“The False Bride (The Week Before Easter; I Once Loved a Lass)”


The singer reports that the woman he once loved is going to be wed to another. He mopes around in various ways -- e.g. looking for flowers out of season. His friends fail to lift his spirits. He declares his intent to die in hopes of forgetting her


Some versions (for example, "I Loved A Lass" on SCMacCollSeeger01) include a verse close to Opie-Oxford2 318, "A man in the wilderness asked me": "A man in the wilderness asked me, How many strawberries grow in the sea? I answered him, as I thought good, As many as red herrings grow in the wood" (earliest date in Opie-Oxford2 is 1716). [Also in Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #142, p. 114. - RBW]

Is it significant that this verse is not in any of the printed versions that I consulted: Peacock, Karpeles-Newfoundland, Bodleian broadsides or Greig _Folk-Song of the North-East_ 24? - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(83a), "The Forlorn Lover" ("A week before Easter"), F. Coles (London), 1663-1674; also Douce Ballads 3(32a), "The Forlorn Lover"
  • NLScotland, R.B.m.143(128), "It Was Not My Fortune To Get Her," Poet's Box (Dundee), c. 1890


  • Harry Burgess, "A Week Before Easter" (on Voice15)
  • Bob Copper, "The False Bride" (on FSB1)
  • Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, "I Loved a Lass" (on SCMacCollSeeger01)
  • Sarah Makem, "I Courted a Wee Girl" (on Voice01)


  1. Meredith/Anderson, pp. 187-188, "I Think by This Time He's Forgot Her" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Kennedy 152, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Ord, p. 175, "It Wasna My Fortune to Get Her" (1 text)
  4. OLochlainn 86, "The Lambs on the Green Hills" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Peacock, pp. 441-442, "The False Maiden" (1 text, 2 tunes)
  6. Karpeles-Newfoundland 31, "The False Bride" (2 texts, 3 tunes)
  7. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 37, "The False Bride" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BBI, ZN2765, "A week before Easter"; ZN2766, "The week before Easter"
  10. Roud #154
  11. BI, K152


Alternate titles: “The Forlorn Lover”; “I Ainse Loved a Lass”; “I Loved a Lass”; “The Week Before Easter”; “Three Weeks Before Easter”; “Six Weeks Before Easter”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1675 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(83a)); also printed in the reign of James II (1685-1688)
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Aber),England(South,Lond)) Ireland Canada(Newf) Australia