Lady Fair – the constancy of true love

Lady Fair is part of a long tradition of songs about men testing the fidelity and constancy of their lovers.

The story usually involves a man returning home after serving abroad in the army or navy for several years. He chances upon his wife or lover and because of the long absence, she doesn’t recognise him.

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He then tests her constancy by asking her to marry him. She usually replies that she cannot marry him because she already has a husband. He tests her further by saying her husband has probably died, or even abandoned her and run off with someone else.

Lady Fair – recorded by Joan Baez and Pete Seeger

This leads to the woman insisting that she still loves her husband and will always be true to him.

Once he hears this, the husband then reveals his true identity and the couple fall into each other’s arms.

Lady Fair has been recorded by Pete Seeger and Judy Collins, but the best known modern version was probably the one by Joan Baez on her Maid of Constant Sorrow album.

The song is presented here in the key of D Minor. Use our key converter to play the song in different keys.

Lady Fair – Lyrics and chords in D Minor


Dm 
Fair young maid all  
G 
in a garden  
Dm 
 
Strange young man, passer
G 
by 
 
 
Dm 
 
He said, “Fair  
F 
maid will you marry me?”
 
This, the
Gm 
n sir, was her reply.  
Dm 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Oh no, kind sir, I cannot marry thee

For I’ve a love who sails all on the sea,

Though he’s been gone for seven years

Still no man shall marry me.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What if he’s in some battle slain

Or drowned in the deep salt sea?

What if he’s found another love

And he and his love both married be?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“If he’s in some battle slain

I will die when the moon doth wane.

If he’s drowned in the deep salt sea

I’ll be true to his memory.

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And if he’s found another love

And he and his love both married be,

I wish them health and happiness

Where they dwell across the sea.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He picked her up all in his arms

And kisses gave her one, two, three,

Saying, “Weep no more, my own true love

I am your long, lost John Reilly.”

Saying, “Weep no more, my own true love

I am your long, lost John Reilly.”

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