren and Riley).

So how do we know the ur-ballad, the original ballad from whence the Scottish (Child A) and English (Child B) versions were formed? Riley compares A and B then notes the similarities of both. Hudson, followed somewhat by Riley and then Cray, has sorted the version by opening lines and assigned approximate dates to these versions.

Riley (and I concur) has given the primary area of original dissemination in North America as the Virginia Colony which established the House of Burgess in 1619 a date that probably preceded the ballad landing on the James River's fertile shores. It is important to note the early ballads in that region (extending later to the Appalachians) predate the publication of both Child A and B (and broadsides) from which some influence on the tradition of the ballad was established (Child C Motherwell, 1828).

Dolph in Sound Off! NY, 1949, says that the song was well known in Colonial America and that the tune was borrowed for "Sergeant Champe," a long ballad about an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap General Benedict Arnold. Although this may be true, Dolph provides no actual evidence of its popularity. Dating the ballad back by using individual versions shows that it can be traced (Davis R) to the late 1700s. Barbara (or more properly Barb'ra) certainly arrived on American shores many years earlier and an early date of the late 1600s is not unreasonable-- although conjecture. Lacking evidence, since the early settlers didn't focus on writing down their musical offerings, we must use family lineage to provide an assumed early date for many of the ballads found in North America.

The influence of printed version (Reliques, Miscellany to broadsides) is in my opinion overrated. Tracing traditional versions back to Child A and B may and should be done however, it is likely that they represent traditional versions which eventually may be traced back to the ur-ballad, and should not be considered based on print necessarily. This is an important distinction:

The traditional versions found in the 1900s (and even rarely today) are based mainly on tradition and not on print.

This has become clear in my research on Lord Thomas and other ballads where a large number of print versions were made. It is my postulation that ballads by the folk and of the folk tend to remain with the folk through oral circulation and are passed down from generation to generation through the extended family circle (which includes friends and neighbors).

There is no doubt (and this is sometimes hard to recognize) that some versions were influenced by print and later recordings (from 1927). Other ballads are recreations by informants and collectors (authors). However, the number of ballads based on print or that have been recreated are relatively small. In most cases these untraditional versions will be commented on in my blue-font headnotes (See, for example, US and Canada Versions).

It will be noted that even our earliest versions (Child A and B) have been recreated to some extent (by Percy for example) and do not represent the true ur-ballad. Some of Percy's additions have been uncovered by Riley and others. Riley gives the following:

An examination of the text at the end of this chapter will show phrases that Percy introduced into subsequent history of the ballad. Some of the moat significant are:

Made Every youth cry wel-aways,

Green buds they were swellin'

Young Jemmye Grove

And o'er his heart is stealing

O lovely Barbara Allen

And slowly she came nigh him.

What needs the tale you are tellin'

When ye the cups were filian

As deadly pangs he tell in

As she was walking o'er the fields

She turned her body round about

Her cheeks with laughter "wallin'

Her heart was struok with sorrow

    and the following stanzas:

She on her death-bed as she laye
Beg'd to be Buried by him;
And sore repented of the dye
That she did ere denye him.

Farewell she sayd ye vergins all,
And shun the fault I fell in,
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.

Thus we have a chance to uncover the traditional and those influenced by print. Because of the length of any analysis I will not give additional details here but will write an article detailing my thoughts which eventually will be found attached to the Recordings & Info page.

-----------

TY Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 04:29 PM

Richie:

> It is important to note the early ballads in that region (extending later to the Appalachians) predate the publication of both Child A and B (and broadsides).

Do we know that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 06:14 PM

Hi, Richie -
"Barbara Allen" is one song that really mystifies me. I've heard a lot of theories about the song that I just plain don't believe. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
I've made the thread a PermaThread so you can edit it, so y'all take note that what you post can be edited by Richie. I can't think of a better editor.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 10:22 PM

Hi, TY Joe. That's good, I make a bunch of silly typos!!!

Lighter- certainly this is conjecture. I assume you don't agree with Dolph in Sound Off! NY, 1949, who says that the song was well known in Colonial America and that the tune was borrowed for "Sergeant Champe," a long ballad about an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap General Benedict Arnold.

My theory about the date: The ballad would have to be known in Scotland (Child A) and England (Child B) to be brought over. If Pepys date of 1666 is correct, we can assume the ballad was in fact sung then by Mrs Knipp, the actress, and others. The broadside date can be assigned c. 1690 (Bruce Olsen) so we can assume the ballad was circulating in the British Isles from the mid to late 1600s.

Virgina, the main repository of the ballad in North America (Riley 1957) had its governing body (House of Burgess) in place by 1619 and certainly by the date 1690 when nearly 100,000 settlers were in the region, there's a good chance the ballad was present.

Certain ballad families, like the Hicks family show that the patriarch Samuel Hicks (2nd or 3rd generation in US) was born c. 1695 in Goochland, Virgina and that he and his children carried the ballads into NC and later Beach Mountain, NC before the Revolutionary War. That these ballads which include Barbara Allen have remained there isolated since that time and have spread to different family members is provable.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 10:37 PM

The broadside of c. 1690 is titled "Barbara Allen's Cruelty, or the Young Man's Tragedy; with Barbara Allen's Lamentation for her Lover and Herself, to the tune of Barbara Allen." This copy, preserved in the Roxburghe Collection II, 25, is a stall ballad printed for "P. Brookeby, J. Deacon. J. Blare, J. Bach." Chappell who edited the collection, considered this copy contemporary with Pepys.

That the broadside is to be sung to the "tune of Barbara Allen" proves that at that time (c. 1690) Barbara Allen was a known and circulating ballad with a tune. Thus it predates c. 1690.

Inquiry into the history or the publishers listed reveals that the broadside was probably printed between 1683, when Joseph or Josiah Blare Mean to do business in London and 1696, when Philip Brookaby ceased to do business as a bookseller. [Henry R. Plomer, A Dictionary of Printers, 1922]

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 11:03 PM

"If Pepys date of 1666 is correct"
.,,.
How could it not be? He wrote and dated his diary entries on the day they occurred. Why should he have got them wrong?

