Fair Margaret and Sweet William

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FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM. AKA and see "Fair Margaret's Misfortune." English, Air (3/4 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The air appears in Watts' Musical Miscellany (ii. 84, 1729) and The Village Opera (1729). In the Douce Collection the ballad is entitled "Fair Margaret's Misfortune; or, Sweet William's frightful dreams on his wedding night: with the sudden death and burial of those noble lovers. To an excellent new tune."

As it fell out on a long summer's day,
Two lovers they sat on a hill;
They sat together that long summer's day,
And could not talk their fill.

The ballad relates that Sweet William marries another, Margaret dies broken-hearted, and her ghost visits the newlyweds on their wedding night. There are many variants of this ballad, and some blending of lyrics with other, similar, ballads. Steve Roud lists 250 traditional versions in his folk song index.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; pp. 131-132.

Recorded sources:




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