Hind Horn [Child 17]

DESCRIPTION: Jean gives Hind Horn a ring that will tell him if her love remains true. When the ring fades, he sets out for court disguised as a beggar. He shows her the ring, and her love returns. "The bridegroom has wedded the bride but... Hind Horn took her to bed"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1825 (Motherwell)
KEYWORDS: magic love wedding
FOUND IN: US(Ap,NE,So) Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)
REFERENCES (42 citations):
Child 17, "Hind Horn" (9 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #23}
Bronson 17, "Hind Horn" (23 versions plus 2 in addenda)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 17, "Hind Horn" (6 version: #2, #4, #4,1, #21, #22, #23)
Buchan/Moreira-TheGlenbuchatBallads, pp. 59-63, "Hyn Horn" (1 text)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #80, pp. 1-2, "Hynd Horn"; #172, p. 1, "Hynd Horn" (3 texts)
Greig/Duncan5 1022, "Hynd Horn" (17 texts plus 2 fragments on pp. 621-622, 13 tunes)
Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth-BritishBalladsFromMaine pp. 73-80, "Hind Horn" (1 text (with two variant forms) plus a fragment, 2 tunes); pp. 479-481 (additional notes and fragments) {Bronson's #4, #5}
Flanders/Olney-BalladsMigrantInNewEngland, pp. 47-48, "Hind Horn" (1 short text, properly titled "The Jolly Beggar," which might be "Hind Horn" [Child #17] or "The Jolly Beggar" [Child #279] or a mix; 1 tune) {Bronson's #18}
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland1, pp. 223-225, "Hind Horn" (1 short text, properly titled "The Jolly Beggar," which might be "Hind Horn" [Child #17] or "The Jolly Beggar" [Child #279] or a mix; 1 tune) {Bronson's #18}
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 22-23, "In Scotland Town Where I Was Born" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 9, "I Gave My Love a Gay Gold Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 11-17, "Hind Horn" (3 texts plus 2 fragment, 3 tunes) {C=Bronson's #17, E=#22}
Creighton-MaritimeFolkSongs, p. 5, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 5, "The Beggarman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #21}
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 4, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #2}
Ives-DriveDullCareAway-PrinceEdwardIsland, pp. 72-73,246,252, "The Old Beggar Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-21FolksongsFromPrinceEdwardIsland, pp. 19-22,83, "The Old Beggar Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson-SongsOfMiramichi 55, "The Old Beggar Man (Hind Horn)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke-TraditionalSingersAndSongsFromOntario 32, "The Old Beggar Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 96-100, "Hind Horn" (2 texts)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 35, "Hynd Horn" (1 text)
Niles-BalladBookOfJohnJacobNiles 12, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a single stanza which might be this ballad -- but could be something else)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 260-262+357, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 44, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads, pp. 134-136, "Hynd Horn" (1 text)
Morgan-MedievalBallads-ChivalryRomanceAndEverydayLife, pp. 57-59, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
HarvardClassics-EnglishPoetryChaucerToGray, pp. 59-61, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Edith Fowke, "American Cowboy and Western Pioneer Songs in Canada" in The Western Folklore, Vol. XXI, No. 4 (Oct 1962 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 249-250, ["The Cowboy's Wedding Ring"] ("A cowboy with his sweetheart stood beneath a starlit sky") (1 text)
Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume A.2, p. 407, "Hind Horn" (a prose summary)
RELATED: Versions of the Romance "King Horn" --
Jennifer Fellows, _Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance_, Everyman/J. M. Dent, 1993, pp. 1-41, "King Horn" (1 text, of 1532 lines, based mainly on Cambridge MS. Gg. 4.27.2)