Samuel Pepys Diary -- January 2, 1666 -- on the fun and games at a New Years party:

    "...but above all, my dear Mrs Knipp with whom I sang; and in perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen."


Seems clear enough to me.

≈M≈


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARBARA ALLEN'S CRUELTY
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 11:19 PM

I agree MGM Lion, and there's also the Goldsmith reference (sung by a dairy maid) although nearly a century later.

The issue is whether the ballad was known enough at that time mid-1600s to be carried to America. The broadside, Barbara Allen's Cruelty (which is Child B) was to be sung to the tune Barbara Allen further establishes the mid to late-1600s date.

I'm including the text (see Child Ba) as it appeared when first published:

Barbara Allen's Cruelty:
OR, THE
Young-man's Tragedy.
With Barbara Allen's Lamentation for her Unkindness to her Lover, and her Self.
To the Tune of Barbara Allen. Licenced according to Order.

IN Scarlet Town where I was bound,
      there was a fair Maid dwelling,
Whom I had chosen to be my own
    and her name it was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry Month of May,
    when green leaves they was springing,
This young man on his Death-bed lay,
      for the love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man unto her then,
    to the Town where she was dwelling,
You must come to my Master dear,
    if your name be Barbara Allen.

For Death is printed in his face,
    and sorrows in him dwelling,
And you must come to my Master dear,
    if your name be Barbara Allen.

If Death be printed in his face,
    and sorrows in him dwelling,
Then little better shall he be,
    for bonny Barbara Allen.

So slowly, slowly she got up,
    and so slowly she came to him,
And all she said when she came there,
    Young man I think you are a dying.

He turnd his face unto her then,
    if you be Barbara Allen.
My dear said he, come pitty me,
    as on my Death-Bed I am lying.

If on your Death Bed you be lying,
    what is that to Barbara Allen.
I cannot keep you from Death,
    so farewell, said Barbara Allen?

He turnd his face unto the Wall,
    and Death came creeping to him;
Then adieu, adieu and adieu to all,
    and adieu to Barbara Allen.

And as she was walking on a day,
    she heard the Bell a Ringing,
And it did seem to Ring to her,
    Unworthy Barbara Allen.

She turnd her self round about,
    and she spyd the Corps a coming;
Lay down lay down the Corps of Clay,
      that I may look upon him.

And all the while she looked on,
    so loudly she lay laughing;
While all her Friends cryd amain,
    Unworthy Barbara Allen.

When he was dead and laid in Grave,
    then Death came creeping to she
O Mother! Mother! make my Bed
    for his death hath quite undone we.

A hard-hearted Creature that I was,
    to slight one that lovd me so dearly,
I wish I had been more kinder to him,
    the time of his Life, when he was near me.

So this Maid she then did dye,
    and desired to be buried by him,
And repented her self before she dyd,
    that ever she did deny him.

FINIS.
Printed for, P. Brooks by J. Deacon, J. Blare J. Back.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 11:35 PM

Hi,

There is some conjecture (esp. Riley 1957) that the Scottish version of 1740 (Child A) is a rewrite of the English broadside, presumably by James Oswald who published the version along with Ramsay in 1740.

Riley writes p. 62: "that the "Scotch" text is probably a literary reworking of an English text, perhaps by James Oswald."

Riley compares the two texts and notes their similarities. I believe that both are similar because they are derived from the ur-ballad, the earliest prototype, which can be examined remotely by these two texts (Child A and B) as well as other early texts from North America.

The establishment of antiquity has been assigned first by Hudson (Brown Collection 1952) to the opening lines and this has further been examined by Hendren (1953), Riley (1957) and Cray (1966).

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,#
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 12:52 AM

The song receives mention in Songs of the Carolina Charter Colonists (1663-1763) on p 3 which can be viewed at the following link:

https://archive.org/stream/songsofcarolinac1962huds#page/n0/mode/2up


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 08:36 AM

>I assume you don't agree with Dolph in Sound Off! NY, 1949, who says that the song was well known in Colonial America and that the tune was borrowed for "Sergeant Champe,"

I admit to being skeptical, simply because like so many amateur editors and collectors Dolph can not be expected to avoid presenting reasonable conjecture as bedrock fact.

It would be perverse to insist that "BA," first reported in 1666 and later seen to be possibly the most popular Child ballad, was *not* "well known" in America by 1780. But perhaps it was revived through extensive broadside printings in the 19th century? Perhaps it was known but not "well known"? We simply don't know.

What we *do* know is that "Sergeant Champe" goes very well to the *meter* of "BA." That doesn't mean it was sung to the same tune, or that it was intended to be sung at all.

What we know also is that the the earliest discovered appearance of "Champe" in print (source unknown) is in Frank Moore's "Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution" (1856), Dolph's most likely source. Moore asserts that "Champe" was "sung very generally, at home and in the camp, during the last years of the Revolution."

But since the country was awash in patriotic verses about the Revolution right through the Mexican War and beyond, the late appearance of "Sergeant Champe" suggests that the possibility that it was actually a 19th century creation - perhaps written to commemorate the fiftieth (or seventy-fifth) anniversary of Champe's exploit. (More conjecture, of course.) I can find no evidence in various huge databases to support Moore's claim of its antiquity and popularity.

The point is that we since we don't know if the author of "Sergeant Champe" was tapping his toe to the melody of "Barbara Allen" while he wrote, *and* we have no proof that "Champe" existed before the 1850s, we can't use it as evidence that "Barbara Allen" was "well-known in Colonial America."

Perhaps it was, but "Sergeant Champe" cannot be used to prove it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 10:04 AM

And, of course, we can't tell if the little Scotch song that Pepys referred to wasn't a completely different song with the same name.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 11:12 AM

No, but the odds are better.

At least it was a song, and it was about "Barbara Allen."

"Sergeant Champe" appears in the 1850s, and "Barbara Allen" may have had nothing to do with it.

