MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Matty Groves
Din Dobbin NFLD 2 Tape 12A Track 3
St. Vincent's Audio:
Ballad

DOBBIN: I’m sort of hoarse today
LEACH: That doesn’t make any difference
Dobbin:
(sings) Being on the first of January the very first day in the year

(Speaks) I’m too high now

(Sings)
Young Matty Groves to the playroom goes some funny things to hear
The first came in was dressed in satin the next was dressed in silk
And the next came in was Lord Donald's wife and her skin as white as milk
Oh and her skin as white as milk

She gazed all around the ballroom
For to see what she could see
Saying Matty Groves this very night
In bed must lie with me oh
In bed must lie with me

I would not sir l dare not
Or l cannot for my life
By the ring ‘ats on your finger
You are Lord Donald's wife oh
You are Lord Donald's wife

If l am Lord Donald's wife
I’m nothing the worst of him said she
Lord Donald on a visit is gone
King Henry for to see oh
King Henry for to see

The little foot-page was standing by
Those words he heard them say
The little foot-page was standing by
When he took to the hills to run
And when he came to the river side
He hove on his breast and swam oh
He hove on his breast and swam

And when he came to Lord Donald’s palace
He jingled hard at the ring
And no one there but Lord Donald himself
For to let the little foot-page in oh
To let the little foot-page in

What news what news have you for me
Sad news sad news said he
Are they any of my stores burnt
Are they any of my towers knocked down
Are they any of my servants in bed this night
With a daughter or a son
With a daughter or a son

There’s none o’ your stores burnt
None o' your towers knocked down said he
But this very night young Matty Groves
Is in bed wit' your fair lady oh
In bed wit’ your fair lady

If that's a lie you've told to me
The gallows I’ll ‘range for you
If that's a lie lord Donald he said
No gallows you’ll ‘range for me
I’m satisfied for to be hung
Out of the apple tree oh
Out of the Apple tree

Oh he called all of his merry men and he counted them one by one
He called all of his merry men
And he coupled them two by two
He put his horn to his mouth
He blew he made it say
Any man that's in bed with another man's wife
Why it's time they be jogging away
Oh it's time they be jogging away

Young Groves he had not been asleep
These words to her did say
I think l hear Lord Donald's horn
l think l hear it say
Anyone that's in bed with another man's wife
Its time they be jogging away oh
Its time they be jogging away

Come huddle me come cuddle me
Just keep me from the cold
For that is my father's shepherd she said
And he driving his sheeps to fold
And he driving his sheeps to fold

He huddled and he cuddled her the two fell fast asleep
And when they awoke to their great surprise
Lord Donald stood at their feet
Oh Lord Donald stood at their feet

How do you like my bed he said
How do you like my sheets
And how do you like my fair lady
That lies in your arms to sleep oh
That lies in your arms to sleep

It’s well l like your bed he said
And better l like your sheets
And best l like your fair lady
That lies in my arms to sleep
Oh that lies in my arms to sleep

Arise arise young Matty Groves
Some of your clothes put on
It will never be said when l am dead
That l killed a naked man oh
I killed a naked man

I could not sir l would not sir
I dare not for my life
For you've got two swords by your side
And I’m without a knife
Oh and l without a knife

If l got two swords down by my side
I paid for them out of my purse
And you shall choose the very best
And I shalI choose the worst
And you shall have the very first blow And I shall have the next

The very first blow young Matty Groves
He wounded Lord Donald sore
the very first blow Lord Donald he gave
Young Groves he was no more oh
Young Groves he was no more

He took his wife upon his knee
These words to her did say
Oh now you must come choose yourself
Between young Groves and me
Oh between young Groves and me

It’s well l do like you she said
But better l do like him
I’d rather his little finger this night
Than all your queen and king oh
Than aIl your queen and king

The bells of Scotland ring tonight
They always ring for sorrow
Lord Donald killed young Groves and his wife
And he'll be hung tomorrow
And he'll be hung tomorrow [last line spoken]


Notes


Sources: Bronson 81 (Little Musgrave and Lady Varnard); Child 81 (Little Musgrave and Lady Bernard); Randolph 20 (Little Mathy Groves); Roud 52; Creighton/Senior pp. 43-49 (Little Musgrave and Lady Varnard); Creighton-Maritime pp. 11-13 (Lord Arnold); Creighton- Nova Cotia 5, (Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard); Karpeles, 1971: 61, 63, 304 (composite) (Matthy Groves); Leach, 1965: 32; Leach-Labrador 5 (Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard); Mercer 1979, 146 (Little Musgrave and Lady Bernard); Peacock, 1965: 613, 616 (Lord Daniel, Lord Donald); Sharp-Karpeles 80E, 18 (Matthy Groves, Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard); Broadsides versions of this text are found in Bodleian, Wood 401:91 (The Little Mousegrove and the Lady Barnet) F. Coles (London), 1658-1664; also Douce Ballads 1 (115b), Firth b. 19(13) (Little Musgrove and the Lady Barnet). Please refer to the Traditional Ballad Index (http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html) (http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html) for an extensive bibliography.

History: According to the Traditional Ballad Index (http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html) the earliest recorded date of this ballad is as a fragment in Act V of the 1611 theatre play “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” by John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont. It is found throughout the British Isles, Jamaica and parts of Canada.

Text: The last two lines of each verse are repeated. Lord Donald’s wife entices Matty Groves into her bed. The foot page goes to Lord Donald and tells him. Lord Donald returns, kills Groves and his wife, and is then hung on the apple tree.

Tune: The text is through composed with an internal refrain on the last two lines of each verse. The melody is repeated with each verse. There are an irregular number of lines per verse, the most common is five. The last words are spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 2/4. The mode is F# mixolydian or F# major with a flattened seventh.

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