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Chevy Chase

[ Roud 223 ; Child 162 ; Ballad Index C162 ; trad.]

Gordeanna McCulloch sang a very short Chevy Chase, accompanied by Lowland pipes, on her 1978 Topic album with The Clutha, Sheath and Knife. She commented in her sleeve notes:

This shortened form of the ancient ballad (Child number 162) is set here to a traditional variant of the tune preserved for several hundred years in the repertoire of Northumbrian pipers. History is vague as to the actual battle described in the ballad, but The Complaynt of Scotland published circa 1550 mentions the song as being sung by shepherds.

Lyrics

Grodeanna McCulloch sings Chevy Chase

Earl Percy of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three simmer's days to take.

These tidings to Earl Douglas came,
In Scotland where he lay.
“By my faith,” the doughty Douglas cried,
“I will stop him if I may.”

Earl Percy out of Bamborough came
And brought a great army,
With fifteen hundred archers bold,
Were chosen from shires three.

The English archers bent their bows,
Their aim it was full true.
At the first flight of shafts they sent
Full fourscore Scots they slew.

This battle began in Cheviot
An hour before the noon
And when the evensong bell was rung,
The battle was not half done.

They went their way, on either side,
By the light of stars and moon,
And many had no strength to stand
The Cheviot Hills abune.