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Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough

DigiTrad:
MISTLETOE BOUGH


Related thread:
Mistletoe bough, recording. (28)


GUEST,Mike Bunce 30 Mar 00 - 08:28 AM
Lanfranc 30 Mar 00 - 06:10 PM
Jim Dixon 17 Jul 15 - 11:19 PM
Jim Dixon 17 Jul 15 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,padgett 18 Jul 15 - 04:16 AM
Joe Offer 29 Sep 18 - 09:19 PM
Joe Offer 29 Sep 18 - 09:22 PM
Joe Offer 29 Sep 18 - 09:58 PM
GUEST,Henry Piper (of Ottery) 30 Sep 18 - 06:18 AM
The Sandman 30 Sep 18 - 07:23 AM
Reinhard 30 Sep 18 - 09:07 AM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 18 - 02:42 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 18 - 02:52 PM
Tradsinger 01 Oct 18 - 05:17 PM
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Subject: Mistletoe Belle
From: GUEST,Mike Bunce
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 08:28 AM

I believe to be a Hampshire(UK) song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistletoe Belle
From: Lanfranc
Date: 30 Mar 00 - 06:10 PM

If you mean "The Mistletoe Bough", about a game of hide and seek that goes tragically wrong, it's in the Digitrad - search for Mistletoe Bough.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MISTLETOE BOUGH (Bayly/Bishop)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Jul 15 - 11:19 PM

The sheet music can be seen at York University's web site:

(I have boldfaced the words that are different from the version in the DT.)


THE MISTLETOE BOUGH
Words, T[homas] H[aynes] Bayly; music, Sir H[enry] R[owley] Bishop. [n.d.]

1. The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall,
And the Baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
And keeping their Christmas holiday.
The Baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, young Lovell's bride,
While she, with her bright eyes, seemed to be
The star of the goodly company.

CHORUS: Oh, the mistletoe bough!
Oh, the mistletoe bough!

2. "I'm weary of dancing, now," she cried.
"Here, tarry a moment; I'll hide; I'll hide,
And, Lovell, be sure thou'rt the first to trace
The clue to my secret lurking place."
Away she ran, and her friends began
Each tower to search and each nook to scan,
And young Lovell cried: "Oh, where dost thou hide?
I'm lonesome without thee, my own dear bride."

3. They sought her that night and they sought her next day,
And they sought her in vain when a week passed away.
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not,
And years flew by and their grief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past,
And when Lovell appeared, the children cried:
"See, the old man weeps for his fairy bride."

4. At length, an oak chest that had long lain hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid,
And a skeleton form lay mould'ring there
In the bridal wreath of the lady fair.
Oh, sad was her fate! in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest.
It closed with a spring and her bridal bloom
Lay withering there
in a living tomb.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Jul 15 - 11:33 PM

The text of THE MISTLETOE BOUGH can be seen in Atkinson's Casket, or Gems of Literature, Wit and Sentiment, No. 8 (Philadelphia: Samuel C. Atkinson, August, 1833), page 372.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 18 Jul 15 - 04:16 AM

A favourite song of the South Yorkshire/Sheffield carollers with a solo by the likes of Will Noble (currently) and a swelling chorus from the drinking carollers

Christmas sing at the likes of the Royal at Dungworth first Sunday after Armistice day every years for about 5 weeks, also singing around Sheffield area and into local part of Derbyshire!

I was at Bradfield Trad sing and play just 2 days ago at the Royal at Dungworth

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 09:19 PM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Mistletoe Bough, The

DESCRIPTION: In the castle, beneath the mistletoe bough, the lord's daughter prepares to wed young Lovell. The girl, tired of dancing, decides to hide and have Lovell find her. He never does. Years later, her body is found "in a living tomb," trapped in a chest
AUTHOR: Thomas Haynes Bayly?
EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (National Temperance Songster)
KEYWORDS: love marriage game hiding death Christmas
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South)) US(MA,MW,ro,So)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 637, "Mistletoe Bough" (1 text)
RoudBishop #126, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 802, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 466-468, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 802)
Peters, pp. 223-224, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout 31, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text plus a text of "Ginevra," for which see the NOTES)
Hubbard, #35, "The Mistletoe Bough" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1723, p. 116, "The Old Oak Chest, or The Missletoe Bough" (sic.) (2 references)
cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 481, "The Mistletoe Bough" (source notes only)
DT, MISTLETO*
ADDITIONAL: Michael R. Turner, _Victorian Parlour Poetry: An Annotated Anthology_, 1967, 1969 (page references are to the 1992 Dover edition), pp. 220-221, "The Misteltoe Bough" (1 text)

