> John Kirkpatrick > Songs > The Nobleman’s Wedding

The Nobleman’s Wedding / Another Man’s Wedding / The Orange and the Blue / Down in the Valley

[ Roud 567 ; Master title: The Nobleman’s Wedding ; Laws P31 ; G/D 6:1199 ; Henry H60ab ; Ballad Index LP31 ; VWML HAM/3/18/4 ; Bodleian Roud 567 ; Wiltshire 559 ; DT NOBLEWED , WEARWILO ; Mudcat 23329 ; trad.]

Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People John Ord: Bothy Songs and Ballads Frank Purslow: Marrow Bones James Reeves: The Idiom of the People

Eddie Butcher sang Another Man’s Wedding in a recording made by Hugh Shields in Butcher’s home in Magilligan, Co. Derry, in 1955 on his 1976 Leader record Shamrock Rose & Thistle and on the Topic anthology Tonight I’ll Make You My Bride (The Voice of the People Volume 6).

Bella Higgins sang Late Last Night I Was Asked to a Wedding to Maurice Fleming in 1955 in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. This track was included in 2011 on the Greentrax anthology Songs and Ballads From Perthshire Field Recordings of the 1950s (Scottish Tradition 24).

Sara Cleveland of Brant Lake, New York, sang To Wear a Green Willow to Sandy Paton in 1965. This recording was included in 1968 on her Folk-Legacy album Ballads & Songs of the Upper Hudson Valley.

Cathie Stewart sang this song as Orange and Blue in a recording made by Bill Leader in Scotland in 1967 on the 1968 Topic album of songs and ballads from the lowland east of Scotland, Back o’ Benachie. Peter Hall noted:

This song, widespread throughout the British Isles, is usually called The Unconstant Lover in North-East Scotland. It is the kind of song into and out of which verses wander fairly easily. Commonly the bride asks to spend the wedding night at her mother’s and is found dead in the morning. On musical evidence, this version is probably a fairly recent acquisition from Ireland.

Belle Stewart sang it as Late Last Night in 1977 on her Topic album of Scots traditional songs and ballads, Queen Among the Heather. Geordie McIntyre noted:

This ballad is more widely known as The Nobleman’s Wedding and many versions are scattered throughout the British Isles. It has been printed widely in broadsheet form. It is allegedly the basis of the London street song All Around My Hat I Will Wear the Green Willow. An examination of the various texts makes this suggestion credible. Belle learned the song from Ruby Kelby of Banff whose mother, the late ‘Teeny’ McKenzie, had an extensive repertoire.

Belle’s daughter Sheila Stewart sang The Nobleman’s Wedding in a recording made by Doc Rowe in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, in October 1998 on her 2000 Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition. Doc Rowe noted:

Another song from Ruby Kelbie of Banff, whose mother, ‘Teeny’ McAllister, had such an enormous repertoire. It was recorded as Late Last Night by Belle Stewart on Queen Among the Heather (Topic 12TS307).

This ballad was popular throughout Britain and Ireland and circulated widely in broadsheet form. At the wedding supper, after an old lover sings of how he had been rejected by her, the newly wedded bride collapses from remorse and the new husband fails to revive her. In Sheila’s version the bride dies during the night alongside her new husband—yet more often we find her (perhaps understandably) spending the night with her mother.

The wearing of three coloured mourning suits in Sheila’s last verse (not noted by MacColl and Seeger) very likely symbolise the sorrow, shame and misery also referred to in False, False. In a Donegal version:

Now I will wear a suit of deep mourning.
Suits of deep mourning I will wear two or three,
And then I will wear my own wedded garment,
And I’ll try not to go between the bark and the tree.

The mourning colours are also found in Orange and Blue, from north-east Scotland and it is easy to see why it is often thought that this is the basis for the well-known song, All Around My Hat:

First I’ll put on a coat of green velvet,
This I will wear for one month or two,
And then I’ll put on the green and the yellow
And aye and aye after, the orange and blue.

If anyone should ask me, should ask me, should ask me
Why I do wear such a costly array,
It’s I will quickly tell them why I wear it,
Because my true love lies cold in the clay.

