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True Lovers: The King's Command Must Be Obeyed / High Germany

[ Roud 1445 ; Ballad Index ReCi064 ; Bodleian Roud 1445 ; trad.]

Tony Rose found True Lovers in the Folk Song Journals and recorded it for his second album, Under the Greenwood Tree. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

From the evidence of many broadsides there seem to be two separate songs both popularly called High Germany. True Lovers is the less well-known of the two. The tune used here was collected in Devon, and is clearly a variant of The Cuckoo. If the song has a weakness, it is the last verse which its improbably romantic ending.

Danny Spooner sang High Germany on his 2013 CD Gorgeous, Game Girls. He noted:

I learnt this as a lad from Pa Johnson whose family I lived with up north at the end of World War II. A version appears in Roy Palmer's Rambling Soldier (Penguin 1977). I later heard a recording of it made by Percy Grainger which proved the value of the recording machine over the pad and pencil method of collecting. Note in the second and third verses how the third line extends.

Lyrics

Tony Rose sings True Lovers

Oh abroad as I was walking, I was walking all alone,
When I heard a couple talking as they walked all alone.
Said the young one to the fair one: “Bonnie lass I must away,
For the king he has commanded us and his orders I must obey.”

“Oh 'tis not what you promised me when first you did me beguile:
For you promised you would marry me if you got me with child.
So it's do not forsake but pity on me take, for great is my woe,
And through France, Spain and even Ireland, it's along with you I'll go.”

“Oh those long and the weary travellings, love, will cause you for to weep,
And the hills and the lofty mountains they will blister your tender feet.
And besides, you will not yield to lie out in the field with me the whole night long,
And your parents would be angry if along with me you should come.”

“Oh my friends I do not value and my foes, oh I do not fear,
For along with my jolly soldier boy I will ramble far and near.
Neither gold nor man shall deceive me but along with you I'll go
For to fight the French and the Spaniards or any other daring foe.”

“Well, since you prove so venturesome as to venture your sweet life,
First of all I will marry you and make you my lawful wife.
And if anyone shall offend you, I'll attend you, that you'll see,
And you'll hear the drums and the trumpet sound in the wars of High Germany.”

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Garry Gillard for transcribing the lyrics