Song or Story
The Company Dressed in Green
Black River Bridge, NB
Rights and Access Note
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"The Company Dressed in Green" is descended from a 19th century Irish Broadside called "The Squire of Edinburgh Town," which is, in turn, a reworking of Child Ballad 221, "Katharine Jaffray." It tells the story of how a woman forced to marry against her will is successfully abducted from the wedding by her lover. It was particularly common in Northeastern North America.
1. Oh, there was a squire, lived in Edinburgh town,/ And a squire of a high degree./ And he courted of this comely maid,/ And a comely maid was she.
2. Oh there was a farmer, lived in the East./ And he had one only son./ And he courted of this comely maid,/ Til he thought that he had her won.
3. Oh he got consent from old and young,/ From her father and mother likewise./ But still she cried, “I am undone,”/ While the tears roll from her eyes
4. Oh she wrote her love a letter,/ And she sealed it with her hand,/ Saying, “I am going to be wed,/ Unto another man.”
5. Oh he wrote her back an answer./ And it was short and keen./ Saying, “Dress yourself in green, my love,/ And I'll dress in the same”
6. Oh he looked east and he looked west./ And he looked all over the land./ And he picked out three score of men,/ All of a noble clan.
7. Oh he mounted them on milk white steeds./ And green were all their clothes./ And he himself a single man,/ To the wedding house he goes.
8. All the company they did welcome them there,/ And a welcome man was he./ Saying, “Did you see any fairer troops,/ That rode along this way?”
9. Oh they handed him a glass of beer,/ And a cup of the wine so strong./ Saying, “Here's a health to the new Bridegroom,/ For he is a happy man.
10. Oh but ten times happier is the man,/ That will enjoy the bride./ Another loves just as well,/ And he takes her from his side”
11. Then up stepped the new bridegroom./ And an angry man was he,/ Saying, “If it is for fight you came/ I am a man for thee.”
12. “It was not for fight that I came here,/ But my company for to show./ Give me one kiss from your lovely bride/ And away from you we'll go”
13. Oh he caught her by the slender waist./ And he grasped her by the sleeve./ And out of the wedding house he goes,/ While the company asked no leave.
14. All the drums did beat and the organs did play,/ Most glorious to be heard./ So now she is wed to her squire lad,/ And the company dressed in green. [spoken]
Stanley MacDonald, Sandy Ives, Black River Bridge, New Brunswick, Miramichi, Child 221, Roud 93, Ballad, Broadside, Irish, Scottish, Border, Elopement, Abduction, Parental Opposition
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Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
MacDonald, Stanley. 1963. "The Company Dressed in Green." NA854, CD585.3. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department, University of Maine.