Ronald B. Herzman, Graham Drake, and Eve Salisbury, editors, _Four Romances of England: King Horn, Havelock the Dane, Bevis of Hampton, Athelston_, TEAMS (Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages), Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 1999), pp. 17-56, "King Horn" (1 text, of 1545 lines, based mostly on Cambridge MS. Gg. 4.27.2)
Donald B. Sands, editor, _Middle English Verse Romances_, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1966, pp. 15-54, "King Horn" (1 text, of 1540 lines, somewhat cleaned up, based mostly on Cambridge MS. Gg. 4.27.2)
J. Rawson Lumby, editor (1866), revised (1901) by George H. McKnight, _King Horn, Flori3 and Blauncheflur, The Assumption of our Lady_, Early English Text Society/Oxford University Press, 1901 (reprinted 1962), pp. 1-69, "King Horn" (showing the three manuscripts in parallel)
Walter Hoyt French and Charles Brockway Hale, _Middle English Metrical Romances_, Prentice-Hall, 1930, pp. 25-70, "King Horn" (1 text, nominally of 1530 lines, based mostly on Cambridge MS. Gg. 4.27.2)
John Edwin Wells, _A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050-1400_, 1916 (references are to the 1930 fifth printing with three supplements), pp. 8-11, "(King Horn)" and "Horne Childe and Maid Rimhild" (prose summaries of the two romances)
Brown/Robbins-IndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse, #166
DigitalIndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse #312
MANUSCRIPT: {MSAuchinleck}, The Auchinleck Manuscript, Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland MS. Advocates 19.2.1, folios 317v-323v "Horn childe and maiden rimnild"
MANUSCRIPT: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Laud misc. 108 (Bodleian 1486), folio 219
MANUSCRIPT: Cambridge, University Library MS. Gg.4.27 (Part 2), folio 11

Roud #28
Edmund Doucette, "The Old Beggar Man" (on MREIves01)
cf. "The Kitchie-Boy" [Child 252] (lyrics)
cf. "The Bird's Courting Song (The Hawk and the Crow; Leatherwing Bat)" (tune)
The Bird's Courting Song (The Hawk and the Crow; Leatherwing Bat) (File: K295)
The Pale Ring
The Jeweled Ring
The Beggar at the Wedding
NOTES [2624 words]: Fowke-TraditionalSingersAndSongsFromOntario: "A North American adaptation of the "Hind Horn" story has turned up in Ontario as "The Cowboy's Wedding Ring": the text appears in Western Folklore."
In that text the parting sweethearts promise to be true. Jack gives Nell half of a broken ring: each keeps the half of the ring engraved with the other's name. Jack shows up at Nell's wedding three years later and joins with her father to "drink a toast to this fair young man and his lovely bride." Jack drops his half of the ring into Nell's glass. When she sees Jack's half of the ring she says "It's you, my cowboy sweetheart back, and my Jack I'll wed tonight."
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads is from William Motherwell, Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern (Glasgow: John Wylie, 1827 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), pp. 36-43, "Hynd Horn." Motherwell says, "An imperfect copy of this very old Ballad appeared in 'Select Scotish Songs, Ancient and Modern,' edited by Mr Cromek [included by Child as 17.D]; but that gentleman seems not to have been aware of the jewel he had picked up, as it is passed over without a single remark. We have been fortunate enough to recover two copies from recitation, which, joined to the stanzas preserved by Mr Cromek, have enabled us to present it to the public in its present complete state." - BS
For Bronson's proposed relationship between this song and "The Whummil Bore" [Child 27], see the entry on the latter piece.
Briggs describes the tale of "Two Irish Lads in Canada"(found in volume A.2., pp. 499-501) as a "modern version" of "Hind Horn."
Literary historians have connected this ballad with the thirteenth century romance "King Horn" (who lost his kingdom to Saracens, then won it and his sweetheart back after heroic adventures) -- but if so, there has been a lot of folk processing along the way.
Child mentions the romance, but notes that the ballad contains only the "catastrophe" of the written epic; Wells, p. 12, considers the ballad to be taken from the "banquet scene of Horne Childe" (the other Horn romance).
