Bonny Light Horseman
Version 1
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


Information
Lyrics
Sam Henry believed the tune is probably over 400 years old and is of Irish origin because it used the old Irish gapped scale (which did not use the 4th and 7th notes of the modern scale). According to William Barrett the song appeared frequently in England after 1790 on broadsides printed in London, Birmingham and Preston. There are several variants of the tune.

The song, also known as Broken-Hearted I Wander, had widespread popularity during the Napoleonic Wars (George referring to King George and Boney referring to Napoleon Bonaparte). Barrett's lyrics, although very similar, do not refer to the Napoleonic Wars. Barrett's lyrics can be found at The Bonny Light Horseman (2).

Ye maids, wives, and widows, I pray give attention,
Unto this sad tale I rehearse unto thee:
A maid in distress who will now be a rover,
She relies upon George for the loss of her love.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, for the loss of my lover,
My bonny light horseman, in the wars he was slain.


Three years and six months since he left England's shore,
My bonny light horseman, will I ne'er see him more?
He's mounted on horseback, so gallant and gay
And among the whole regiment respected was he.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, for the loss of my lover,
My bonny light horseman, in the wars he was slain.


When Boney commanded his armies to stand,
He levelled his cannon right over the land,
He levelled his cannons his victory to gain
And he slew my light horseman on the way coming hame.
Broken-hearted I'll wander, for the loss of my lover,
My bonny light horseman, in the wars he was slain.


The dove she laments for her mate as she flies;
'Oh where, tell me where is my darling?' she cries;
'And where in this world is there one to compare
With my bonny light horseman who was slain in the war?'
Broken-hearted I'll wander, for the loss of my lover,
My bonny light horseman, in the wars he was slain.


Related Links
Music from English Folk-Songs
Lyrics and information Sam Henry's Songs of the People
See Bibliography for full information.