False Bride, The (The Week Before Easter; I Once Loved a Lass)

DESCRIPTION: The singer reports that the woman he once loved is going to be wed to another. He mopes around in various ways -- e.g. looking for flowers out of season. His friends fail to lift his spirits. He declares his intent to die in hopes of forgetting her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1675 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(83a)); also printed in the reign of James II (1685-1688)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The singer reports that the woman he once loved is going to be wed to another. He mopes around in various ways -- e.g. looking for flowers out of season, but goes to the wedding. His friends fail to lift his spirits. (In a toast or an aside to the groom, the singer lets the groom know that he has often lain with the bride, so that for the groom she is a pair of "old shoes.") The singer declares his intent to die in hopes of forgetting her.
KEYWORDS: love infidelity courting marriage death wedding lyric
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber),England(South,Lond)) Ireland Canada(Newf,Ont) Australia
REFERENCES (19 citations):
Meredith/Anderson-FolkSongsOfAustralia, pp. 187-188, "I Think by This Time He's Forgot Her" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 152, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #24, p. 1, "The False Bride" (1 text plus 1 fragment)
Greig/Duncan6 1198, "The False Bride" (20 texts plus a single verse on p. 568, 17 tunes)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, p. 175, "It Wasna My Fortune to Get Her" (1 text)
Porter/Gower-Jeannie-Robertson-EmergentSingerTransformativeVoice #72, p. 244-245, "She's Only My Auld Shoes (The False Bride)" (1 text, 1 tune)
OLochlainn-IrishStreetBallads 86, "The Lambs on the Green Hills" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 441-442, "The False Maiden" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 31, "The False Bride" (2 texts, 3 tunes)
Fowke-TraditionalSingersAndSongsFromOntario 44, "I Once Loved a Lass" (1 text, 1 tune, from LaRena (Mrs. Gordon) Clark, which begins with verses probably from "The False Bride (The Week Before Easter; I Once Loved a Lass," continues with stanzas from "Green Grows the Laurel (Green Grow the Lilacs)," then has a "My love is like a dewdrop" stanza often found in "Farewell He," and includes several other lyrics that might have floated in)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, p. 37, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-EnglishCountrySongbook, #89, "Three Weeks Before Easter" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 47, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 400, "I Courted a Bonny Lass" (1 text)
OShaughnessy-YellowbellyBalladsPart1 14, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
Copper-ASongForEverySeason, pp. 236-237, "A Week Before Easter" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #56, "A Week Before Easter" (1 text, 1 tune)
Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex, ZN2765, "A week before Easter"; ZN2766, "The week before Easter"
DT 848, FLSEBRDE FLSEBRD2* FLSEBRD3* FLSEBRD4 FLSEBRD5* FLSEBRD6* FLSEBRD7* FLSEBRD8

Roud #154
RECORDINGS:
Harry Burgess, "A Week Before Easter" (on Voice15)
Ollie Conway, "The Lambs In the Green Hills" (on IROConway01)
Bob Copper, "The False Bride" (on FSB01)
Patsy Judge, "The Forest Was Covered In Bushes" (on ITMA/CapeShoreNL)
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, "I Loved a Lass" (on SCMacCollSeeger01)
Sarah Makem, "I Courted a Wee Girl" (on Voice01)
Patrick Rossiter, "The False Maiden" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Lucy Stewart, "The False Bride" (on FSBFTX15)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(83a), "The Forlorn Lover" ("A week before Easter, the dayes long and clear"), F. Coles (London), 1663-1674; also Douce Ballads 3(32a), "The Forlorn Lover"
NLScotland, R.B.m.143(128), "It Was Not My Fortune To Get Her," Poet's Box (Dundee), c. 1890

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "My Bonny Brown Jane"
cf. "If I Were a Fisher" (floating verses)
cf. "Drei Wochen vor Oschrdren (Three Weeks before Easter)" (lyrics, general feeling)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Forlorn Lover
I Ainse Loved a Lass
I Loved a Lass
The Week Before Easter
Three Weeks Before Easter
Six Weeks Before Easter
The Forsaken Bridegroom
My Bonnie Bride
The Forsaken Lover
NOTES [267 words]: Some versions (for example, "I Loved A Lass" on SCMacCollSeeger01) include a verse close to Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 318, "A man in the wilderness asked me": "A man in the wilderness asked me, How many strawberries grow in the sea? I answered him, as I thought good, As many as red herrings grow in the wood" (earliest date in Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes is 1716). [Also in Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #142, p. 114. - RBW]
Is it significant that this verse is not in any of the printed versions that I consulted: Peacock, Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland, Bodleian broadsides or Greig Folk-Song of the North-East 24? - BS
Verses of this type do show up in folktales, however. The "strawberries/blackberries in the sea" stanza, for instance, occurs in the tale of "The Man in the Wilderness," which is found on pp. 404-405 of volume A.1 of 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). There are two other verses of the sort in that narrative.
The Bodleian Douce broadside appears to be the one listed in the Stationer's Register for March 1, 1675. Hyder E. Rollins, An Analytical Index to the Ballad-Entries (1557-1709) In the Register of the Company of Stationers of London, 1924 (I use the 1967 Tradition Press reprint with a new Foreword by Leslie Shepard), #907, p. 83. has this entry: "forlorne lover, The (Mch. 1, 1675, ii, 499) [Beg. 'A Week before Easter the day's long and clear,' R[oxburghe] B[allads] VI, 233." - RBW
Last updated in version 5.3
File: K152

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