Brown Robyn's Confession [Child 57]

DESCRIPTION: Brown Robyn and his men go to sea and meet a fierce storm. They cast lots to learn who is to blame, and Brown Robyn himself is thrown overboard. He sees the Virgin Mary, who offers to let him come to heaven or return to his men. He chooses heaven
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE:
KEYWORDS: ship crime sea storm religious incest
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Child 57, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
Bronson (57) [Brown Robin's Confession], comments only with tunes for "Captain Glen"
OBB 21, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
PBB 8, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
Gummere, pp. 142-143+331, "Brown Robyne's Confession" (1 text)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B)" [Laws K22]
Notes: This appears to be the only legitimate ballad that supports the doctrine of Justification by Faith. It is rather odd to find such a thing in Presbyterian Scotland. - RBW
 

BROWN ROBYN'S CONFESSION

1 IT fell upon a Wodensday
Brown Robyn's men went to sea,
But they saw neither moon nor sun,
Nor starlight wi their ee.

2 'We'll cast kevels us amang,
See wha the unhappy man may be;'
The kevel fell on Brown Robyn,
The master-man was he.

3 'It is nae wonder,' said Brown Robyn,
'Altho I dinna thrive,
For wi my mither I had twa bairns,
And wi my sister five.

4 'But tie me to a plank o wude,
And throw me in the sea;
And if I sink, ye may bid me sink,
But if I swim, just let me bee.'

5 They've tyed him to a plank o wude,
And thrown him in the sea;
He didna sink, tho they bade him sink;
He swimd, and they bade lat him bee.

6 He hadna been into the sea
An hour but barely three,
Till by it came Our Blessed Lady,
Her dear young son her wi.

7 'Will ye gang to your men again,
Or will ye gang wi me?
Will ye gang to the high heavens,
Wi my dear son and me ?'

8 'I winna gang to my men again,
For they would be feared at mee;
But I woud gang to the high heavens,
Wi thy dear son and thee.'

9 'It's for nae honour ye did to me, Brown Robyn,
It's for nae guid ye did to mee;
But a' is for your fair confession
You've made upon the sea.'
 
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
21. Brown Robyn’s Confession
 
 
I


IT fell upon a Wadensday

 
  Brown Robyn’s men went to sea;  
But they saw neither moon nor sun  
  Nor starlight wi’ their e’e.  
 
II


‘We’ll cast kevels us amang;

        5
  See wha the man may be.’—  
The kevel fell on Brown Robyn,  
  The master-man was he.  
 
III


‘It is nae wonder,’ said Brown Robyn,

 
  ‘Altho’ I dinna thrive;         10
[For at hame I murder’d my ain father—  
  I would he were on live.]  
 
IV


‘But tie me to a plank o’ wude,

 
  And throw me in the sea;  
And if I sink, ye may bid me sink,         15
  But if I swim, let be.’  
 
V


They’ve tied him to a plank o’ wude

 
  And thrown him in the sea;  
He didna sink, tho’ they bade him sink,  
  He swim’d, and they bade let be.         20
 
VI


He hadna been into the sea

 
  An hour but barely three,  
Till by it came Our Blessed Ladie  
  Her dear young son her wi’.  
 
VII


‘Will ye gang to your men again,

        25
  ‘Or will ye gang wi’ me?  
Will ye gang to the high heavens  
  Wi’ my dear son and me?’—  
 
VIII


‘I winna gang to my men again,

 
  For they would be fear’d at me;         30
But I would gang to the high heavens,  
  Wi’ thy dear son and thee.’  
 
IX


‘It’s for nae honour ye did, Brown Robyn,

 
  It’s for nae gude ye did to me;  
But a’ is for your fair confession         35
  You’ve made upon the sea.’  
 
GLOSS:  kevels] lots.