Daisy Chapman from Aberdeen sang Down in the Valley at the King’s Head folk club, Islington, North London, on 15 April 1970. This recording made by Rod Stradling was released in 2000 on her Musical Traditions CD Ythanside, and was included in 2012 on the Musical Traditions anthology King’s Head Folk Club. Rod Stradling noted in the latter album’s booklet:

There are 108 instances of this old ballad in Roud. It has been widely found in Scotland, Ireland, England, Canada and the USA, but it has not survived well into modern times in England—there are 28 known sound recordings, but none are of English singers. Other available recordings include Paddy Doherty (Inishowen Trad. Singers ITSC001), Joe Heaney (Folktracks FSB015), Eddie Butcher (Topic TSCD656) and Belle Stewart (Folktracks FSA182). Cathie Stewart also used to sing it memorably, and her sister Sheila has included it on her recently released Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition (TSCD515).

It is found in Folk-Song of the North-East under the title The Orange and Blue and in the Greig-Duncan Collection under several titles including The Nobleman’s Wedding and the one used here—but it is most widely known, albeit in a far simpler form, as All Around My Hat. Roud considers this to be a separate song, numbered 22518—which adds a further 85 instances! The well known singer, Barbara Dickson, whose roots were in the Scottish folk revival of the 1960s, met and heard Daisy sing this song at the 1968 Blairgowrie Festival. Barbara later recorded the song and included it on her album From the Beggar’s Mantle on Decca, issued in the early 1970s.

My comments on The False Bride, about the bitterness of some Scottish songs of unrequited love, apply equally here—how else to read the final two verses?

Barbara Dickson sang The Orange and the Blue in 1971 on her Decca album From the Beggar’s Mantle… Fringed With Gold.

James McDermott sang The Nobleman’s Wedding in McGrath’s bar, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, on 6 August 1980 to Keith Summers. This track was included in 2014 on the Musical Tradition anthology of traditional songs from around Lough Erne’s shore collected by Keith Summers, I Pray You Pay Attention.

Nick Dow sang Another Man’s Wedding in 1983 on his album A Poor Man’s Gift and in 2018 on his CD of unaccompanied traditional folk songs, Far and Wide. He noted on the latter album:

Also known as The Nobleman’s Wedding, in England. This version comes from Eddie Butcher, however Joe Holmes has a very similar version. I first heard it sung by Keith Chandler, when I was resident at Dingle’s Folk Club in London in the 1970’s. I first recorded it in 1982, and this has inspired Jim Moray to learn the song and record it. My voice has matured over the years and I have revisited the song here.

Sara Grey sang Another Man’s Wedding in 1996 on her Waterbug album Back in the Airly Days. She noted:

This dates probably from the eighteenth century. It is an English ballad sung in various versions in many parts of Ireland. From the 1850s it became the object of Anglo Irish literary adaptation and Irish airs were often used. The narrative is simple and clear: textual variation consists mainly of lyric embellishment of the theme. This version, from Magilligan in Northern Ireland, comes from the singing of Eddie & Robert Butcher.

John Kirkpatrick sang The Nobleman’s Wedding in 2007 on his CD Make No Bones. He noted:

Collected by the Hammond brothers, Henry and Robert, from Mrs Crawford in West Milton, Dorset, in 1906 [VWML HAM/3/18/4] and included in Frank Purslow’s selection Marrow Bones published by EFDS Publications in 1965. It’s a song that only pops up now and again in the various collections from Britain and North America, and I’ve stared at it in Marrow Bones for years without taking it further. What prompted me into action was hearing it from the lips of the current Dorset singer John Waltham, whose version has one crucial detail that differs from the normal set of words, because usually the bride asks to sleep with her mother. Suddenly a much clearer light shines on the whole story, which becomes one of the most exquisite tragedies.

You can head John Waltham’s own recording on Farewell to the Green Fields, released in 2003.

Andy Turner learned The Nobleman’s Wedding from Frank Purslow’s book Marrow Bones and sang it as the 18 March 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Jim Moray sang Another Man’s Wedding in 2016 on his CD Upcetera. He noted:

90% of us end up with the wrong person. And that’s what makes the jukebox spin.
– Willie Nelson

Learned from Nick Dow’s album A Poor Man’s Gift. Most of this version comes from Joe Holmes of Co. Antrim, but I suspect Nick altered it quite a bit. And I’ve altered it further.

