Barbara Allan – Child 84


This is a aboot a young lassie throwin a tantrim cos she thinks her lad’s ignored her fan they were oot for a drink we their pals.  In fairness tae her, they hid bin gaan thegither for seven year, so she wis probably scunnert waitin for the big day.

The story say’s the wye she treated him fan he wis naeweel wis cruel, but she wis affa sorry fan he deid, so maybe she jist didna realise fou ill he wis. In fact, she wis sae broken heirtit that she deid as weel.

This sang is sae auld that it wis menshind bi Samual Pepys in ees diary in 1666. It’s ane o the maist popular ballads in the English spikin wirild, and anither American professor, Bernard Bronson, collected 198 tunes for it. There’s lots o different versions, so I’ve picked oot my favrit verses, and changed a few wirds here an there tae mak the story clearer.


It fell aboot the Marimas Time
Fan the green leaves they were fa’in
That young John Graeme, fae the north countrie
Fell in love wi Barbara Allan
Fell in love wi Barbara Allan

He’s coortit her for seven lang years
till he could coort nae langer
For he fell sick and his hert wis sair
So he sent for his true lover
Aye he sent for his true lover

He sent his man doon through the toon
Tae the place far she wis dwellin
Sayin haste ye come tae my maisters side
Gin yer name be’s Barbara Allan
Gin yer name be’s Barbara Allan 

Sae hooly hooly she’s raised up
And sae slowly she’s gaed wi him
And fan she’s pou’d the curtains roond
She said young man I think yer dyin
Said young man I think yer dyin 

Aye surely I am dyin love
but one kiss fae you micht cure me
One kiss fae me that will niver be
Though yer herts bleed wis a-spillin
Though yer herts bleed wis a-spillin 

For mind ye no young man she said
Fan we sat in yonder tavern
Ye gart the healths gae roond an roon
But ye forgot yer Barbara Allan
Ye forgot yer Barbara Allan 

O look ye doon tae my bed fit
And it’s there ye’ll find a token
A china vase that’s ful o tears
Gae that tae Barbara Allan
Gae that tae Barbara Allan

Then he’s turned his face untae the waa
For death wis wi him dealin
And he’s bid farewell tae aa his freens
And adieu tae Barbara Allan
And adieu tae Barbara Allan 

Well she hid scarcely walked a mile
Fan she heard the deid bell tollin
And every strike, it seemed tae sae
Hard-herted Barbara Allan
Hard-herted Barbara Allan

O mither, mither maak my bed
For I am broken herted
For young John Graeme his died for me
But we winna lang be pairted
No we winna lang be pairted 

The pair were laid in yon kirk-yaird
Aye she wis lain aside him
And fae her hert there grew a rose
And fae his hert a briar
And fae his hert a briar 

They grew up tae the bell tower tap
Till they could grouw nae higher
And there they’ve made a lovers knot
The rose among the briar
The rose among the briar


Ballad: Barbara Allan (Child 84)
Singer:  Iona Fyfe   



The tune gaen here wis collectit by Gavin Greig in New Deer, fae a wummin caed Mrs Cruickshank o Creciehill.  In Professor Bronson’s book, it’s number 127 oot o the 198 tunes he found for this ballad, fae a ower Britain and North America.

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