One possible source for the dying hero of the ancient Anglo-Scottish border ballad Lord Randall
, cast (like Loewe’s Edward
) as a dialogue between mother and son, is Randolph, 6th Earl of Chester (d 1232). His murderer may have been his lover, his wife, or, as one Scottish source has it, a disguised fairy who had lured him when he stumbled by accident into the sacred greenwood. Cyril Scott’s 1926 arrangement vividly dramatizes the traditional tune, with sweetly curdled harmonies to suggest the venom seeping through Lord Randall’s veins (‘O I fear ye are poisoned’), and acrid dissonances at the climax as he bequeaths a ‘rope from hell’ to his ‘true love’.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011