Yowe Lamb, The (Ca' the Yowes; Lovely Molly)
DESCRIPTION: Molly agrees to marry Willie if her father consents. Willie asks the father for a "yowe lamb" to start a flock. Her father consents and tells Willie to "choose a yowe lamb." Willie chooses Molly. Her father is upset by the trick, but allows the match
EARLIEST DATE: 1899 (Ford); the Burns version is #264 in the _Scots Musical Museum_
KEYWORDS: love marriage father trick
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Kennedy 124, "Ca the Yowes to the Knowes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Song, p. 466, "Ca' the Yowes" (1 text)
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 187-188, "Lovely Molly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig #50, pp. 1-2, "Lovely Mallie" (2 texts)
GreigDuncan5 1014, "Ca' the Yowes to the Knowes" (7 texts, 4 tunes)
SHenry H175, p. 470, "The Yowe Lamb" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 85, "Lovely Molly" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Creighton-Maritime, p. 46, "Ca' the Ewes Unto the Knowes" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: James Johnson, Editor, _The Scots Musical Museum_ [1853 edition], volume III, #264, p. 273, "Ca' the ewes to the knowes" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "The Waukin' o' the Claes" (tune, per GreigDuncan5)
NOTES: This is apparently the original of the Burns song "Ca' the Ewes to the Knowes," but he changed it so substantially that they must be considered separate songs, and the reader must be careful to distinguish. - RBW
And despite the title, Kennedy's version really is "The Yowe Lamb." - PJS
Greig comments on the degree to which his versions differ. "Variation in fact is inevitable; but when it proceeds very far the operation of ordinary and recognized principles will hardly account for it, and we are driven to surmise that there are in such cases special circumstances connected with the origin and history of the song or ballad which if known would greatly help to account for the situation." The versions share two verses and a few other lines so the versions do not seem so different to me:
Mallie, on the way to meeting her shepherd father, meets Jackie. He comments that they would not be able to talk if her father were present. They go to her father. Jackie asks her father for "a ewe lamb to raise a new stock, o' the best may she be." Father says Jackie is "Freely as welcome as any other man" to choose the best. He takes Mallie's hand. Father, commenting on his foolishness "to sell my only daughter in place of a lamb; But since I have said it, then so let it be."
Johnnie meets Jeannie and offers her ribbons, rings, a silk mantle, and other fine things, if she'd go away with him. She answers that he can keep his presents; she'd go with him but he should ask her father's goodwishes and tell her what her father says. He asks her father to "grant me a ewe lamb for to raise a new stock." Her father agrees. Johnnie goes to Jeannie's chamber "and in spite of a father he's ta'en her away." "'Pox be on you, Johnnie, for ye hae me beguiled, Ye sought but ae ewe-lamb, and ye've taken my child; But since I once said it, e'en so let it be."
Greig: "It may be pointed out in passing how persistently editors of Scottish Song treat 'ca' in this and similar phrases as if it were simply the vernacular form of 'call.' It is, however, a quite different word, and means, as every Scotchman knows, 'drive.'"
Whitlaw-Song also has the Burns version (Whitelaw-Song, pp. 466-467, "Ca' the Yowes"). - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.