This ballad begins: 'IN Winter when the Rain rains cald, / And frost and snaw on Elka Hill.' This sheet was published by John Moncur of Sclater's Close, Edinburgh in 1707.
Both the tune and the lyrics of this ballad were favourites of the Scottish folksinger David Kennedy (1825-7), whose memorial can be found on Calton Hill, Edinburgh. The tune is thought to have been re-written from the English folksong, 'Greensleeves'. This is one of the earliest Scottish records of the lyrics. Part of them, however, were spoken by Iago in Shakespeare's 'Othello', although he refers to King Stephen and not King Robert.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Date of publication:
1707 shelfmark: S.302.b.2(052)
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