MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Lamkin

Performed by Mrs. Peter Mushrow Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 18 Track 7
Community: Cape Ray Audio: Yes
Genre: Child ballad / murder Child 93 Musical notation available

Transcription

… to the lady, "Now I'm going away.
Beware of proud Lamkin for he's coming this way."
"What do I care for Lamkin or any of his men,
For my doors they are bolted and my windows brassed in."

They had not been sleeping for but an hour or more,
When proud Lamkin he come and he knocked on the door.
"Oh where is your mistress, your mistress," he cried.
"She is up in her chamber," cried that hard-hearted maid.

"Oh mistress, dear mistress, how can you sleep fast
When your son young Jonathan is breathing his last?"
"How can I come downstairs," she cried, "on this cold winter's night,
With no fire in to warm me or no candle to light?"

"There are two woollen sheets," she cried, "as white as the snow,
And I pray you'll came down by the light of those two."
As she was coming down the stairs not thinking any harm
When Sir Lamkin he caught her and he held her in his arms.

"Come spare me my life," she cried, "until twelve o'clock
I will give you my daughter Betsy although she is my pride."
"Where is your daughter Betsy, go bring her to me.
She may hold the silver basin till your heart's blood runs free."

There was blood in the kitchen, there was blood in the hall,
But the blood in the cradle was the worst blood of all.
Proud Lamkin was then taken up and condemned to die
And the false-hearted servant was burned in the fire nearby.


Notes

Child # 93;Karpeles, 1934:17, 1971:69, 71, 72 (2 variants), 307 (composite), Leach 36, 37, Peacock 806 ("Bold Lamkin");  see http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html, Bronson, for many citations and recordings; Henry 735 ("Lambkin"); Roud 6.

History: Published by Percy in 1775, two narrative forms of this ballad have evolved, one more clearly Scottish, the other Northumbrian.

Text notes: A grim story of a child murderer, Lamkin, and a "lady" who sacrificed her child for her own safety.

Tune notes: Most North American variants are in triple metre, but like many other Newfoundland Child ballad variants, this one has an unusual tune in 4/4 metre.

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