“The Nobleman's Wedding (The Faultless Bride; The Love Token)”

Alternate titles: “The Green Willow Tree”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1855 (Petrie)
Keywords: disguise wedding infidelity death grief hardheartedness jealousy love marriage
Found in: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) US(MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland

Description

A man disguises himself to attend the wedding of the girl he loved before he went away. He sings a song that reminds her of her unfaithfulness and promises to return her love token. She swoons and returns to her mother's home. She dies before morning

Supplemental text

Nobleman's Wedding, The (The Faultless Bride; The Love Token) [Laws P31]
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Awful Wedding

From Cecil Sharp & Maud Karpeles, English Folk Songs from the
Southern Appalachians. Vol. I1 (1932 edition). Item #105, p. 83.
Collected 1909 from "Mrs. Moore" of Rabun, Georgia.

I'll tell you of an awful wedding
Where two true lovers proved unkind
She begin to reflect on her former studies
And her old true love run strong in her mind.

They were all seated round the table
And every one should sing a song
And the very first one was her old true lover
And this is the song that he sung to the bride

If any one should ask the reason
Why I put on my strange attire
I'm crossed in love, that is the reason
I've lost my only heart's delight

But I'll put on my strange attire
And I will wear it for a week or two
--------------------
Till I change my old love for the new

But how can you lie with your head on another man's pillow
When you proved your love so late to me?
To bear it any longer she was not able
And down at her bridegroom's feet she fell

There['s] one thing I do desire
Perhaps you all will grant me
That is this night to lie by my mother
And all that love me lie with thee

And this request being soon was granted
With watery eyes they went to bed
So early, so early, as they rose in the morning
They found the young bride lying dead

Notes

According to Hazlitt's _Dictionary of Faiths & Folklore_, to wear the willow meant that one had been forsaken by a lover.

Norman Ault's _Elizabethan Lyrics_ claims that the first mention of wearing green willow comes in a poem by John Heywood: "All a green willow, willow, willow, All a green willow is my garland." The manuscript, BM Add. 15233, is dated c. 1545. We also find the notion in Shakespeare's "Othello," IV.iii, and in Salisbury's "Buen Matina" (1597).

Roud lumps this with "All Around My Hat." That's *really* a stretch. - RBW

The "Awful Wedding" subgroup ("I'll tell you of an awful wedding"), despite the similarity in titles, is *not* "The Fatal Wedding." - PJS, RBW

Recordings

References

  1. Laws P31, "The Nobleman's Wedding (The Faultless Bride; The Love Token)"
  2. Belden, pp. 165-166, "The Faultless Bride" (1 text)
  3. SharpAp 105, "The Awful Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. SHenry H60a, pp. 400-401, "An Old Lover's Wedding"; H60b, p. 401, "The Laird's Wedding" (2 texts, 2 tune, the second mixed with "All Around My Hat")
  5. Ord, pp. 132-133, "The Unconstant Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Kennedy 164, "The Nobleman's Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. McBride 1, "Another Man's Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Creighton/Senior, pp. 158-159, "Green Willow" (1 text, probably this piece though not so listed by Laws)
  9. Greenleaf/Mansfield 75, "The Nobleman's Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Peacock, pp. 691-697, "Nobleman's Wedding" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
  11. Karpeles-Newfoundland 30, "The Nobleman's Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Darling-NAS, pp. 142-143, "To Wear a Green Willow" (1 text)
  13. DT 509, NOBELWED
  14. ST LP31 (Partial)
  15. Roud #567
  16. BI, LP31