This ballad begins: 'As I walked out one evening in the month of May, / The flowers they were springing the lambs did sport and play; / I heard a couple talking, as they walked hand in hand; / For to hear their conversation I eagerly did stand.' There are no publication details given, but this is one of two songs - printed by James Lindsay - on this sheet.
This ballad follows a religious dispute between two young lovers. It is presented as if overheard by a third party. Whilst Johnny declares himself a Roman Catholic and accuses Nancy of heresy, she denounces the Church of Rome and maintains her loyalty to Luther and Protestantism. After threatening to leave Johnny, Nancy is suddenly overcome with loyalty and chooses to forego her faith for him. This ballad illustrates well the age-old tensions that existed between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
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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