“Ye Guardian Powers (Nancy Wilson)”


"Ye guardian powers that rule above, And know how fondly I do love, God grant to ease my tottering pain...." The girl's love has been banished by his father's command. She grieves and laments his absence at length


Randolph quotes Ozark folklore to the effect that this piece was written by a girl named Nancy Wilson "who committed suicide near Frankfort, Ky., in the early years of the nineteenth century."

One informant gave the story in even more detail: Nancy Wilson, an orphan, was hired by a wealthy family as a servant. The son of the household fell in love with her; the parents disapproved of the match. When he slept with her, they sent him away. She wrote this poem, then hanged herself. He came home for her, and hanged himself when he learned she was dead. Naturally, disasters followed for the family.

One can only suspect that this story is derived from a few dozen other similar ballads, e.g. "The Silver Dagger (I)" [Laws G21] - RBW


  1. Randolph 753, "Ye Guardian Powers" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 511-513, "Ye Guardian Powers" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 753A)
  3. Roud #7397
  4. BI, R753


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Randolph)
Keywords: love separation father
Found in: US(So)