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Bonnie Earl O' Murray
Album: Auld Scotch Sangs
Album: Drifting with Michener

 
Child Ballad #181
According to the Child, this ballad probably first appeared in print an early edition of Tea-Table Miscellany (1736 or 1740).
The ballad is based on a historical incident. James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Moray (Lord Doune) was the son-in-law of the regent (also James Stewart). James VI of Scotland suspected Moray, had been involved with the Earl of Bothwell (Francis Stewart, nephew of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell who had wed Mary, Queen of Scots) in an attempt on the king's life. James VI issued a warrant for Moray's arrest in 1592, charging George Gorden, 6th Earl of Huntly, with carrying it out. Huntly had a long-standing feud with Moray and rather than arrest him, Huntly killed Moray outside Moray's castle in Fife. Moray's mother took the corpse to Holyrood Palace where it lay uninterred for months.  
 

 
Ye heilands and ye lowlands,
O whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Murray,
And laid him on the green;

He was a braw gallant,
and he rade at the ring;
And the bonnie Earl o' Murray
He micht hae been the king.

O lang will his lady
Look o'er frae castle Doune,
Ere she see the Earl o' Murray
Come soundin' thro' the toon.

Noo wae be to thee Huntley,
And wherefore did ye sae?
I bade ye bring him wi' ye,
But forbade ye him to slay.

He was a braw gallant,
And he play'd at the ba'
And the bonnie Earl o' Murray
Was the flow'r amang them a'.

O lang will his lady
Look o'er frae castle Doune,
Ere she see the Earl o' Murray
Come soundin' thro' the toon.

Oh mourn, oh mourn ye Lowlands,
Oh mourn ye Highalnds a'
They have slain the Earl o' Murray
On the greensward ha' he fa'

He was a braw gallant,
And he play'd at the glove
And the bonnie Earl o' Murray
He was the Queen's own love.

O lang will his lady
Look o'er frae castle Doune,
Ere she see the Earl o' Murray
Come soundin' thro' the toon.

 

Glossary
a': all
ba': game of handball
bonnie: good
braw: handsome
frae: from
hae: have
lang: long
micht: might
noo: now
rade: rode
toon: town
wae: woe, grief
wi': with

 

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