The Horn legend found in "King Horn" appears in various forms. CHEL1, p. 304, declares it "a viking story plainly adapted to romantic ends." "King Horn" itself is listed as "the earliest of the extant romances in [Middle English]" (Dickins/Wilson p. 29). Similarly Sands, p. 15, "With the tale of Horn and the fair Rymenhild we have the earliest extant English romance. This distinction it can claim; other distinctions, especially technical and esthetic, are hard to come by. Yet Horn possesses considerably more interest than a good number of competent pieces: it can be regarded as the prototypic Middle English romance." Bennett/Gray, p. 135, say "The oldest extant romance is probably King Horn: oldest both in its manuscript form and in date of composition." This probably explains why it is so often cited.
According to Herzman/Drake/Salisbury, p. 11, it used to be dated c. 1225, but recent studies make it later. But even if the more modern date of perhaps c. 1280 is accepted, that still gives it pride of date. There even seems to be a reference to it in another romance; according to Bennett/Gray, p. 125, an item called the "'Laud' Troy Book" mentions near the end
Of Havelok, Horne and of Wade,
In romaunces that of hem ben made.
(Many other romance heroes are also mentioned, e.g. Bevis [of Hampton], Guy [of Warwick], Sir Gawain, Tristan, Percival, and Roland, so the references in this line are presumably to "Havelock the Dane," "King Horn," and an unknown epic of "Wade." Wade seems to have been an important character in Old English and Germanic folklore, according to Wilson, pp. 16-19, but all that survives is scattered references.)
The complaints about the form of "King Horn" may arise from its antiquity. Derek Pearsall, on p. 26 of Brewer, suggests, "The couplet of Horn is a unique non-alliterative derivative from the alliterative first-half-line, blended with the French trimeter to give a standard line of three stresses, though two and four occur in special contexts. This development of alliterative verse is already well advanced in Laȝamon's Brut, and Horn thus stands midway between Laȝamon, the debt to whom is explicit in a number of borrowed phrases, and the later couplet.... Where they modify the metre of the oldest text, the two later manuscripts of Horn (Laud 108 and Harley 2253) always move toward four-stress regularity, but the clipped, short-breathed lines of the Cambridge Horn, with their sparse, abrupt syntax and lack of articulation, are the perfect complement of the narrative's literary quality and may be considered a deliberate choice."
CHEL1, pp. 287-288, declares, "King Horn is singular in its verse, an example of one stage in the development of modern English metres. It is closely related in prosody to Layamon's Brut, and might be described as carrying through consistently the rhyming couplet, which Layamon interchanges with blank lines. The verse is not governed by the octosyllabic law; it is not of Latin origin; it has a strange resemblance to the verse of Otfried in Old High German and to the accidental riming passages in Old English.... There is no other romance in this antique sort of verse."
Alternately, it may simply be massively corrupt; so apparently Rosamund Allen.
Anne Scott, on p. 39 of Brewer, reports that "The short, alliterating couplets in the poem which occur in the Cambridge and Oxford versions and its terse, rhythmical style give the poem a songlike quality and have led both early and later critics to liken the poem to a ballad." It is not, however, anything like an English ballad, and would not fit a standard tune.
Mehl, p. 49, makes the observation that although it is found in three early manuscripts, "The later collections that contain a greater number of romances have not included it." This implies that its early popularity faded -- or that it went into the hands of the folk at a very early date, which would explain why the ballad is so unlike the romance. Fellows, p. xi, quotes Rosamund Allen to the effect that the three manuscripts are a literary miscellany from Herefordshire, probably made by am amateur copyist; part of a mixed collection of religious and secular narratives; and an addition to a collection of saints' lives -- suggesting that perhaps the story was considered to go with the tales of saints.
Wilson, p. 27, suggests that the story of Horn is based on an actual historical event, but if so, it has been lost from actual history. CHEL1, p 287 elaborates: "it has been suggested that the original Horn was Horm, a Danish viking of the ninth century who fought for the Irish king Cearbhall, as Horn helped King Thurston in Ireland against the Payns, i.e. the heathen invaders with their giant champion. Also, it is believed that Thurston, in the romance, may be derived from the Norwegian leader Thorstein the Red, who married a grand-daughter of Cearbhall. But, whatever the obscure turh may be, the general fact that Horn's wanderings and adventures are placed in scenery and conditions resembling those of the ninth and tenth centuries in the relations between Britain and Ireland." Maybe -- but none of that has gone into the ballad.
