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Fause Foodrage / East Muir King

[ Roud 57 ; Child 89 ; G/D 8:1930 ; Ballad Index C089 ; trad.]

Brian Peters sang Fause Foodrage in 1992 on his Harbourtown CD The Seeds of Time and in 2008 on his CD Songs of Trial and Triumph. He commented in the latter's notes:

Fause Foodrage did appear on a CD of mine seventeen years ago and, although I haven't changed my approach to it very much, I just had to include it here. One of the most gripping stories in the Child canon (murder, jealousy, revenge, surrogate parenthood—what more could you wand?), Foodrage was one of the small number he published with a tune. Since the melody in question is, however, usually associated with another—more lightweight—ballad, i decided to look for an alternative. So I set Foodrage to the grand tune of Lord Gregory, from the fine Irish singer Elizabeth Cronin, of West Cork.

Chris Coe sang False Foodrage in 2001 on her Backshift album A Wiser Fool.

Katherine Campbell sang East Muir King in 2004 on her CD The Songs of Amelia and Jane Harris which is a companion to the book The Song Repertoire of Amelia and Jane Harris, edited by Emily Lyle (2002). Her album's notes commented:

The four stanza fragment of this very rare ballad preserved in the Harris family repertoire is one of those learned by Mrs Harris in her childhood prior to 1790 from her mother’s old family nurse, Jannie Scott, who had been in family service since 1745. Child included this in his collection (Fause Foodrage: Child 89C) along with two other longer texts.

Three kings court a lady and cast lots between them who should win her love. East Muir king and West Muir king win only the gold and the fee, the third king wins her love. East Muir king and West Muir king then make an oath to slay the king of Love on his wedding day. East Muir king reneges on his oath but West Muir king carries out the plan.

This is as far as the Harris version takes the story but, in one of the other versions (Child 89B), the bride gives birth to a bonnie boy who, when he grows to be sixteen years of age, searches for his father’s murderer whom he slays. There is mention of kings of Eastmure Land and Westmure Land in The Complaynt of Scotland written in 1548 and there is a closely related ballad in Scandinavian tradition.

Lyrics

Katherine Campbell sings East Muir King

East Muir king and West Muir king,
An' king o Luve, a’ thrie,
It’s they coost, kevils them amang,
Aboot a gay ladie.

East Muir king, he wan the gowd,
An' West Muir king the fee,
But king o Luve, wi his lands sae broad,
He’s won the fair ladie.

Thae twa kings, they made an aith,
That be it as it may,
They wad slay him king o' Luve,
Upon his waddin day.

East Muir king, he brak his aith,
An sair penance did he.
But West Muir king, he made it oot,
An' an ill deid may he dee.