Marisa Jack & Davy sang Nobleman’s Wedding on their 2016 EP March March. This video shows them at the Leigh Sailing Club during the Leigh Folk Festival on 24 June 2018:


Eddie Butcher sing Another Man’s Wedding

I was invited to another man’s wedding
All by a fair one that proved so unkind,
And aye as she thought of her old former lover
The thoughts of her darling still ran in her mind.

When dinner was over and all things were completed,
It fell each young man’s lot to sing a love song,
And it happened to fall on her old former lover
To sing those few verses it wunnae keep you long:

“Oh, many’s the lord was seven years from his lady,
And many’s the lord he never came back again,
But I was only one year away from my darling
When an unconstant lover to me she became.”

“Oh, how can you sit at another man’s table?
Or how can you drink of another man’s wine?
Or how can you lie in the arms of another?
You that was so long a true lover of mine.”

The bride she was seated at the head of the table,
And every word she remembered it well.
To bear it in mind this fair maid she was not able
And down at the groom’s feet she instantly fell.

“There is one request and I will ask you for no other,
The first and the last, love, perhaps it may be:
Only this one night to stay with my mother;
The rest of my time I will share it all with you.”

The request it was asked and just immediately granted,
Sighing and sobbing she went into her bed.
And early next morning, when the young groom awoken
He went into her chamber and found that she was dead.

He lifted her up from her soft and downy pillow,
He carried her out into the garden so green.
With sheets and fine pillows, oh, soon they did surround her
Still thinking that his young wife she might come to life again.

“Oh Sally, lovely Sally, when you and I were courting
You vowed and declared that you loved no one but me.
But them that depends upon fair maiden’s folly
Their love it will decay like the bark on the tree.

All around my hat I will wear a weeping willow,
All around my hat until death it comes to me.
And if anybody asks me why I wear the willow,
It is all for my true love that I never more will sea.

Sara Cleveland sings To Wear a Green Willow

Once I was invited to a nobleman’s wedding
By a false lover that proved so unkind.
It causes me now to wear a green willow,
It causes me now to bear a troubled mind.

Supper was over and everyone seated,
Every young man sang his true love a song.
Until it came to the bride’s own fond loverm
The song that he sang to the bride it belonged.

Saying, “How can you lie on another man’s pillow
As long as you have been a sweetheart of mine?
It causes me now to wear a green willow,
It causes me now to bear a troubled mind.”

The bride she sat at the head of the table,
Every word she remembered right well,
Until at last she could bear it no longer
And down on the floor at the groom’s feet she fell.

Saying, “There is one request that I ask as a favor,
As it is the first one, won’t you grant it to me?
That this first night I may spend with my mother,
The rest of my life I will spend it with thee.”

As it was the first one, it was truly granted,
Sighing and sobbing she went to her bed.
Early next morning the groom he arose
And went there to find that his Mary was dead.

“Oh Mary, dear Mary, you never have loved me
With a fond heart as I have loved you.
May this be a warning to all men and maidens
To never come between a bride and a groom.”

Daisy Chapman sings Down in the Valley

Down in the valley there was a fair wedding,
And oh, but the bride she proved to be unkind;
She proved to be unkind to her bygone lover,
Her bygone lover came in at the time.

Supper being over, all things over,
’Twas then proposed to sing the bride a song;
The song it was sung by the bygone lover,
And unto the bride the song it did belong.

“Many is the man that’s been seven years absent,
Many is the man that’s been seven years away;
But I hae been only three years absent,
And an untrue lover ye hae proved to be.

“How could ye lie in another man’s arms?
How could ye drink of another man’s wine?
How could ye lie in the arms of another,
After the promises you made tae me in mine?”

The bride being seated at the head of the table,
And oh, but the song she marked it well;
To bear up the company no longer was she able,
She turned to the bridegroom and thus to him did say.

“A favour, a favour, a favour I ask o’ thee,
Being the first favour I’ve asked from unto you;
Tae lie wi ma mither this ae nicht only,
And aye, aye and aifter I’ll aye lie wi you.”