Nice try, Dick!

Many song histories would benefit from an increased use of words like "presumably," "likely," "possibly," "seems to be," and "it's tempting to conclude that."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 03:14 PM

Hi,

I don't believe Dolph has any factual information to back up his claim that Barbara Allen "was well known in Colonial America. . ."

And, although it was likely one of the "Songs of the Carolina Charter Colonists (1663-1763)" songs, I believe there is no proof that it was.

The difficulty as pointed out by Lighter is deciding if the print versions- Barbara Allen's Cruelty (before 1790), Bonny Barbara Allen (1740 Ramsay/Oswald) and Percy's "edited" English version (1765) and then the many print versions in the US (Pearl Songster; Forget-Me-Not Songster) - influenced tradition and how much?

To decide the influence, I'll add some of the significant print versions (I've already given the c.1690 broadside). It is my belief that most unique broadsides and print version were taken from tradition (although edited). A good example of a traditional version that was printed is Barbry Allum (Charley Fox, 1863).

Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: BONNY BARBARA ALLAN
From: Richie
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 08:57 PM

Below is "Scotch" version Child Aa: Bonny Barbara Allan (Ramsay, 1740) followed by Child Ab: Sir John Grehme and Barbara Allan (Percy 1765). Note the footnote by Percy, who printed a version with "Young man, I think ye're lyan'."

From: The tea-table miscellany: or, A collection of choice songs, Scots and ... By Allan Ramsay

Bonny Barbara Allan.

I. IT was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Grœme in the west country
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

II. He sent his man down through the town,
To the place where she was dwelling,
O haste and come to my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allan.

III. O hooly, hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by,
Young man, I think you're dying.

IV. O its I'm sick, and very very sick,
And 'tis a' for Barbara Allan.
O the better for me ye's never be,
Tho' your heart's blood were a spilling.

V. O dinna ye mind young man, said she,
When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan.

VI. He turn'd his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing;
Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan.

VII. And slowly, slowly raise she up,
And slowly, slowly left him;
And sighing, said, she cou'd not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

VIII. She had not gane a mile but twa,
When she heard the dead-bell ringing,
And every jow that the dead bell geid,
It cry'd, Woe to Barbara Allan.

IX. O mother, mother, make my bed,
O make it saft and narrow,
Since my love died for me to day,
I'll die for him to morrow.

-----------------------------------------------

From: Percy's Reliques, 1765, III, p. 131 (Child Ab)

SIR JOHN GREHME AND BARBARA ALLAN.

A SCOTTISH BALLAD.

Printed, with a few conjectural emendations, from a written copy.

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the greene leaves wer a fallan:
That Sir John Grehme o' the west countrye,
Fell in luve wi' Barbara Allan.

He sent his man down throw the towne,
To the plaice wher she was dwellan:
O haste and cum to my maister deare,
Gin ye bin Barbara Allan.

O hooly, hooly raise she up,
To the plaice wher he was lyan;
And whan she drew the curtain by,
Young man, I think ye're dyan'. [1]

O its I'm sick, and very very sick,
And its a' for Barbara Allan.
O the better for me ye'se never be,
Though your harts blude wer spillan.

Remember ye nat in the tavern, sir,
Whan ye the cups wer fillan;
How ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?

He turn'd his face unto the wa',
And death was with him dealan;
Adiew! adiew! my dear friends a',
Be kind to Barbara Allan.

Then hooly, hooly raise she up,
And hooly, hooly left him;
And sighan said, she could not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but twa,
Whan she heard the deid-bell knellan;
And everye jow the deid-bell geid,
Cried, Wae to Barbara Allan!

O mither, mither, mak my bed,
O mak it saft and narrow:
Since my love died for me to day,
Ise die for him to morrowe.

Footnote:

1. An ingenious friend thinks the rhymes dyan' and lyan' ought to be transposed; as the taunt, 'Young man, I think ye're lyan',' would be very characteristical.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARBARA ALLEN'S CRUELTY
From: Richie
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 09:16 PM

Another important early version is Percy's version of the c. 1690 broadside which is Child Bd:

Barbara Allen's Cruelty- (Eng) c.1765 Child B d. Percy

[About B d. Child says: d. was "given, with some corrections, from an old printed copy in the editor's possession." That these corrections were considerable, we know from the *** at the end. The old printed copy is very likely to have been c, and, if so, the ballad was simply written over. It does not seem necessary to give the variations under the circumstances. In 23 Percy has Yong Jemmye Grove.]


V. BARBARA ALLEN's CRUELTY- Thomas Percy 1765

Given, with some corrections, from an old printed copy in the editor's possession, intitled "Barbara Allen's cruelty, "or the young man's tragedy."

IN Scarlet towne, where I was borne,
There was a faire maid dwellin,
Made every youth crye, wel-awaye!
Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merrye month of may,
When greene buds they were swellin,
Yong Jemmye Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man unto her then,
To the town, where shee was dwellin;
You must come to my master deare,
Giff your name be Barbara Allen.

For death is printed on his face,
And ore his hart is stealin:
Then haste away to comfort him,
O lovelye Barbara Allen.

Though death be printed on his face,
And ore his harte is stealin,
Yet little better shall he bee,
For bonny Barbara Allen.

So slowly, slowly, she came up, go
And slowly she came nye him;
And all she sayd, when there she came,
Yong man, I think y'are dying.

He turnd his face unto her strait,
With deadlye sorrow sighing;
O lovely maid, come pity mee,   
Ime on my death-bed lying.

If on your death-bed you doe lye,
What needs the tale you are tellin:
I cannot keep you from your death;   
Farewell, sayd Barbara Allen.

He turnd his face unto the wall,
As deadlye pangs he fell in:
Adieu! adieu! adieu to you all,
Adieu to Barbara Allen.

As she was walking ore the fields,
She heard the bell a knellin; is
And every stroke did seem to saye,
Unworthy Barbara Allen.

She turnd her bodye round about,
And spied the corps a coming:
Laye down, laye down the corps, she sayd,
That I may look upon him.