The romance of "King Horn" exists in three manuscripts (Dickens/Wilson, p. 30; Sands, p15): Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27.II (late XIII century, according to Dickens/Wilson; c. 1250 according to Sands), Bodleian Laud Misc. 108 (early XIV century, according to Dickens/Wilson), and B.M. Harley 2253 (written by a scribe who can be shown to have been active in 1314 and to still have been working until at least 1346, baesd on his other works; Fein, p. 8), the latter the famous source of the "Harley Lyrics." The Cambridge manuscript is, however, considered by Sands to be the best as well as the oldest copy; so too Fein, p. 6 (Dickens/Wilson prefer Harley). The original composition is dated c. 1225 based on the language; the dialect seems to place it in the south or the midlands (Sands p. 15).
The legend also appears in a French epic, "Horn et Rimel," and there is a second English version, probably of the fourteenth century, called "Horne Childe" (Dickins/Wilson, p. 29) or "Horne Childe and Maiden Rimnild" (Mehl, p. 48). Benet, p. 516, says that "Horne Childe" is "generally called The Geste of King Horn. The nominal author is a certain Mestre Thomas." (However, Bennett/Gray, p. 135, argue that "the later and longer Anglo-Norman romance of Horn by one Thomas is clearly related to [i.e. derived from] some version of this poem." (This point is, naturally, disputed.) What is certain is that "Horne Childe" is a tail rhyme romance (Mehl, p. 52), and as far as I know no tail rhyme romance has ever been clearly linked to a traditional song. In any case, the general feeling is that "Horne Childe" is not as well constructed as "King Horn," even if it is better poetry. For a bibliography of works on "Horne Childe," see Rice, p. 295, who calls it "Horn Child." It is, interestingly, one of the shortest bibliographies in her book; "Horn Child" does not seem to have been much valued by scholars. The much fuller bibliography for King Horn occupies pp. 307-314, which lists 18 editions although many of them are not really publicly available.
Sands, p. 15, makes the interesting note that "King Horn" "lacks chivalrous ideas" -- a hint, perhaps, of folk rather than courtly origin. Keen, p. 131, observes that it shows some aspects typical of tales of the period: "Medieval authors had a passion for disguises; the irony of the situation in which enemies or livers met incognito seems to have endlessly delighted them. So one will find Hind Horn coming to the presence of his beloved Rimenheld in the guise of an old woman... and Ippomedon tourneying before his lady in a series of disguises." Similarly Herzman/Drake/Salisbury, p. 13: "The story contains unexplained actions and situations that can only be explained beause the poet is referring, sometimes incompletely, to folk tale sources. One 'folk-tale non sequitur' Barron notes is that Horn gives no particular reason for hiding his true identity. And John Speirs sees misty connections to mythology in the symbol of Horn himself -- to the Horn of Plenty and ultimately the Holy Grail."
According to Garnett/Gosse, volume i, p. 115, "King Horn is another romance with a Scnadinavian groundwork going back to the time of the expeditions of the Danish Vikings before their conversion to Christianity." CHEL1, p. 218, also lists the legend as being of Danish origin, naturalized in the period around 1200. Dickens/Wilson, pp. 29-30, amplify this: "the story is usually supposed to be based on events which took place during the Anglo-Saxon conquest or the Viking raids. This is plausible enough, but any basis in fact that there might originally have been can now distinguished from the mass of folk-tale with which it has been overlaid, nor is it possible to localize the events." We might conjecture, however, that the "Suddene" of the poem (although often interpreted as some such place as the Isle of Wight, according to Sands, p. 16) is in fact Sweden. (Which in turn hints that Horn might be the Scyld Scefing of Beowulf, but that has little to do with the matter of this ballad.)
