Fair Helen of Kirkconnel

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X:1 % T:Fair Helen of Kirkconnell M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air S:John Rook music manuscript collection (Waverton, Cumbria, 1840, p. 203) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D A|(de) f3a|f/e/d/c/ B3d|AF A2 (Bc/d/)|cB/c/ d2 zA|AF G2 GA/B/| AF D2 zA|de f3a|f/e/d/c/ B2 ga/b/|af d>f f/e/d/e/|{e}d2 z2 zA| de f3 a|f/e/d/c/ B2 zb|af g2 ga/b/|af d2 zA|AF G2 GA/B/| AF D2 zA|de f3a|f/e/d/c/ B2 ga/b/|af d>f f/e/d/e/ |{e}d2 z2 z||



FAIR HELEN OF KIRKCONNEL. AKA - "Kirkconnel Lea," "Fair Helen." Scottish, Air (3/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. A Scottish Borders ballad. Robert Chambers, in his Songs of Scotland Prior to Burns, writes:

In the burial ground of Kirkconnell, near the Border, is the grave of Helen Irving, recognised by tradition as Fair Helen of Kirkconnell, and who is supposed to have lived in the sixteenth century. It is also the grave of her lover, Adam Fleming--a name that once predominated the district. Helen, according to the narration of Pennant (Pennant’s Tour in Scotland, 1772), “was beloved by two gentlemen at the same time. The one vowed to sacrifice the successful rival to his resentment, and watched an opportunity while the happy pair were sitting on the banks of the Kirtle, that washes these grounds. Helen perceived the desperate lover on the opposite side, and fondly thinking to save her favourite, interposed; and, receiving the wound intended for her beloved, fell and expired in his arms. He instantly revenged her death; then fled into Spain, and served for some time against the Infidels: on his return, he visited the grave of his unfortunate mistress, stretched himself on it, and expiring on the spot, was interred by her side. A cross and a sword are engraven on the tombstone, with 'HIC JACET ADAMUS FLEMING'; the only memorial of this unhappy gentleman, except an ancient ballad which records the tragical event.

The first two stanzas (as published by Sir Walter Scott) go:

I wish I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies,
On fair Kirconnell Lea!

Curst be the heart, that thought the thought,
And curst the hand, that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
And died to succour me!


Additional notes

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