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The Whore’s Lament / The Magdalene’s Lament

[ Roud 8153 ; Ballad Index KinBB03 ; trad.]

The Magdalene’s Lament appears in George R. Kinloch’s Ballad Book (Edinburgh, 1827, 1885, pp. 8-9). The Clutha from Glasgow sang it in 1971 on their Argo LP Scotia!. The tune is a variation of the melody used for The Keach in the Creel, put to the Kinloch lyrics by Don Martin, who commented in the liner notes:

This interesting little piece […] seems to have been part of the repertoire of ‘Mussel Mou’d’ Charlie Leslie, an Aberdeenshire itinerant ballad-singer who died in 1792. reputedly aged 105. He followed his chosen occupation till within a few weeks of his death.

Frankie Armstrong sang this song as The Whore’s Lament on her 1976 Topic LP Songs and Ballads. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album’s liner notes:

It’s too bad when the lady is the victim of a sexual assault and nonetheless finds herself in gaol. Nonetheless in this case she seems philosophical about it. The words—decorously titled The Magdalene’s Lament—were printed in G.R. Kinloch’s Ballad Book (1827). The tune, a re-working of the Keach in the Creel melody, is by Don Martin of Glasgow.


Frankie Armstrong sings The Whore’s Lament

As I come in by Tansey’s wood,
And in by Tansey’s mill O,
Four-and-twenty of Geordie’s men
Kissed me against my will O.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Diddle dow diddle dow diddle dow dow dow
Diddle dee diddle da diddle dow-o

Oh once I was a lady fair,
And liked the young men well O,
Now I’m in the correction-house,
A woeful take to tell O!

When we lived in yon tavern-house,
We lived in a good case O,
Neither wanted nor meat nor drink
Nor bonnie lads to kiss O.

But now I’m in the correction-house,
And sorely do I mourn o;
Now I’m in the correction-house,
And whipped until my turn O.

But when I gets my liberty,
And I hope it will be soon O,
I hope to be a married wife
When my thirty days are done O.