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Lord Gregory

23 Aug 99 - 08:21 PM (#107829)
Subject: Lord Gregory

I have just been listening to the song Lord Gregory by Robert Burns sung by Mae McKenna. Its a beautiful song and very haunting but I'd love to know exactly what its about. Obviously Lord Gregory had shunned the young woman in the song. Anyone know anything else about it?

23 Aug 99 - 08:43 PM (#107833)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory

Look for (Child) #76 in DT.

24 Aug 99 - 02:24 AM (#107949)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: emily rain

i'm curious, too. just what did gregory's mother think she was protecting him from? and if he had shunned the lass of loch royal, why was he so frantic when he learned she had been out to find him?

24 Aug 99 - 08:41 AM (#107994)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: GeorgeH

emily rain . . mother's only THINK they know best (at least that's usually the son's perspective). Cross-ref Betsy the Serving maid on this!


24 Aug 99 - 08:45 AM (#107996)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: IanC

Mothers often do ... see Lord Randal

24 Aug 99 - 09:54 AM (#108013)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Alan of Australia

By Robert Burns? I doubt it.


24 Aug 99 - 12:11 PM (#108051)
Subject: Lyr Add: LORD GREGORY (Robert Burns)

Robert Burn's probably collected the song and then changed some parts of it. His version is different from the one's in the database and I had no idea their were so many versions. It's probably ancient. Burn's version goes like this:

O mirk, mirk is this midnight hour
And loud the tempest roar!
A waeful wanderer seeks thy tower -
Lord Gregory, ope thy door.
An exile frae her father's ha',
And a' for the sake o thee,
At least some pity on me shaw,
If love it may na be.

Lord Gregory mind'st thou not the grove
By bonie Irwine side,
Where first I own'd that virgin love
I lang, lang had denied?
How aften didst thou pledge and vow,
Thou wad for ay be mine?
And my fond heart, itsel sae true,
It ne'er mistrusted thine.

Hard is thy heart, Lord Gregory,
And flinty is thy breast:
Thou bolt of Heaven that flashest by,
O, wilt thou bring me rest!
Ye mustering thunders from above,
Your willing victim see,
But spare and pardon my fause love,
His wrangs to Heaven and me!

I just found out the original poem was by John Wolcot under the 'nom de plume' of Peter Pindar.

[still adding line breaks after all these years]

25 Aug 99 - 02:37 AM (#108311)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Murray on Saltspring

Wolcot (1738-1819) was a "contemptible scribbler" according to Boswell, and he sent his version to the Edinburgh publisher Thomson--I won't quote it, it's dreadful. Burns, asked to admire it, tactfully did so, then offered Thomson his own version, a "set of stanzas in Scots, on the same subject", which are not that much of an improvement in my opinion. Give me the old trad version in the Scots Musical Museum (no. 5; published 1787), which doesn't try to be "polite" or "nice" or in the proper 18th century taste. The oldest version in the DT is pretty close to that of Scott, but MacColl said he got it in Wiltshire [and maybe played about with it, as I suspect he often did]. The FIRST version published appeared in Herd, 1776; Scott's in 1802. But it was old by then. The haunting tune, described by an editor as "a very ancient Gallowegian melody" first appeared in SMM as above; Bronson finds an affinity with the enormous "Miller of Dee" family, which does make it ancient, at least. MacColl's tune, while sounding authentic and all, doesn't grab me the way the old 1787 one does.

05 Jun 08 - 03:10 PM (#2358576)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Brian Peters

Time to exhume a near ten-year-old thread. The tune used by MacColl for this ballad, which (as Murray above remarked) he credited to a Margaret Logan in Wiltshire, seems to me to be remarkably close to that sung by Elizabeth Cronin - listen .

Anyone know anything about Ms. Logan, or able to shed any light on this?