With scornful eye she looked downe,
Her cheeke with laughter swellin;
That all her friends cryd out amaine,
Unworthye Barbara Allen.

When he was dead, and laid in grave,
Her harte was struck with sorrowe,
O mother, mother, make my bed,
For I shall dye to morrowe.

Hard harted creature him to slight,
Who loved me so dearlye:
0 that I had beene more kind to him,
When he was live and neare me!

She, on her death-bed as she laye,
Beg'd to be buried by him:
And sore repented of the daye,
That she did ere denye him.

Farewell, she sayd, ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARBARA ALLAN
From: Richie
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 02:33 PM

This is the early traditional Scottish text 'Barbara Allan'- Child Version C; from Motherwell's Manuscript, p. 288; from Mrs. Duff, Kilbirnie, February 9, 1825.

1    It fell about the Lammas time,
When the woods grow green and yellow,
There came a wooer out of the West
A wooing to Barbara Allan.

2    'It is not for your bonny face,
Nor for your beauty bonny,
But it is all for your tocher good
I come so far about ye.'

3    'If it be not for my comely face,
Nor for my beauty bonnie,
My tocher good ye'll never get paid
Down on the board before ye.'

4    'O will ye go to the Highland hills,
To see my white corn growing?
Or will ye go to the river-side,
To see my boats a rowing?'

5    O he's awa, and awa he's gone,
And death's within him dealing,
And it is all for the sake of her,
His bonnie Barbara Allan.

6    O he sent his man unto the house,
Where that she was a dwelling:
'O you must come my master to see,
If you be Barbara Allan.'

7    So slowly aye as she put on,
And so stoutly as she gaed till him,
And so slowly as she could say,
'I think, young man, you're lying.'

8    'O I am lying in my bed,
And death within me dwelling;
And it is all for the love of thee,
My bonny Barbara Allan.'

9    She was not ae mile frae the town,
Till she heard the dead-bell ringing:
'Och hone, oh hone, he's dead and gone,
For the love of Barbara Allan!'

This version is important for the reference in stanzas 2 and 3 of the "toucher good" which Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe commented upon and also Child who mentioned Buchan's 41 verse version. Sharpe also mentions the "seven ships" which will be found in early print versions in the US before 1850.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 02:53 PM

Identifying characteristics of the early British Isles versions:

Child Ba- The 1690 English broadside Barbara Allen's Cruelty:

1. In Scarlet Town
   There was a fair maid dwelling,
   Whom I had chosen to be my own,

2. All in the merry Month of May
    when green leaves they was springing,

(her lover is not named)

Child B d Percy's "Barbara Allen's Cruelty- (English) 1765:

1. In Scarlet towne, where I was borne,
There was a faire maid dwellin,
Made every youth crye, wel-awaye!

2. All in the merrye month of may,
When greene buds they were swellin,
Yong Jemmye Grove on his death-bed lay,

(Jemmy Grove is lover)

16. Farewell, she sayd, ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.


Child Ba: Scotch version- Bonny Barbara Allan (Ramsay 1740):

1. It was in and about the Martinmas time (Nov. 11),   
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Grœme (Graham) in the west country         

Child C: toucher or gifts to Barbara Allen- present in Irish versions, some US versions and Buchan

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 04:33 PM

"Note the footnote by Percy, who printed a version with "Young man, I think ye're lyan'.""

Well, not exactly. He just says that an "ingenious friend" of his thought it ought to say that because it would be "very characteristical" (not because he had actually heard anyone singing it that way, or anything like that). He doesn't say anything to suggest that such a version actually existed.

Basically Percy's "Sir John Grehme" version looks to me like Ramsay's text gone over by someone who wanted to make the language look more Scots ("fallan", "dwellan" etc. for "falling", "dwelling" etc., "Ise die" for "I'll die", "hooly, hooly" instead of "slowly, slowly" in stanza 7, and some spelling changes in the same direction) -- perhaps it was the same person who gave Percy the "written copy" that he took it from. Otherwise the only significant differences are in the first two lines of the tavern stanza.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 04:50 PM

"Child C: toucher or gifts to Barbara Allen- present in Irish versions, some US versions and Buchan"

It seems to me that the tocher (dowry) and the gifts are two quite different motifs. In Child C, the issue is the man's motives for wooing Barbara. He's more interested in her dowry than in her beauty – or at least so he says, and she takes him at his word. In versions where the man leaves her gifts, these may sometimes, as apparently in Buchan's long text, be intended to supply a dowry so that she can marry someone else in the future. However this isn't always given as a reason, and the gifts often include things of symbolic rather than monetary value like bloody clothes or a basin full of his tears, which would be of no use in a dowry.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 06:10 PM

If you can stand it, check out "Jimmy Grove and Barbara Ellen" as crooned by the New Christy Minstrels in the late '60s.

Haven't heard it in years. Jimmy comes home from war. It can't be as bad as I remember.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,#
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 06:36 PM

Good Jesus . . . The NCMs sing the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 07:23 PM

Consider the aesthetic implications of the posted comment:

"All the versions that I had found were just wrong and painted Barbara Ellen as hardhearted."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Little Robyn
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 09:12 PM

Slightly off topic, my 3xGreatgrandmother was named Barbara Ellen Colson. She was born in 1810, in Woolwich, Kent. She married Thomas Slucock and their 1st daughter was named Barbara Ellen also, born in 1834, also in Kent, in Chatham. She married Richard Williams and they emigrated to New Zealand in 1860.
I'm guessing/hoping that Barbara Ellen's parents were familiar with the song in the early 19th C, hence their choice of the name. It wasn't a family name - before that there were mainly Elizabeths, with Janes, Eleanor, Ann, a Rachael and a Mary.
But I don't think our Barbara Ellen was hardhearted.
Robyn (nee Williams)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 11:40 PM

Hi,

Thanks for the posts Jim, Percy did publish the changed text in a later edition- (I'll try and find it). As for the toucher/gifts I think they are different- and part of the gifts are "seven ships" - a stanza which closely resembles The House Carpenter (Child 243).

