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  1. The Prickly Bush
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English Folk-Heritage
This is an adaptation of Child Ballad No 95, The Prickly Bush, Collected From Robert Little in South Marston, in Wiltshire.
It is basically a male version of a song called The Maid Freed From The Gallows that’s known to be several hundred years old. The Prickly Bush describes someone who is in a prickly situation - either by design or not.
In times gone by breaking a betrothal of marriage by a man was punishable by death or a cash forfeit.
Wealthy people were sometimes kidnapped and held to ransom. Sometimes prisoners taken in battle, and sometimes in retribution for a dastardly deed they had done, sometimes just for the money. If the family stumped up the ransom, the hostage was freed.
This version of The Prickly Bush, a very common and popular English Heritage folksong, originates from South Marston, in Wiltshire and was collected from a farmhand named Robert Little by Alfred Williams.
It is a localized male version of Child Ballad No 95 “The Maid Freed From The Gallows” that is known to be several hundred years old. It is not clear what were the subject’s crimes that he finds himself in such dire straits and receiving little sympathy from his family. It is possible that he has been simply kidnapped for ransom, which frequently happened after battle in the Middle Ages. The alternative lyric used here is “Nor have I come to save you from hanging, all on yon gallows tree”.

Lyrics

Chorus:
Oh the prickly bush, how it pricks my heart full sore
And if ever I get out of this prickly bush, then I never will get in it any more.

Hangman stay your hand, stay it for awhile
For I think I see my sister coming, over yonder stile
Oh Sister have you brought me gold or silver to pay my fee
Or have you come to see me hanging all on yon gallows tree
Oh no, I haven’t brought you gold, nor silver to set you free
For I have come to see you hanging all on yon gallows tree.

Hangman stay your hand, stay it for awhile
For I think I see my Mother coming, over yonder stile
Oh Mother have you brought me gold or silver to set me free
Or have you come to see me hanging all on yon gallows tree
Oh no, I haven’t brought you gold, nor silver to set you free
For I have come to see you hanging all on yon gallows tree.

Hangman stay your hand, stay it for awhile
For I think I see my own true love, coming over yonder stile
Oh true love have you brought me gold or silver to set me free
Or have you come to see me hanging all on yon gallows tree
Oh yes, I have brought you gold and silver to pay your fee
And I have come to save you from hanging all on yon gallows tree

Oh the prickly bush, It pricks my heart full sore
And now that I’m out of this prickly bush, I never will get in it any more.
Oh the prickly bush, It pricks my heart full sore
And now that I’m out of this prickly bush, I never will get in it,
I never will get in it, I never will get in it any more.

© PhilDrane Music 2016