> Steeleye Span > Songs > Lanercost
[Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp]
This song was released in November 1985 as B-side of the Steeleye Span single Somewhere in London and in May 1986 in a different recording on Steeleye’s thirteenth LP, Back in Line. The single version has an instrumental ending as opposed to the a cappella album version and was reissued in 1999 on the CD A Rare Collection 1972-1996.
The LP sleeve notes comment:
Lanercost is a priory in the north of Cumbria close to the Scottish border. Edward I spent the last months of his life there directing a campaign against Robert the Bruce. Although very ill, he caught and hanged three of the Bruce’s four brothers but he died trying to lead an army north himself.
The priests go down to the river to fish for Friday’s meal
The King is brooding day and night
Black with hate, cursing fate
To be ill when the foe is in sight.
The priests they kneel in the chancel in solemn peaceful prayer
The King is laughing, grim and slow
Three brothers die, he hung them high
On a gibbet they died a cruel show.
The priests they crouch o’er their books and scratch away at history
The King he rises from his bed
Leads his men, rides again
But before he sees the border he is dead.
The priests they walk in procession with the coffin of state
The King he leaves his work undone
It is his fate, despite his hate
That his foe lives on to fight his son.