This info about the gifts is from Riley p. 37-38 who has taken it from Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe's notes in James Johnson, The Scots Musical Museum IV- 1853:


Charles Kirkpatrick Sharp identifies himself as the "learned correspondent" referred to by Stenhouse:

In this note Mr. Stenhouse alludes to me. Unluckily I lost the paper I found at Hoddam Castle, in which Barbara Allan was mentioned.

He adds the observation that the peasants of Annandale sang many more verses than have appeared in print, "but they were of no merit, containing numerous magnificent offers from the lover to his mistress--and among others some ships in sight, which may strengthen the belief that the song was composed near the shores of Solway. I need scarcely add that the name of Grahame, which the luckless lover generally bears, is still quite common in and about Annan."

TY Lighter for New Christy Minstrels version.

Little Robyn- it's interesting that many English versions (and many US versions as well) have the name --Barbara Ellen.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 11:46 PM

Before following the "seven ships" which sailed to the US and appear in the Pearl Songster and the Forget-Me-Not Songster (c. 1844), I'd like to get some opinions about the Scotch version- Child A.

Is it traditional? What traditional versions are based on it? Was it composed, in fact by James Oswald. Does anyone have Oswald's version which was published in 1740 the same year as Ramsay's?
--------------

Also- where did Percy get his changes for his English version of 1765 in Reliques?

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 06:11 AM

"Is it traditional? What traditional versions are based on it? "

There's a north-east Scottish version in Albert Friedman's Penguin Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World that includes all the stanzas of the Ramsay version (with fairly minor differences), but also has 1) his request for and her refusal of a kiss; 2) the gifts episode (his gold watch, his prayer book, and a napkin full of his heart's blood) before she leaves him and hears the bells; and then, 3) three stanzas of dialogue between Bawbie and her father, her brother, and her sisters, in which each tells her to take Sir John Graeme and she has to admit that it's too late ("ye know his coffin's makin", "his grave-claes is a-makin", "my heart it is a-brakin"), leading up to the final "O mother dear, o mak my bed" stanza. Friedman reproduces it from Gavin Greig's Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads, 1925, so there may be other similar texts there, or in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection volumes, but I don't have access to these just now to check.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 07:09 AM

"Percy did publish the changed text in a later edition."

Sorry, I should have thought of that possibility. But even then, isn't the source still his "ingenious friend's" proposal? On the other hand, "lying" appears in place of "dying" in Child C, which, being from William Motherwell's MS, has better credentials to be traditional. So at least Motherwell's Mrs Duff in Kilbirnie (or an earlier singer, or the publisher of some broadside or chapbook), must have thought it fitted too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 11:30 AM

Hi Jim,

The version is reprinted from Grieg (his A version) and was collected in 1905 from Mrs. Gillespie- Grieg says it was "learnt in Buchan in her early years." Grieg p. 68, Last Leaves.

It is Ramsay's "Scotch" version with several stanzas inserted; her name is given as Bawbie Allan. The inserted stanzas are the gifts (gold watch an' my prayer book- etc) that Grieg calls "the legacies."

About it Riley says, "It is reasonable to assume that this lengthening of Ramsay's ballad is the work of some hack writer who made these alterations for a stall print. Tradition does not deal with material in this way."

Riley's position will be given later in this thread. Here are the changes added:

After stanza five of Ramsay's version:

"A kiss of you culd do me good.
My bonnie Bawbie Allan."
But a kiss lie you sanna get,
Though your heart's blood were a-spillin."

After stanza six of Ramsay's versions:

"Put in your han' at my bedside,
An' there ye'll find a warran,
Wi' my gold watch an' my prayer book,
Gie that to Bawbie Allan.

"Put in your hand at my bedside,
An' there ye'll find a warran
It napkin full O my heart's blood
Gie that to Bawbie Allan."

Between stanzas eight and nine of Ramsay's:

In then cam her rather dear,
Said, "Bonnie Bawbie, tak hlm."--
It's time to bid me tat him noo
When ye know his coffin's makin."

In then own her brother dear,
Said, "Bonnle Baw-bie, tak him
It's time to bid me tak him noo
When his grave-cloes is a-makin."

Then in cam her sisters dear,
Said, "Bonnie Bawbie, tak him,"
"It's time to bid me tak him noo,
When my heart it is a-brakin."

[From: Gavin Greig, Last Leaves; 1925]

Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARBARA ALLAN
From: Richie
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 11:54 AM

Hi,

The first US broadside I have access to is a reprint of Ramsay titled, Bonny Barbara Allan- Sold wholesale and retail, by L. Deming, corner of Merchant's Row and Market Square, Boston., 1829.

Percy's English version (Child Bd) is reprinted in The United States Songster: a choice selection of about one hundred and seventy of the most popular songs; Cincinnati OH, 1836.

The next US print version dated c. 1844 is given in full. Read footnotes below:

Barbara Allan- Forget-Me-Not Songster (MA) c. 1844 The Forget Me Not Songster, Containing a Choice Collection of Old Ballad Songs, as Sung by Our Grandmothers

It fell about the Martinmas day,
When the green leaves were falling.
Sir James the Graham in the west country
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

She was a fair and comely maid,
And a maid nigh to his dwelling,
Which made him to admire the more,
The beauty of Barbara Allan.

O what's thy name my bonny maid,
Or where hast thou thy dwelling,
She answer'd him most modestly,
My name is Barbara Allan.

O see you not yon seven ships, [1]
So bonny as they are sailing,
I'll make you mistress of them all,
My bonny Barbara Allan.

But it fell out upon a day,
At the wine as they were drinking,
They toasted their glasses around about,
And slighted Barbara Allan.

O she has taken't so ill out,
That she'd no more look on him.
And for all the letters he could send,
Still swore she'd never have him.

O if I had a man, a man,
A man within my dwelling,
That will write a letter with my blood,
And carry't to Barbara Allan.