Roud #2336
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(2462), "The Mistletoe Bough," J. Harness (Preston), 1840-1866; also Harding B 15(204b), "Mistletoe Bough," H. Disley (London), 1860-1883 (partly illegible); Harding B 11(2464), "Mistetoe Bough," H. Such (London), 1863-1885
SAME TUNE:
The Vorkhouse Boy (PBB 102, "The Workhouse Boy"; cf. broadside Bodleian Firth c. 16(311), unknown, no date; a parody in "Dutch" dialect of this song, with very similar lyrics except that the girl is transformed to a boy in a poorhouse)
Billy Jenkins, or The two houses of parliament (parody per broadside Harding B 11(2462), which also contains the original)
Hail to Old Tippecanoe ("Van Buren sits in his marble hall") (Lawrence, p. 276)
The Greeley Pill, Mixed at Cincinnati and taken at Baltimore, July 19, 1872 ("There was an old doctor who wore a white hat; He made pills of Free Love and Free Farms and all that") (Lawrence, p. 456)
NOTES [615 words]: Underwood, pp. 22-23, reports this of Bramshill House near Basingstoke in Hampshire: "An ancient chest in the panelled gallery is said to have been the 'death bed' of a young bride who died on the eve of her wedding." Her ghost is reported to have walked.
Probably unrelated, but a garbled version might perhaps have inspired this song. The legend was certainly widespread; Alexander, pp. 195-196, reports versions of the story from Maxwell Hall, Owslebury, Hampshire; Brockdish Hall, Norfolk; Minster Lovell hall, Oxfordshire (a place with a lot of other legends going back to the Wars of the Roses), and of course Bramshill, but Alexander thinks Maxwell Hall the original because it, in his account, has the ghost known as the Mistletoe Bride.
On the other hand, Westwood/Simpson, p. 591, give particular attention to Minster Lovell, where there was a legend that, during a restoration, a walled-off room was located in which a dead body was found. This obviously sounds rather like this legend -- although most think the body was that of Francis, Lord Lovell, a close associate of King Richard III who fought at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 and, with his side having been defeated, was never seen again.
Hadlow, pp. 23-24, quotes a similar story told by Horace Walpole of the body of Count Konigsmark, the lover of Sophia Dorothea the wife of George I of England, who was made to disappear.
Alternately, the tale might come from the same roots as "Ginevra," by Samuel Rogers (1763-1855), which has the same story though the bride is Italian and the poem is set in Italy. I do not know the exact date of "Ginevra," but it is part of his massive multi-volume poem "Italy," published 1822-1828 and reissued in revised form in 1830, so his piece probably predates "The Mistletoe Bough."
Westwood/Simpson, p. 303, say that Rogers was working from the legend of "The Mistletoe Bride," i.e. the same legend as this song.
The final stanza of "Ginevra," as quoted in HouseholdTreasury, pp. 133-135, is as follows (the whole poem "Italy" is apparently in blank verse):
Full fifty years were past, and all forgot,
When, on an idle day, a day of search
'Mid the old lumber in the Gallery,
That mouldering chest was notices; and 'twas said
By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra,
"Why not remove it from its lurking-place?"
'Twas done as soon as said; but on the way
It burst, it fell; and lo! a skeleton,
With here and there a pearl, an emerald-stone,
A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold.
All else had perished, -- save a nuptial ring,
And a small seal, her mother's legacy,
Engraven with a name, the name of both,
"GINEVRA."
There, then, she had found a grave.
Within that chest she had concealed herself,
Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy;
When a spring lock, that lay in ambush there,
Fastened her down for ever!
Incidentally, NewCentury, entry on "Ginevra," say that this story was told of several English castles.
And, no, I have no idea, Harry Potter fans, if it is significant that Ginny Weasley's real name was Ginevra!
Leach, p. 278, claims that "The Hunting of the Snark," Lewis Carroll's greatest work other than the Alice books, uses this song as a "leitmotif"; Turner, p. 221, also speculates that this might have inspired the method of hunting a snark, "They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care...." But although Leach et al claim that a theme in "The Mistletoe Bough" is the origin of one of Carroll's stanzas, the only words they have in common are "They sought." And Leach is full of speculations in the absence of evidence (often in direct defiance of evidence). So I don't think we need pay that particular hypothesis deserves much attention. - RBW

Bibliography

  • Alexander: Marc Alexander, A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain, Sutton Publishing, 2002
  • Hadlow: Janice Hadlow, A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III, Henry Holt, 2014 (published in Britain by William Collins as The Strangest Family)
  • HouseholdTreasury: [no author listed], The Household Treasury of English Song, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872
  • Leach: Karoline Leach, In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll, second edition, Peter Owen Books, 2009 (first edition published 1999 as In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: A New Understanding of Lewis Carroll)
  • NewCentury: Clarence L. Barnhart with William D. Haley, editors, The New Century Handbook of English Literature, revised edition, Meredith Publishing, 1967
  • Underwood; Peter Underwood: Gazetteer of British, Scottish & Irish Ghosts, originally published as two volumes, A gazetteer of British Ghosts (1971?) and A gazeteer of Scottish and Irish Ghosts (1973?); although the two volumes still have separate title pages, the 1985 Bell edition I use has continuous pagination and a single index
  • Westwood/Simpson: Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys, 2005 (I use the 2006 Penguin paperback edition)
Last updated in version 4.1
File: R802

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


And here are the Digital Tradition lyrics:

MISTLETOE BOUGH

(G) C G C / F G7 C / C G C / F G7 C

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall;
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.
The Baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
Keeping the Christmas holiday.

The Baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride.
And she, with her bright eyes seemed to be
The star of that goodly company.

F G7 C

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

"I'm weary of dancing, now," she cried;
"Here, tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide,
And, Lovell, be sure you're the first to trace
The clue to my secret hiding place."

Away she ran, and her friends began
Each tower to search and each nook to scan.
And young Lovell cried, "Oh, where do you hide?
I'm lonesome without you, my own fair bride."

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

They sought her that night, they sought her next day,
They sought her in vain when a week passed away.
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not.

The years passed by and their brief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past.
When Lovell appeared, all the children cried,
"See the old man weeps for his fairy bride."
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

At length, an old chest that had long laid hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid.
A skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.

How sad the day when in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest,
It closed with a spring and a dreadful doom,
And the bride lay clasped in a living tomb.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

Published in "Ozark Folksongs" by Randolph and other folk music
collections. It is credited to Thomas Haynes Bayley, who also
wrote "Long Long Ago," and dates back to the early 19th century.

Stately, delicate, and positively creepy.
Recorded by Joan Sprung on "Pictures To My Mind," FSI-73, 1980
@seasonal @death
filename[ MISTLETO
TUNE FILE: MISTLETO
CLICK TO PLAY
DC




Here's the Steeleye Span recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTM7fZNxLiY
Steeleye Span lyrics from Mainly Norfolk: https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/mistletoebough.html


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Subject: ADD Version: The Mistletoe Bough (Joan Sprung)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 09:22 PM

Kendall asked me about this, so here is my transcription of the Joan Sprung recording. I've put differences from the Digital Tradition in boldface type.

MISTLETOE BOUGH
(attributed to Thomas Haynes Bayly, who also wrote "Long Long Ago,")

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall;
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.
The Baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
Keeping the Christmas holiday.

The Baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride.
While she, with her bright eyes seemed to be
The star of that goodly company.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

"I'm weary of dancing, now," she cried;
"Here, tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide,
And, Lovell, be sure you're the first to trace
The clue to my secret lurking place."

Away she ran, and her friends began
Each tower to search and each nook to scan.
And young Lovell cried, "Oh, where do you hide?
I'm lonesome without you, my own fair bride."

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

They sought her that night, they sought her next day,
They sought her in vain when a week passed away.
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not.

And the years flew by and their grief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past.
When Lovell appeared, all the children cried,
"See the old man weeps for his fairy bride."

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

At length, an old chest that had long laid hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid.
A skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.

Sad was her fate when in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in that old oak chest,
It closed with a spring and a dreadful doom,
And the bride lay clasped in a living tomb.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.



Recorded by Joan Sprung on "Pictures To My Mind," FSI-73, 1980

Joan Sprung recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crqEVliyxbY

Gee, this is really creepy. Thanks for calling it to my attention, Kendall.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 09:58 PM

Also see this 1904 film adaptation from the BFI National Archive:


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: GUEST,Henry Piper (of Ottery)
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 06:18 AM

The song is based on an incident that is supposed to have occurred at Minster Lovell hall in Oxfordshire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 07:23 AM

one result of technolgucal progress is that if she did it noy she would have a mobile phone with her


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Reinhard
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 09:07 AM

Do even bridal gowns have pockets for mobiles now? For importanc calls, like from the ex during the marriage ceremony?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 02:42 PM

Joe,
Regarding Bob's synopsis, the earliest broadsides I have are by both Pitts and Catnach. The Pitts one can't be any later than 1844 and therefore 1830s to 1844 as Bayly wrote it before 1839 and Pitts died in 1844.
The earliest dated broadside of it I have is 1851 in Glasgow Poet's Box.
It was in Ross of Newcastle's 1849 catalogue of broadsides. Bayly died in 1839 so Bishop must have published it after his death. Of course it could easily have appeared on broadsides before the sheet music came out, although it normally works the other way round.

There was a minstrel parody probably not much later than the original, called 'Young Bowshin's Bride'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 02:52 PM

The Italian Ginevra legend apparently predates all of this probably by centuries. Glasgow Poet's Box printed a song with this title 'Ginevra' in 1869 but I haven't got ready access to it. There is also a broadside account of the Ginevra legend in the Madden Collection but again I haven't got a copy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Mistletoe Belle? / Mistletoe Bough
From: Tradsinger
Date: 01 Oct 18 - 05:17 PM

Here's what Glostrad.com has to say on the subject:

The song was composed about 1830 with words written by Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797-1839) and music by Sir Henry Bishop (1786-1855). Bayly was born in Bath but buried in Cheltenham. The direct inspiration for Bayly’s rendition was probably “Ginevra” a poem published in 1822 by the English poet Samuel Rogers, telling much the same story.

The song was printed on broadsheets and soon taken up by country singers on both sides of the Atlantic as a Christmas party piece. Curiously, many performers state that the location of the tragedy is somewhere near where they live.

Tradsinger


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