Another man’s wedding, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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I was invited to another man’s wedding
All by a fair one that proved so unkind
And aye as she thought on her old former lover
The thoughts of her darling still ran in her mind.

When dinner was over and all things were completed
It fell each young man’s lot to sing a love song
And it happened to fall on her old former lover:
To sing those few verses it winnae keep you long.

– Oh, many’s the lord was seven years from his lady
And many the lord he never came back again
But I was only one year away from my darling
When an unconstant lover to me she became.

Oh, how can you sit at another man’s table
Or how can you drink of another man’s wine
Or how can you lie in the arms of another,
You that was so long a true lover of mine?

The bride she was seated at the head of the table
And every word she remembered it well;
To bear it in mind this fair maid she was not able
And down at the groom’s feet she instantlie fell.

There is one request and I will ask you for no other,
The first and the last, love, perhaps it may be:
Only this one night to stay with my mother,
The rest of my time I will share it all with you.

The request it was asked and just immediately granted,
Sighing and sobbing she went into her bed
And early the next morning when the young groom awoken
He went into her chamber and found that she was dead.

He lifted her up from her soft and downy pillow,
He carried her out into the garden so green,
With sheets and fine pillows, oh, soon they did surround her
Still thinking that his young wife she might come to life again.

– Oh Sally, lovely Sally, when you and were courting
You vowed and declared that you loved no one but me,
But them that depends upon fair maiden’s folly
Their love it will decay like the bark on the tree.

All around my hat I will wear a weeping willow,
All around my hat until death it comes to me
And if anybody asks me why I wear the willow
It’s all for my true love that I never more will see.


Dating probably from the eighteenth century, this English lyrical ballad has had more applause in Ireland than any similar song. From the 1850s it became the object of Anglo-Irish literary adaptation and Irish airs were often published for it. Present-day versions vary greatly, perhaps because the Irish popular press had little hand in its dissemination. The narrative is simple and clear: textual variation consists mainly of lyric embellishment of the theme, though in one recent version lyric embellishment looks like taking over (S).

The Magilligan versions, MNQR, agree quite closely in text. They reduce, changing its meaning, the proverbial image of bark and tree prominent in one Donegal version:

Now all you young men who intend to get married,
I pray take a warning by me;
Ah, never you be in too much a hurry
Or never you go between the bark and the tree,

On the other hand, Eddie and Robert present a well-developed story in which the slighted lover’s reproach is particularly impressive.