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Hind Horn

[ Roud 28 ; Child 17 ; G/D 5:1022 ; Ballad Index C017 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl sang the Child ballad Hind Horn in 1956 on his and A.L. Lloyd's Riverside anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (The Child Ballads) Volume I. Like most of his tracks from this series it was reissued in 2009 on his Topic anthology Ballads: Murder·Intrigue·Love·Discord. Kenneth S. Goldstein commented in the Riverside album's booklet:

This ballad is based on the various medieval metrical romances concerning the adventures of a legendary King Horn which date from the 13th century. The ballad concerns itself with only one incident of the many related in the romances. Hind Horn serves the King for seven years and has fallen in love with his daughter. The King is angry and sends Hind Horn to sea. The daughter has given young Horn a ring; as long as the stones keep their colour, she is true to him, but if they change hue, she has succumbed to another man. Hind Horn looks at the ring and finds it has turned pale. He makes for land and meets an old beggar who gives him the news that the King's daughter has married but will not go into the bridal bed until she hears of Hind Horn. Horn changes clothes and gear with the beggar and goes to the palace. The bride comes down to drink with the beggar and Hind Horn drops the ring into the glass. She questions him as to where he got the ring and Horn reveals his identity. The King's daughter is ready to give up her position to join him, but Hind Horn tells her he can maintain her as a lady.

The ballad is known widely in Scotland, but has not been found in England. It is extremely rare in America, several texts having been recovered from Canadians of Scottish ancestry.

The version MacColl sings, which implies, but never directly states, that the ring has been bestowed, is the “B” text from Greig and Keith [Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs]./p>

Bandoggs recorded Hind Horn with Tony Rose singing lead in 1978 for their eponymous album Bandoggs and Chris and Pete Coe returned to it in 2001 on her Backshift CD A Wiser Fool.

Maddy Prior sang Hind Horn in 1997 on her CD Flesh and Blood. This song was later included in her anthology Collections: A Very Best of 1995 to 2005. A live recording from the Maddy Prior, Family & Friends Christmas tour of 1999 was released on their CD Ballads and Candles. Maddy Prior commented in her original album's sleeve notes:

This is not a ballad I've heard sung before, but the motifs are familiar; the exchange of rings, the seven year absence, the return on the wedding day disguised as a beggar. According to Francis James Child in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads, the antecedents of the story go back to beyond the 14th Century to much longer romances of which the ballad is a mere extract. One version is set in the Crusades, and has more magical qualities to it, Saladin whisking him back to his homeland. The beginnings of our social structure date from this time and the long partings that continually occur in traditional songs may hold a memory of these expeditions, where men would return overdue, battle scarred, and unrecognisable, and in the absence of modern bureaucracy, some token was needed to establish identity. Little is made of how the women's hearts may have changed and they are invariably, if sometimes unconvincingly, overjoyed.

Brian Peters sang Hind Horn in 2001 on his CD Lines. He commented in his liner notes:

Hind Horn makes up for a disappointing lack of bloodshed with an admirable piece of cool from the hero which finally wins the day—most of us in Mr Horn's position would just have gatecrashed the wedding shouting drunken abuse and got arrested. The tune is half traditional, half made up.

Rachel Newton of The Furrow Collective sang Hind Horn on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting. She commented in their sleeve notes:

I was first struck by this song on hearing a great version on Chris Coe's album A Wiser Fool. There are many variants listed in Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, including one that mentions my home town of Edinburgh. I was drawn to the magic in the song and the thought of Hind Horn tearing back across the sea to reclaim Jean's love at the sight of the ring fading.

This video shows The Furrow Collective at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow on February 22, 2014:

Lyrics

Bandoggs sing Hind HornMaddy Prior sings Hind Horn

Young Hind Horn to the King is gone,
    Hey lililo and a ho lo la,
And he's fell in love with his daughter Jean,
    Hey down and a hey diddle downy.

Young Hind Horn to the King's is gone,
    Hey Lily and ho ho lan,
He fell in love with the King's daughter Jean,
    With a hey down, hey diddle downy.

She gave to him a golden ring
With three bright diamonds set therein.

She gave him a gay gold ring
With three bright diamonds glittering.

“When this ring grows pale and wan
It's then that you'll know my love is gone.”

“When this ring grows pale and blue
Then my love is lost to you.”

Now the King has sent him o'er the sea
For seven long years in a far country.

He hoisted his sails and went to sea,
Spent seven years in a far country.

One day his ring grew pale and wan
And he knew that she'd loved another man.

One day he's looked his ring upon,
It grew pale and it grew wan.

So he's left the sea for his own land
And it's there that he's met with a beggar man.

Young Hind Horn is come to land
There he met an old beggar man.

“What news, what news old man doth befall?”
“It's none save the wedding in the King's own hall.”

“What news, what news? Come tell to me.”
“No news but our queen's wedding day.”

“Will you give me your old brown cap?
And I'll give you my gold laced hat.”

“Cast off, cast off your beggar's weeds
And I'll give you my good grey steed.”

“Will you give me your begging weeds?
And I'll give you my good grey steed.”

The old beggar man goes dressed so fine
And young Hind Horn like an old beggar man.

Oh it's when he came to the King's own gate
He's sought there a drink for the bridegroom's sake.

When he came to the King's gate
He asked for drink and he asked for meat.

He asked for the sake of St Peter and Paul,
He asked for the sake of young Hind Horn.

The bride came tripping down the stair
With combs of red gold shining in her hair,

With a glass of red wine in her hand
To give to the poor old beggar man.

And the bride gave him a glass of wine
And when he's drunk he's dropped in the ring.

And he has drunk up all the wine
And into the cup he's dropped the ring.

“Oh got ye this by the sea or the land
Or took ye this from a dead man's hand?”

“Came ye this by sea or land
Or got ye't off a dead man's hand?”

“I got it neither by sea nor land
For you gave it to me with your own hand.”

“I got it not by sea or land
But I got it off your very own hand.”

“Oh, I'll cast off my gown of red
And along with thee I'll beg my bread.”

“Oh, you need not leave your bridal gown
For I'll make you the lady of many's the town.”

The bridegroom he comes down the stair
But neither bride nor beggar was there.

Her own bridegroom had her first wed
But young Hind Horn had her first to bed.

The bridegroom had her first to wed
But young Hind Horn had her first to bed.

Rachel Newton sings Hind Horn  

Young Hind Horn to the King has gone,
    Hey lililo hey lo la,
He's fell in love with the King's daughter Jean,
    And the bark and the broom they bloom so bonnie

The King has sent him over the sea
For seven long years in a far country.

So she gave to him a gay gold ring
With seven bright diamonds set therein.

“Oh, when this ring grows pale and wan,
It's then that you'll know that I love another man.”

One day his ring grew pale and wan,
It's then that he knew she loved another man.

So he left the sea for his own land
And there he met with an old beggar man.

“Old man, old man, what news does behold?”
“None but a wedding in the King's high hall.”

“Then lend to me your begging weeds,
Then I'll give to you my good grey steed.”

When he came to the King's high gates,
He begged a drink for the bridegroom's sake.

The bride gave to him a glass of wine,
And when he drank it he dropped in the ring.

“Got you this by the sea or land?
Or got you this from a dead man's hand?”

“I neither got it by the sea or land,
You gave it to me with your own fair hand.”

“Then I'll take off my gown of red,
Along with you I'll beg for my bread.”

“You need not leave your bridal gown,
I'll make you the lady of many's the town.”

Her own bridegroom might her have wed,
But Hind Horn had her first in the bed.