“Hind Horn”


Jean gives Hind Horn a ring that will tell him if her love remains true. When the ring fades, he sets out for court disguised as a beggar. He shows her the ring, and her love returns. "The bridegroom has wedded the bride but... Hind Horn took her to bed"


For Bronson's proposed relationship between this song and "The Whummil Bore" [Child 27], see the entry on that piece.

Literary historians have connected this ballad with the thirteenth century romance "King Horn" (who lost his kingdom to Saracens, then won it and his sweetheart back after heroic adventures) -- but if so, there has been a lot of folk processing along the way.

Child mentions the romance, but notes that the ballad contains only the "catastrophe" of the written epic.

The Horn legend found in"King Horn" appears in various forms. "King Horn" itself is listed as "the earliest of the extant romances in [Middle English]" (Bruce Dickins & R. M. Wilson, _Early Middle English Texts_, p. 29), and exists in three manuscripts: Cambridge Univeristy Library Gg.4.27.II (XIII century), Bodleian Laud Misc. 108 (early XIV century), and B.M. Harley 2253 (early XIV century), the latter the famous source of the "Harley Lyrics."

The legend also appears in a French epic, "Horn et Rimel," and there is a second English version, probably of the fourtheenth century, called "Horne Childe."

According to Garnett and Gosse, _English Literature: An Illustrated Record_, volume i, p. 115, "King Horn is another romance with a Scnadinavian groundwork going back to thetime of the expeditions of the Danish Vikings before their conversion to Christianity."

Garnett and Gosse add that it has "no great poetical merit." In support of this we might note that the meter is so irregular that scholars have not even managed to agree on whether it's supposed to be trochaic or iambic!

Several other ballads also derive loosely or from Middle English romance, or from the legends that underly it, examples being:

* "King Orfeo" [Child 19], from "Sir Orfeo" (3 MSS., including the Auchinlek MS, which also contains "Floris and Blancheflour")

* "The Marriage of Sir Gawain" [Child 31], from "The Weddynge of Sir Gawe and Dame Ragnell" (1 defective MS, Bodleian MS Rawlinson C 86)

* "Blancheflour and Jellyflorice" [Child 300], from "Floris and Blancheflour" (4 MSS, including Cambridge Gg.4.27.2, which also contains "King Horn," and the Auchinlek MS, which also contains "Sir Orfeo")

Of these ballads from romances, this is the only one that really seems to have gone solidly in tradition ("Sir Orfeo" came from tradition, but in circumstances that make a minstrel origin a strong possibility).

Child has a very extensive discussion of the relationship between this ballad and the literary romances.

Incidentally, it appears that some of the language of "King Horn" influenced J. R. R. Tolkien. - RBW

Same tune

  • The Bird's Courting Song (The Hawk and the Crow; Leatherwing Bat) (File: K295)

Cross references


  • Edmund Doucette, "The Old Beggar Man" (on MREIves01)


  1. Child 17, "Hind Horn" (9 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #23}
  2. Bronson 17, "Hind Horn" (23 versions plus 2 in addenda)
  3. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 73-80, "Hind Horn" (1 text (with two variant forms) plus a fragment, 2 tunes); pp. 479-481 (additional notes and fragments) {Bronson's #4, #5}
  4. Flanders/Olney, pp. 47-48, "Hind Horn" (1 short text, properly titled "The Jolly Beggar," which might be "Hind Horn" [Shild #17] or "The Jolly Beggar" [Child #279] or a mix; 1 tune) {Bronson's #18}
  5. Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 223-225, "Hind Horn" (1 short text, properly titled "The Jolly Beggar," which might be "Hind Horn" [Shild #17] or "The Jolly Beggar" [Child #279] or a mix; 1 tune) {Bronson's #18}
  6. Creighton/Senior, pp. 11-17, "Hind Horn" (3 texts plus 2 fragment, 3 tunes) {C=Bronson's #17, E=#22}
  7. Creighton-Maritime, p. 5, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Greenleaf/Mansfield 5, "The Beggarman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #21}
  9. Karpeles-Newfoundland 4, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #2}
  10. Ives-DullCare, pp. 72-73,246,252, "The Old Beggar Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Manny/Wilson 55, "The Old Beggar Man (Hind Horn)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Leach, pp. 96-100, "Hind Horn" (2 texts)
  13. OBB 35, "Hynd Horn" (1 text)
  14. Niles 12, "Hind Horn" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a single stanza which might be this ballad -- but could be something else)
  15. Gummere, pp. 260-262+357, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
  16. DBuchan 44, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
  17. HarvClass-EP1, pp. 59-61, "Hind Horn" (1 text)
  19. Roud #28
  20. BI, C017


Alternate titles: “The Pale Ring”; “The Jeweled Ring”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1825 (Motherwell)
Keywords: magic love wedding
Found in: US(NE) Britain(England(South),Scotland) Canada(Mar,Newf)