Outlandish Knight

In preparing for our co-op I made a compilation of some of the verses that are used in many recordings of this song!  For your reference, here are some helpful blog posts!

I love this quote from the first link:
Cecil Sharp believed this to be the widest circulated of all our folk ballads, “outlandish” here means coming from beyond the northern border—that is, Scotland. The story told is an ancient one of a beguiling lover who entices a whole sequence of girls to their deaths. Ballads on the same theme are known in Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, Holland, France; and perhaps the Bluebeard story is a first cousin to our song. Probably the lover was originally a malevolent water spirit who drowned the girls of his choice. If so, this supernatural element has become so vague as to be almost unnoticeable, as the ballad has passed from mouth to mouth. The rather humorous pay-off concerning the sly talking bird was detached from the ballad in Victorian times, and was made into a separate comic song, Tell-tale Polly, published in Charley Fox's Minstrel Companion (c. 1861), and is an example of the downward path taken by some of our grander specimens of folklore. Vaughan Williams obtained the tune of his version in South Walsham, Norfolk.

I love the connection they make to the Bluebeard story.  We read that as part of our literature last year in the Blue Fairy book by Andrew Lang!

When I think of what kids might enjoy out of this folk song it is the art of storytelling in music!  I love how visual many of these verses are and the images you can come up with in your mind!  I made a fun little cartoon with 9 verses that I'll be giving to my kids at co-op.  I think these will help lend themselves to learning about the "order" of a story!  What came first, second, etc.

For the song, I will teach it to them first by singing the song and having them create images in their mind of the story so they can tell the story back to me when the song is done.  Then, I will give them the little cards and the lyric sheet.  I won't tell them the order of the pictures but have them see if they can find a picture that best matches the verse I sing.  During that time, the kids will sing too. (By this time the repetitive melody will be sung enough times for them to catch on!)

If there is time, a fun extension of this song is to tell our own story!  You can use the melody to create a new song to tell a story about a dragon, or the kid next door, or even retell your favorite story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears!  I can't wait to see what creative juices flow from the kids this month at our co-op!

For reference, here is the melody and 9 verses that we will use!
(If you want to really turn this into a music lesson talk about the dorian mode that this song is based on!  It sounds minor but it is not our traditional harmonic minor key - it is based on the 2nd mode of a tonal scale.)

Vs. 1
An outlandish knight came from the north lands,
He came wooing of me;
And he told me he'd take me to the north lands,
And there he would marry me.

Vs. 2
“Go fetch me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best of your father's horses,
There stands thirty and three.”

Vs. 3
She mounted on her milk-white steed,
He's rode the dapple grey.
They rode till they came to the broad riverside,
Three hours before it was day.

Vs. 4
“Light down, light down, my pretty fair maid,
Light down, light down,” cried he,
“Six pretty maidens have I drowned here,
The seventh one you shall be.”

Vs. 5
“Go get me a sickle to crop off the thistle
That grows beneath the brim,
It will not mingle with my curly locks
Or mangle my glittering skin.”

Vs. 6
So he got a sickle to crop the thistle
That grew beside the brim,
She caught him around the middle so small,
And tumbled him into the stream.

Vs. 7
Sometimes he sank, sometimes he swam,
Down to the bank came he.
“Oh help me, oh help me, my pretty fair maid,
Or drowned I shall be”

Vs. 8
She's mounted on her milk-white steed,
And led the dapple grey,
She rode till she came to her father's door
An hour before it was day.

Vs. 9
 “Don't prittle, don't prattle, my pretty Polly,
Don't tell no tales of me,
Your cage shall be made of the glistening gold,
And your perch of the best ivory.”


  1. What a great idea to keep the kids' interest and attention as you get in more reps of the song to help them commit it to memory! My daughter loves this song, but she doesn't have it memorized yet. I'll have to try this with her; she is sure to enjoy it. Thank you for sharing!


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