Desire her to come here with speed,
For I am at the dying.
And speak one word to her true love,
For I'll die for Barbara Allan.

His man is off with all his speed,
To the place where she is dwelling,
Here's a letter from my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allan.

O when she looked the letter upon,
With a loud laughter gi'd she,
But e'er she read the letter through,
The tear blinded her eye.

O hooly, hooly,[2] rose she up,
And slowly gaed she to him,
And slightly drew the curtains by,
Young man I think you're dying.

O I am sick, and very sick,
And my heart is at the breaking,
One kiss or two of thy sweet mouth,
Would keep me from the dying.

O mind you not young man, said she,
When you sat in the tavern,
Then you made the health go round,
And slighted Barbara Allan.

And slowly, slowly, rose she up,
And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said she could not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gone a mile from the town,   
Till she heard the dead bell knelling,
And every knell that dead bell gave,
Was wo to Barbara Allan.

Now when the virgin heard the same,
Sure she was greatly troubled,
When in the coffin his corpe she view'd,
Her sorrows all were doubled.

What! hast though died for me, she cried.
Let all true lovers shun me,
Too late I may this sadly say,
That death has quite undone me.

O, mother, mother make my bed,
O make it soft and narrow,
Since my love died for me to-day,
I'll die for him to-morrow.

1. This is the distinctive stanza also found in the Pearl Songster of 1845. This stanza was mentioned by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe as being sung in Annandale. See quote earlier in this thread- above.

2. Scottish for slowly, slowly (sometimes sung "slow-lie"). The fact that this is "hooly" instead of slowly" shows that it was taken from an earlier print source such as the Tea-Table Miscelleny (Child Aa, printed in Glasgow) which has that stanza and is nine stanzas total. Additional stanzas have been added and the first line and other places have been changed slightly. Neither version has the rose-and-briar ending.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 12:13 PM

Hi,

It will be noted now that all the main early "print" versions (Allingham published a hybrid version which we will look at later along with several other broadsides from the British Isles) have been posted as well as one (Child C- Motherwell) traditional version.

The "rose-brier" ending is not present and can be considered a traditional addition.

The "warning" ending (English version similar to Child B) given by Percy in 1765, may or may not be traditional - depending on Percy's source(s) for his addition. It's only found in a few versions- see Barry A for one.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 12:34 PM

"The "rose-brier" ending is not present and can be considered a traditional addition."
Assuming that the broadsides predated the traditional versions - dare I mention?
We have no idea whether the song existed in the oral tradition prior to it being printed and probably never shall
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 03:56 PM

Hi Jim,

This brings up an excellent point and I'm glad you mentioned it:

That print versions in this case are based on the ur-ballad, which is an unknown traditional ballad.

One way we know this is, the first print version of circa 1690 was to be sung to the tune of Barbara Allen, which means that the ballad pre-dates print and it also implies that the ballad was sung enough for the tune to be known.

In my opinion the print versions would be based on known traditional versions, unless of course, the print version was composed and newly printed. Since Barbara Allen was in circulation (Pepys 1666) and the tune and I assume the ballad was commonly known about that time, I am looking to recreate the traditional ur-ballad by using print and traditional versions.

It is, as you point, out possible that the rose-brier ending was sung but not included in print (instead of added later), however unlikely that would be.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: BigDaddy
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 04:15 PM

The song has been sung in my family for at least six generations. I learned it from my mother, who learned it from hers, and so on, and so on. The cool thing about this (well, one of the cool things) is that none of the singers in my family had ever heard a recorded version of the song until after my mother and her aunts sang it for me. We were surprised to hear a recording by Pete Seeger (circa 1962). The reaction of three generations of my family was, "where did he ever learn that one?" Fun thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 08:06 PM

Hi Big Daddy,

Can you supply the text please along with the location and if possible a name?

Very cool,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 03:16 AM

"This brings up an excellent point and I'm glad you mentioned it:"
The oral tradition/printed version link has become n increasing fascinated me from our work at recording Irish Travellers who, though as a community, were non-literate, had the greatest influence in preserving Child Ballads in Ireland than any other social group - Lamkin, Lord Bateman, Maid and the Palmer, Young Hunting, Lord Gregory, Sweet William and Fair Margaret (Child 74), Famous Flower, Thomas of Winesbury, Outlandish Knight, to name but a few - all found in the Irish Traveller repertoire in the latter half of the 20th century - some of them the only surviving oral versions.
The last remnants of the broadside trade here - the ballad sheets continued into the 1950s and was carried out by non-literate Travellers.
We interviewed a Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy who sold the Ballads and described that, along with 'Little Grey Home in the West', Patsy Fagan, etc, e also sold "my father's songs", which included 'The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green', which he described as the oldest song he knew.
He described how he would go with his mother to a local printer and recite the songs over the counter to the printer, who would then run off the required number to be sold at rural fairs and markets.
The link between print, the oral tradition and literacy has never been fully discussed and it seems to me that we are far too ready to attribute the origins of these ballads and songs to printed versions.
Any knowledge we have of the oral traditions dates back only to the end of the 19th century and that is, to say the lest, extremely flimsy and based on singing traditions that largely were disappearing and being remembered rather than thriving.
Hardly grounds to base firm conclusion on origins on.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 12:01 PM

TY Jim,

Do you have any information regarding Irish versions, I know the reference by Goldsmith (mid 1700s) and Joyce (c 1883) gives only a scant two lines?

It's been postulated by Barry (1934 BFSSNE) and others (through Irish versions collected in the US) that blood letting and gifts are usually present in Irish versions. Do you agree? Are there other identifying characteristics?

Do you have any Irish Travellers texts you can contribute? Are there any lists of Irish versions?

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 12:15 PM

"There is some conjecture (esp. Riley 1957) that the Scottish version of 1740 (Child A) is a rewrite of the English broadside, presumably by James Oswald who published the version along with Ramsay in 1740."

