This is an early 17th century song in Scots, based on an earlier English version called "Three Ravens." The English version has a self-sacrificing doe (aka the knight's pregnant wife) and loyal animals and true love and stuff, while this Scottish version has a knight who has been killed by his lady's new lover, abandoned by his animals, and is now being eaten by some ravens. Obviously this is the better story.
Some of the harmonies are my creation, but I have tried to stay true to the several variations of the tune out there, which weave together quite nicely (as our choir found when we all tried to sing it without first checking that we all knew the same tune).
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto the ither say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"
"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And nane do ken that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."
"His hound is tae the huntin gane,
His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady's tain anither mate,
So we may mak oor dinner swate."
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair
We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."
"Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane;
Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair."
released May 5, 2015
Track image is Arthur Rackham's illustration of 'The Twa Corbies' for "Some British Ballads," published 1919. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
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