GArnett-IHearAmericaSinging and Gosse, p. 115, add that the piece has "no great poetical merit." Herzman/Drake/Salisbury, p. 12, suggest that it is unusually well plotted, but AS POETRY it isn't much. In support of this we might note that the meter is so irregular that scholars have not even managed to agree on whether it's supposed to be trochaic or iambic! Bennett/Gray, p. 135, have a possible explanation for this, describing the piece as consisting of "just over 1,500 short and rather jerky lines in a metre probably deriving -- like Layamon's Brut -- from the old English alliterative measure."
Sands, p. 16, explains this on the grounds that it is "a transitional piece. It contains the rhymed couplet introduced from the French, but does not lengthen the two- and three-stress lines taken over from the Old English half-line into the usual tetrameter line of later romances. It hovers between the older trochaic rhythm and the coming iambic and never really favors one over the other, a feature perhaps which prompts Kane to remark that the prosody 'sometimes looks and possibly is incompetent.'" - RBW
The magic stones of the ring in "King Horn" make the wearer invulnerable; Horn is to look at the ring just to remind him of her (French/Hale, "King Horn," ll. 541-576) He happens to return to Westernesse after seven years when "word bigan to springe Of Rymenhilde weddinge" (French/Hale, ll. 1007-1018). The rest of the story, including the return of the ring in the wine horn (French/Hale, ll. 1159-1170) agrees well enough with the plot, for example, of Child 17B.
The magic stones of the ring in "Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild" have the property of changing color, as in the ballad, when Rimnild changes her mind or loses her maidenhead (Mills, ll. 565-576)) It happens that when seven years have passed that Horn notices that the stones have changed color (Mills, ll. 836-840). Here too, the ring is returned in a wine cup (Mills, ll. 994-996).
Child notes the similarities in plot between the ballad and "Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild." However, he denies that "the special approximations of the ballads to the romance of Horn Child oblige us to conclude that these, or any of them, are derived from that poem." He goes on further to say "It is often assumed, without a misgiving, that oral tradition must needs be younger than anything that was committed to writing some centuries ago; but this requires in each case to be made out; there is certainly no antecedent probability of that kind." - BS
Several other ballads also derive loosely or from Middle English romance, or from the legends that underlie it, examples being:
* "King Orfeo" [Child 19], from "Sir Orfeo" (3 MSS., including the Auchinlek MS, which also contains "Floris and Blancheflour")
* "The Marriage of Sir Gawain" [Child 31], from "The Weddynge of Sir Gawe and Dame Ragnell" (1 defective MS, Bodleian MS Rawlinson C 86)
* "Blancheflour and Jellyflorice" [Child 300], from "Floris and Blancheflour" (4 MSS, including Cambridge Gg.4.27.2, which also contains "King Horn," and the Auchinlek MS, which also contains "Sir Orfeo")
Of these ballads from romances, this is the only one that really seems to have gone solidly into tradition ("Sir Orfeo" came from tradition, but in circumstances that make a minstrel origin a strong possibility).
Child has a very extensive discussion of the relationship between this ballad and the literary romances.
Incidentally, it appears that some of the language of "King Horn" influenced J. R. R. Tolkien. Not surprising; he lectured on the text of the romance at Oxford in 1927 (ScullHammond, p. 139). I have not yet found any traces of what he said -- which is singularly unfortunate, given that he knew both the romances and the folklore of ballads so well; he might well have had much to say about the piece. TolkienLetters, p. 361, says that Tolkien used "Westerness" as a translation of "Numinor," which he declared was "known to [him] only in MS. C [the Cambridge manuscript] of King Horn. (Line 161 in Sands (p. 21) and Herzman/Drake/Salisbury (p. 21); line 171 in Lumby (p. 8), which shows that the other two (inferior) manuscripts of the romance read "westnesse." - RBW
Greig: "The tune to which 'Hynd Horn' is sung seems to be the original form of 'Logan Braes,' and is associated with many other songs and ballads. As far as my records show, it is the most common folk-tune we have." - BS
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