I'd be interested to know if anyone has actually seen what it was that Oswald published in 1740 in "A Curious Collection of Scots Tunes". Did he publish the words, or just the melody? Riley says she hadn't seen the book (p. 45) and she relies on Hendren. But Hendren says he hadn't seen any of Oswald's books (p. 71 note 3) and had "pieced together" what he knew of them from the comments of other editors. Bronson mentions it as a possible earlier source for the tune he gives as 84.40, but also says he hadn't seen it. I've found the full title cited as: "A Curious Collection of Scots Tunes for a violin, bass viol. or German flute, with a thorough bass for the harpsichord, and also a sonata of Scots tunes in 3 parts and some masons' songs with the words, for 3 voices, to which is added, a number of the most celebrated Scots tunes set for a violin or German flute", which seems to suggest that it is a collection of instrumental music (apart from the "masons' songs", but I'm not sure how "Barbara Allen" would fit into that category). Oswald's later collection, "The Caledonian Pocket Companion" is certainly just a collection of tunes, and indeed includes "Barbara Allan" (melody only). It can be found online at archive.org, but unfortunately not the "Curious Collection", although I understand it has been reissued recently on CD-ROM.

In any case, Riley's argument for Oswald as the likely author seems rather weak – basically that some comments by his contemporaries suggest that he had some literary skill, therefore he could have written it. Quite possible he could, but given that Allan Ramsay, who certainly published the words (without the tune) in 1740, is a well-known poet, if either of them was the author (which of course is a very big "if"), I would have thought Ramsay rather than Oswald would be the obvious candidate.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 12:27 PM

Hi Jim Brown,

I'll put a link to Riley's thesis (unedited- mostly raw text) titled, "Barbara Allen" in Tradition and in Print- 1957 which is on my site: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/barbara-allen-in-tradition-and-in-print--riley-1957.aspx

The thesis may be viewed at:

http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2435&context=luc_theses

Riley did not have Oswald's version either. It is curious that both came out in 1740 which makes it clear that one was taken from the other.

I don't agree with Riley's statement either, but it goes to her point that there are no legitimate traditional versions based on the 1740 Scotch version (Child A). She also believes that the Scotch version was a rewrite of the English broadside and names Oswald as the likely recreator.

Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARB'RY ALLEN
From: Richie
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 12:31 PM

I'll include a few Irish versions from the US, the first is from Flanders; Ancient Ballads 1961, dated pre-1867.

G. Barb'ry Allen- Mrs. Ellen M. Sullivan, of Springfield, Vermont, who came as a young child to America in 1867, a native of County Cork, Ireland, sang this version. H. H. F., Collector; July 12, 1932.


It was in the springtime of the year
When flowers they were blooming,
A young man came from the north country,
Fell in love with Barb'ry Allen.

He sent his footman to her house,
Unto her house and dwelling,
Saying, "Arise, arise and come with me
If your name be Barb'ry Allen."

It's slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly she Put on it
And slowly, slowly, she arose
And slowly she went with him.

Until she came into his house
And to his house and dwelling,
And the very first words that e'er she spoke
Was, "I fear, young man, you're dying."

"A dying man I am not yet,
One kiss from you will cure me."
"One kiss from me you ne'er will get
If your poor heart was breaking."

"You remember last Saturday night
When in the tavern drinking,
You drank a health to all fair maids
And slighted Barb'ry Allen."

"Yes, I remember last Saturday night
When in the tavern drinking,
I drank a health to all fair maids
But remembered Barb'ry Allen.

"Look up, look up at my bed's head,
You'll see a gold watch hanging,
My gold watch and precious chain,
Give them to Barb'ry Allen.

"Look down, look down at my bed's foot,
You'll see a basin standing,
It overflows with my heart's blood,
I shed for Barb'ry Allen."

As she walked in her father's woods
She heard the dead bell ringing
And every toll the death bell gave
Was "hard-hearted Barb'ry Allen."

As she walked in her father's lawn
She saw the corpse a-coming.
"Lay down, lay down the corpse," she said,
"That I may look upon him."

The corpse was laid down at her feet.
There she stood a-laughing.
"Oh, fie, for shame," her friends all cried,
"Hard-hearted Barb'ry Allen!"

"Go make my bed, mama," she said,
"Oh, make it soft and mellow
For a young man died for me last night
And I'll die for him tomorrow."

"Oh, dig my grave, papa," she said,
"And dig it deep and narrow,
For a young man died for me last night
And I'll die for him tomorrow." [1]

One was buried in the middle of the church,
The other, in Mary's Abbey.
Out of one there grew a rose
And out of the other a briar.

And every night at twelve o'clock
They twined in a true lover's knot
The red rose and the briar.

1. On July 13 the last two lines of this stanza were given as,

"And plant it o'er with laurel leaves
That you may think upon me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:25 PM

> It can be found online at archive.org, but unfortunately not the "Curious Collection."

One page of the "Curious Collection" is viewable at the ECLAP website. (For tens of thousands of Euros you can access the entire book as well as the entire collection of of the "E-Library for the Performing Arts.)

The page shows music only and its instrumental-friendly format suggests to me that no lyrics were included. It is a "tune" book after all.

Inconclusive, of course, but an indication of what someone with access to the book might expect to find. Or not.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:27 PM