The favour[?] was asked and the favour was granted,
With rolling and sighing she went off to bed;
But early, right early the very next morning,
This poor little damsel was found lying dead.

Surprising, surprising to all the young women,
To be so early cut down in bloom;
Tonight you’ll be walking, your sweethearts talking,
And early next morning be cauld in the tomb.

First I’ll put on a black coat o’ velvet,
And I shall wear it a short month or two;
Then I’ll put on the green and the yellow,
And aye, aye and aifter, the orange and the blue.

If anyone asks thee why I do wear this,
Why I do wear such a costly array;
Tell them the reason, the very plain reason,
It’s all because my true love lies cauld in the clay.

James McDermott sings The Nobleman’s Wedding

Once I was invited to a nobleman’s wedding,
It was all of a fair one that proved so unkind.
So now she is wed and she thinks herself happy
For this charming true lover still rolls in my mind.

After the wedding the guests were all ready,
Ah, each one was asked for to sing a love song.
And the first one to sing was her charming true lover
And the song that he sang was of days long gone by.

Then sighing and sobbing she rose from the table.
At the foot of her true love she down then did fall.
Saying, “Give me this night in the arms of my lover
And the rest of them all I will spend them with you.”
Then sighing and sobbing to her bed she did go.

And early next morning going in for to see her
He found that his true love was lying long dead.

“I knew, lovely Annie, you never did love me,
For your love and my love could never agree.
I knew, lovely Annie, you never did love me,
For this charming true lover still rolls in my mind.”

I separated the oak from the elm,
I separated the bark from the tree.
But I have separated two charming young lovers
And I hope there’ll be no-one to separate me.

Sheila Stewart sings The Nobleman’s Wedding

Oh, late last night I was asked to a wedding,
The wedding of a fair maid who proved to be unkind.
As she looked in the eyes of her new intended lover,
Thoughts of her old love run still through her mind.

Oh, supper was over and sermon was ended,
And every young man had to sing the bride a song;
Till it came to the turn of her new intended lover.
Thoughts of her old love run still through her mind.

“Oh, how can you sit at another man’s table?
How can you drink of another man’s wine?
And how can you lie in the arms of another
When oft-times, dear, oft-times you have lain in mine?”

Oh, sobbing and sighing, she ran to her bedroom,
Sobbing and sighing, she went to her bed,
And early next morning, when the bridegroom awakened,
Turning around, he found his bride was dead.

“Oh, Annie, dear Annie, I knew you never loved me,
My love and your love would never agree.
And I ken fine that I ta’en ye fae a better.
Oh, aye, a better than ever I could be.

“So I will put on my suit of deep mourning
Suit of deep mourning aye ain, twa an’ three.
I will put on my new wedding garments
To remind me, dear Annie, that you married me.”

The Nobleman’s Wedding

Yesterday evening I was invited to a wedding
’Twas of a fair girl that proved so unkind.
Although she had decided to wed with another
’Twas her former lover still run in her mind.

When supper was over and all things were ended
They all did conclude to give the bride a song.
The first that begun was a farmer, her old lover
And the song that he sang was no very long.

“Oh, how can you sit at another man’s table?
How can you drink of another man’s wine?
How can you lie on another man’s pillow?
When once you were a true lover of mine?”

“How can you sleep on another man’s bosom
Since you pretend that you love me so dear?
Now for your sweet sake I’ll wear the mournful willow
Now and for ever I’ll wear it my dear.”

The bride she was sitting at the head of the table,
Hearing these words she marked them right well.
It pierced her heart till she could no longer stand it
Down at the feet of the bridegroom she fell.

“Now I am going to ask of you one favour,
I hope that the same you will grant unto me:
’Tis all this long night let me lie with my mother
The rest of my life I will lie along with thee.”

The favour was granted and all things were ready
With sighing and crying they all went to bed.
’Twas early next morning this young man arose
When he went to her chamber he found she was dead.

He picked her up in his bosom so softly
He carried her into the garden again.
He covered her over with flowers so sweetly
Hoping to revive her, but all ’twas in vain.

All round my hat I will wear the mournful willow,
All round my hat for a twelvemonth or more.
But if I should find that it does not become me
Then I’ll leave it off for ever and evermore.