The Twa Sisters

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Melody - Seq. by John Renfro Davis
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Traditional Ballad, Child Ballad #10

There liv'd twa sisters in a bower,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
There liv'd twa sisters in a bower,
Stirling for aye:
The youngest o' them, O, she was a flower!
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

2. There came a squire frae the west,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
There cam a squire frae the west,
Stirling for aye:
He lo'ed them baith, but the youngest best,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

3. He gied the eldest a gay gold ring,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
He gied the eldest a gay gold ring,
Stirling for aye:
But he lo'ed the youngest aboon a' thing,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

4. Oh sister, sister, will ye go to the sea?
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
Oh sister, sister, will ye go to the sea?
Stirling for aye:
Our father's ships sail bonnilie,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

5. The youngest sat down upon a stane,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
The youngest sat down upon a stane,
Stirling for aye:
The eldest shot the youngest in,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

6. Oh sister, sister, lend me your hand,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
Oh, sister, sister, lend me your hand,
Stirling for aye:
And you shall hae my gouden fan,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

7. Oh, sister, sister, save my life,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
Oh sister, sister, save my life,
Stirling for aye:
And ye shall be the squire's wife,
Bonny Sweet Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

8. First she sank, and then she swam,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
First she sank, and then she swam,
Stirling for aye:
Until she cam to Tweed mill dam,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

9. The millar's daughter was baking bread,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
The millar's daughter was baking bread,
Stirling for aye:
She went for water, as she had need,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

10. Oh father, father, in our mill dam,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch,
Oh father, father, in our mill dam,
Stirling for aye:
There's either a lady, or a milk-white swan,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

11. They could nae see her fingers small,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
They could nae see her fingers small,
Stirling for aye:
Wi' diamond rings they were cover'd all,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

12. They could nae see her yellow hair,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
They could nae see her yellow hair,
Stirling for aye:
Sae mony knots and platts war there,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.

13. Bye there cam a fiddler fair,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch.
Bye there cam a fiddler fair,
Stirling for aye:
And he's ta'en three tails o' her yellow hair,
Bonny Sanct Johnstonne that stands upon Tay.


From Sharpe's Ballad Book, No. X., p. 30. A version of "Binnorie." The ballad here ends abruptly; doubtless the fiddler made fiddle-strings of the lady's hair, and a fiddle of her breast-bone, while the instrument probably revealed the cruelty of the sister. Other extant versions are composite or interpolated, so this fragment (Sharpe's) has been preferred in this place.

Thi ballad first appeared on a broadside in 1656 as The Miller and the King's Daughter.

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