“Fair and Tender Ladies”


Lyric song, in which the narrator, a woman, laments the falseness of men. She sadly remarks, "Oh if I were some little sparrow / And had I wings so I could fly / I'd fly away to my own true lover / And when he courted, I'd deny."


Hudson for some reason lists this as a British import, without offering supporting evidence. Paddy Tunney's Irish version is about all I can find in support of his claim. - RBW

Cross references


  • Murray, Mu23-y1:105, "The Wheel of Fortune," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C [extremely mixed, with the "Wheel of Fortune" verse, a thyme stanza, a bit of "Fair and Tender Ladies," a "Queen of Heart" verse, and more]


  • Sheila Clark, "Come All Ye Fair Ladies" (on LegendTomDula)
  • Sara Cleveland, "Come All You Maidens" (on SCleveland01)
  • Martha Hall, "Young and Tender Ladies" (on MMOK, MMOKCD)
  • Sarah Hawkes, "Little Sparrow" (on Persis1)
  • Roscoe Holcomb, "Willow Tree" (on Holcomb1, HolcombCD1)
  • Pete Seeger, "Come All Fair Maids" (on PeteSeeger02, PeteSeegerCD01); "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (on PeteSeeger05)


  1. Belden, pp. 477-478, "Little Sparrow" (2 texts)
  2. Randolph 73, "You Fair and Pretty Ladies" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 121-122, "You Fair and Pretty Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 73A)
  4. BrownII 71, "The Drowsy Sleeper" (2 texts plus 3 excerpts; the "D" excerpt contains "Fair and Tender Ladies" verses)
  5. Hudson 51, p. 167, "Young Ladies" (1 text)
  6. BrownIII 254, "Little Sparrow" (4 texts plus 1 excerpt and 1 fragment; the "F" text, however, is primarily "The Butcher Boy" or an "I Wish I Wish" piece of some sort)
  7. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 312-313, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, with local title "Come All Ye Maids and Pretty Fair Maidens"; tune on p. 440)
  8. Brewster 80, "Little Sparrow" (1 text)
  9. Wyman-Brockway I, p. 55 "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Shellans, pp. 26-27, "Constant Sorrow" (1 text, 1 tune, beginning with "Man of Constant Sorrow" but with most of "Fair and Tender Ladies" grafted on at the end)
  11. Lomax-FSUSA 17, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Lomax-FSNA 99, "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune); see also 70, "Love is Pleasin'" (1 text, 1 tune, of four verses, one of which goes here, one belongs with "Waly Waly," and the fourth could be from several sources)
  13. SharpAp 118, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (18 texts, 18 tunes)
  14. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 45, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version)
  15. Cambiaire, p. 61, "O, Waly, Waly" (1 text, clearly mis-titled by Cambiaire [and misfiled by Roud on that basis], since neither the phrase "O Waly Waly" nor "The Water is Wide" are used; the lyrics are entirely consistent with this piece); p. 98, "I Wish I Was A Little Sparrow" (1 single-verse fragment)
  16. Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 185-186, "[Come All Ye Fair]" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Ritchie-Southern, p. 18, "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Abrahams/Foss, pp. 88-89, "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune); p. 145, (no title) (1 tune, partial text)
  19. JHCox 140, "You
  20. Tunney-SongsThunder, p. 160, "The Little Swallow" (1 text)ng Ladies (Little Sparrow)" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  21. PSeeger-AFB, p. 24 "Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
  22. Silber-FSWB, p. 164, "Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies" (1 text)
  23. DT, FAIR&TEN*
  24. Roud #451
  25. BI, R073


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1906 (Belden)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,SE,So) Ireland