This last version includes the Rose-Briar "Sympathetic Plants" floating motif, which occurs in versions of several ballads. Just to reiterate [I have mentioned it before] the great Harry Cox hated these lines being included in this ballad, insisting that they belonged in 'Lord Lovell' ('Lord Lovely', as he called it).
An interview with him by Bob Thomson and me in Catfield Norfolk shortly before his death in May 1971, transcript published in Folk Review for February 1973, contained the following assertions from him:--

~~~'Barbara Ellen' now, I remember it. Some people sing that different to what other people do. You might know a different tune. And there's some put another two verses at the end. I never could. 'And from her grave grew a rose'. The other one come in 'Lord Lovely' — 'Where they tied together in a true-love's knot, For true loves all to admire.' That's in another song. They get mixed up, that shouldn't come in 'Barbara Ellen'. That don't belong in that. They belong in 'Lord Lovely'. My uncle used to sing that.~~~

≈M≈


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Subject: Lyr Add: BARBARA ALLAN
From: Richie
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:33 PM

Hi,

This will be my last Irish version from the US for now. It likely dates back to the 1800s in Vermont where it was learned from an Irish immigrant- taken from Flanders; Ancient Ballads 1961. The interesting features include the blood-letting stanza and the last stanza is Percy's 1765 "warning stanza" which is his version of the English broadside "Barbara Allen's Cruelty."

H. Barbara Allen- The words of this song were furnished by Adam Johnson of Mooer's Forks, New York. Thomas Armstrong of Springfield, Vermont, knew the tune. Mr. Johnson learned this ballad, when a child, from a lady in Mooer's Forks who was
born in Ireland. See H2 and H3. H. H. F., Collector; March 20, 1935

It was early, early in the month of May,
When the trees were ripe and mellow,
That a young man lay a-dying on his bed
For the love of Barbara Allen.
That a young man lay a-dying on his bed,
For the love of Barbara Allen.

Then quickly, quickly she came to him
At the place where he was dwelling
And said as she drew the curtains aside,
"Poor boy, I am sorry you are dying."
(Repeat last two lines for each verse)

"Not dying yet, not dying yet,
One kiss from You will save me."
"One kiss from me you never shall receive,
White on your death-bed lying.

"Do you remember last Saturday night,
When in the ale-house drinking,
You drank your health to all the pretty maids,
And you slighted me, Barbara Allen?"

"Yes, I remember last Saturday night
White in the ale-house drinking,
I drank my health to all the pretty maids
And I slighted you, Barbara Allen.

"Look down, look down at the foot of my bed,
There you'll see a basin setting,
And in it is poured my heart's pure blood,
Which I shed for you, Barbara Allen."

As she was going from the room,
She turned and said unto him,
"I cannot keep you from your doom;
Farewell," said Barbara Allen.

He turned his face unto the wall,
As deadly pangs he fell in;
"Adieu! Adieu! Adieu to you all,
Adieu to Barbara Allen."

As she was walking o'er the fields
She heard the bell a-knellin',
And every stroke did seem to say,
"Unworthy Barbara Allen."

She turned her body around about
And spied the corpse a-comin',
"Lay down, lay down the corpse," she said,
"That I may look upon him."

With scornful eye she looked down,
Her cheeks with laughter swellin'
Whilst all her friends cried our amain,
"Unworthy Barbara Allen."

When he was dead and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow;
"O mother, mother, make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow.

"Hard-hearted creature, him to slight
Who loved me oh, so dearly,
Oh, had I been more kind to him
When he was alive and near me!"

She on her death-bed as she lay
Begged to be buried by him
And sore repented of the day
That she did e'er deny him.

"Farewell," she said, "ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in;
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Richie
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:42 PM

Hi MGM,

There is a whole thread from several years ago on the "rose-briar" ending on Mudcat which was started by Susan Lepak.

Personally, I ascribe the "rose-briar" ending to the ancient ballad, Child 74, Fair Margaret and Sweet William.

The ending is very common in the US and is associated with Barbara Allen here.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:53 PM

Hi Richie: Indeed it certainly frequently occurs in #74 also. But it is surely, as I say, a "floater", which can furnish an appropriate coda to any of the several [or indeed many] ballads which end with the deaths of the two main protagonist lovers. I should think it a somewhat chimerical search to attempt to establish in which it made its first appearance!

I am always intrigued that Harry Cox, who was well aware of the existence of multiple versions ("Some people sing that different to what other people do. You might know a different tune") should nevertheless in this instance have accused those who included matter he knew in the context of another song, of getting "mixed up".

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 01:59 PM

You will note BTW that the second post in the Susan thread you ref'd above was from me, purveying the precise Cox quote I have [as I admitted] reiterated above.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 03:06 PM

Are there any lists of Irish versions?
Not as far as I know, but as in Britain and the US, it it probably the most popular Anglo Irish Ballad to be found here.
Jean Richie remarked back in the 50s that, if you were looking for traditional songs in ant area, you only had to ask did anybody know Barbara Allen, and the songs came rolling in.
Tom Lenihan's version, with it's particularly fine tune, is to be found here on the Clare County Library website
Carroll Mackenzie Collection
We must have got around half a dozen versions from Travellers - all similar in structure.
In all, fifty one Child ballads were still being sung by source singers in Ireland up to the 1980s
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 04:22 PM

Tom Lenihan's fine tune is, to my ear, closely related to the familiar "In Scarlet Town where I was born" one; and the text also [which, note, lacks 'rose-briar']: with addition of the three-line refrain, in form — last line, followed by two last lines, repeated.
Interesting how it characteristically begins as a first-person narrative, the narrator himself occupying the "Young·Jemmy·Grove/Sir·John·Graeme/Sweet·William" role; but segues into third-person after his death. Beautiful, and fascinating, version indeed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Jim Brown
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 05:41 PM

> Riley did not have Oswald's version either. It is curious that both came out in 1740 which makes it clear that one was taken from the other.

Perhaps not so curious. Edinburgh wasn't such a big place in 1740, and Ramsay and Oswald must have known each other. (Ramsay is generally considered to be the author of an anonymous poem lamenting the loss to Edinburgh musical life when Oswald left for London.)

Like Lighter, I would guess that Oswald's book is most likely music only, and Ramsay's is certainly words only. If Oswald did indeed publish the "Barbara Allan" tune in 1740, around the same time that Ramsay published the words, one explanation would be that the song was already circulating in something like the form that Ramsay published it, and was sung to that tune. But I suppose the possibility that Ramsay wrote the words and Oswald composed a suitable tune, or borrowed an existing tune, isn't excluded.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Barbara Allen
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 08:31 PM

> In all, fifty one Child ballads were still being sung by source singers in Ireland up to the 1980s.

Really remarkable, Jim - at least in the context of earlier, narrower scholarship that observed how rare were Child ballads in Ireland.


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