“The Magdalene's Lament”


"As I cam in by Tanzie's wood... Four-and-twenty o' Geordie's men Kiss'd me against my will." The girl recalls flirting happily in a tavern, "But now I'm in the correction-house And whipped to my turn." She hopes to be released and marry


Traditional? I don't know. Kinloch of course does not list sources.

The term "Magdalene" for a reformed prostitute is of course a reference to the Biblical Mary Magdalene ("maudlin"). But while Mary of Magdala was a follower of Jesus, from whom he "cast seven demons" (Mark 16:9), there is no reason to think she had formerly been a prostitute; Luke 7:37-50 describes a reformed prostitute wiping Jesus's feet with her hair, but never calls her Mary. John 12:1-8 has Mary wipe his feet -- but this is Mary of Bethany, not Mary of Magdala!

Not that this matters; while Kinloch calls the song "The Magdalene's Lament," the word "magdalene" is not used in the song. - RBW.


  1. Kinloch-BBook III, pp. 12-13, "The Magdalene's Lament" (1 text)
  2. Roud #8153
  3. BI, KinBB03


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1827 (Kinloch)
Found in: Britain(Scotland)