05 Jun 08 - 04:40 PM (#2358670)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Jim Carroll

I undersand that Margaret Logan was the grandmother of one of the regulars at the Singers Club.
They also recorded a fine version of The Cruel Mother from her.
Jim Carroll

06 Jun 08 - 06:04 AM (#2359145)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle

As I read it Lord Gregory has left Anne but without necessarily knowing she is pregnant.
Anne arrives with baby to announce lord Gregory is the father.
Mother sees her, pretends to be Lord Gregory and sends her away, presumably to protect her noble son from having to marry someone who may be beneath him.
He is frantic when he finds out his mother has sent Anne away no doubt to her death, because he loves her.

Compare this to Clyde's Water where Maggie's mother pulls the same stunt to get rid of Willie, with the same double-drowning result.

06 Jun 08 - 06:06 AM (#2359148)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: The Sandman

Nic Jones a very good versionof Clyde Water

06 Jun 08 - 10:57 AM (#2359383)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: DannyC


Thank you for posting the fragment of Mrs. Cronin's singing. I had heard that snippet but, in my haste at the time, did not bookmark it.

Mary McPartlan does a lovely job with (what must be) Mrs. Cronin's setting. (More than lovely --- really wonderful in fact) Here's a link with a snippet of her rendering:

Mary McPartlan song segments

06 Jun 08 - 11:11 AM (#2359395)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Jack Campin

A nice feature of the old tune is that it's in 7-bar phrases (4+3), which is common in psalm tunes but not in secular song tunes sung these days. Makes a change.

06 Jun 08 - 11:14 AM (#2359399)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Acorn4

There's another very good version of the song by Catherine Roberts and Saen Lakeman.

06 Jun 08 - 06:45 PM (#2359698)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Geordie-Peorgie

There's also a version on 'Silly Sisters' under the title of 'Lass Of Loch Royal' - Crackin' song

06 Jun 08 - 10:41 PM (#2359825)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Abby Sale

Apparently Burns based his text on the Herd's 1776 "lass of lochroyan." (Per JC Dick's "The Songs of...Burns.")

This is maybe the first proper ballad I ever learned; from MacColl's 1956 Riverside E&SPB. I still sing it. Love it.

MacColl was surprisingly true to actually printed/collected texts. I have several times located (nearly) identical texts that I'd been pretty sure he'd "improved" significantly.

OTOH, I still suspect all the tunes he came up with that he reported from a single source that happened to be his deceased mother. Hardish to check.

07 Jun 08 - 03:06 AM (#2359892)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Jim Carroll

It is no way traditional in performance, but there is a beautiful rendition of the song in John Houston's film version of the Joyce short story, 'The Dead'.
Hugh Shields wrote an excellent article on the songs transmission.
It has been recorded from an elderly local singer around here who occasionally used to sing it in pub sessions. There is a story told of the night he sang it on such an occasion when he was interrupted by an equally elderly publican, a staunch Republican, who roared across the bar, "What did ******* Lord Gregory ever do for Ireland.
Jim Carroll

07 Jun 08 - 05:46 AM (#2359944)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Dave Sutherland

I would love to add something extra or original regarding this most powerful ballad but most of it has been said. I managed to make a recording of MacColl singing it at Newcastle's Barleycorn club back in 1970 (now long gone - both the club and the recording)and his version is the one I like the best. I have heard several variants since then, some where Gregory manages to save both Annie and the child and others where all three end up drowned. MacColl's hits the right ballance of pathos, sadness and passion.
It also mentions South Shields football team ("Oh row your boat ye Mariners"!)

07 Jun 08 - 11:32 AM (#2360092)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: GUEST,Joseph Rizla

Isn't the song in the film of Joyce's "The Dead" called "The lass of Aughrim" (not being familiar enough with the various songs mentioned, I don't know whether this is another variant)?

07 Jun 08 - 11:38 AM (#2360096)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Malcolm Douglas

See other discussions here for more on that (links are at the top of the page).

07 Jun 08 - 11:41 AM (#2360100)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Fred McCormick

Yes. That's the same one. In fact the song, or rather the memories which it evokes are rather pivotal to the story.

07 Jun 08 - 02:35 PM (#2360182)
Subject: RE: Lord Gregory
From: Jim Carroll

Ballad scholar David Fowler, in his Literary History of The Ballad, suggested that The Lass of Roch Royal was based on the Accused Queen from medieval folktales, and also was Constance from Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale
Jim Carroll