From the recording Matty Groves
17th century traditional Border ballad, "Matty Groves" medleyed with instrumental "Tamlin" is an age-old tale of betrayal and "murder most foul." The Ravens enjoy performing this song in a storytelling style- each taking on the role of one of the characters and joining in on the narrator parts.
A holiday, a holiday, and the first one of the year
Lord Arlen's wife came to the church, the gospel for to hear.
And when the meeting it was done, she cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves, walking in the crowd.
"Come home with me, little Matty Groves, come home with me tonight
Come home with me, little Matty Groves, and sleep with me till light."
"Oh, I can't come home, I won't come home and sleep with you tonight.
By the rings on your fingers, I can tell you are Lord Arlen's wife."
"But if I am Lord Arlen's wife, Lord Arlen's not at home He
is out in the far cornfields bringing the yearlings home."
A servant who was standing by and hearing what was said.
He swore Lord Arlen he would know before the sun would set.
And in his hurry to carry the news, he filled his breast and ran.
When he came to the broad millstream, he took off his shoes and swam.
Little Matty Groves, he lay down and took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Arlen was standing at his feet.
Saying "How do you like my feather bed and how do you like my sheets
How do you like my lady who lies in your arms asleep?"
"Oh, well I like your feather bed and well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady who lies in my arms asleep!"
"Well, get up, get up, " Lord Arlen cried, "get up as quick as you can
It'll never be said in fair England that I slew a naked man!"
"Oh, I can't get up, I won't get up, I can't get up for my life
For you have two long beaten swords and I but a pocket knife!"
"Well it's true I have two beaten swords and they cost me deep in the purse
But you will have the better of them and I will have the worse
And you will strike the very first blow and strike it like a man
I will strike the very next blow and I'll kill you if I can."
So Matty struck the very first blow and he hurt Lord Arlen sore
Lord Arlen struck the very next blow and Matty struck no more.
And then Lord Arlen took his wife and he sat her on his knee
Saying "Who do you like the best of us, Matty Groves or me?"
And then up spoke his own dear wife, never heard to speak so free
"I'd rather a kiss one dead Matty's lips than you or your finery."
Lord Arlen, he jumped up and loudly he did bawl
He struck his wife right through the heart and pinned her against the wall!
"A grave, a grave, " Lord Arlen cried, "to put these lovers in
But bury my lady at the top for she was of noble kin...bury my lady at the top for she was of noble kin."