Sad Love Songs for Voice:
Molly Bawn

Sad love songs such as Molly Bawn (or Molly Ban) draw voice students to work hard to be expressive.

Young girls seem to be fascinated by the words and the mood of Molly Bawn; the song tells a story with such clear imagery: a young hunter, a swan, the white apron, the rain shower, the bush... and Molly Bawn going to her uncle's.

I am such a softy that occasionally I still am overcome by tears even as I sit at the piano, instructing a voice student.

Here is my simple arrangement.  I offer it here in three keys:

English ballad Molly Bawn free sheet music

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

I first fell in love with this sad song when I heard Alison Kraus sing it (on her CD  A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection) ... my simple 2-chord accompaniment attempts to capture some of the feeling of the arrangement used in her recording. 

Molly Bawn has a range of only an octave plus one note, yet learning the melody requires a bit of work for beginning singers.

Just like a real story, each verse has words with different syllables, and the accent or emphasis will shift about. This is hard for young singers who are used to regular, metrical phrases.

So in order to sing this song convincingly, singers must go over and over each verse to craft it, allowing the emphasis of the words to match the musical emphasis, especially on beat one.

The arrangement of the notes-to-words that I have here is only a match-up of the notes to verse one.

Alison Kraus sings Molly Bawn in a fairly low key, but some of my students have not been able to give the melody power down in a low register, so for them, I use a slightly higher setting to take advantage of a their voices.

The main thing when singing this song is for the audience to actually be able to follow the story, so the words need to have clarity and volume!

This is a very simple arrangement of this song; I actually tend to embellish the chords here when I accompany students, filling in missing chord tones in the right hand, softly touching higher notes and octaves, playing lots of open 5ths in accord with the feeling of this folk tune.

But if you understand how to use chords, you can already do this... if you don't do it easily, then an arrangement such as is written here will probably be more welcome to you!


I hope this song brings some heart-felt drama into your students' music-making! 





The links to the vocal music:


Download sad love songs Molly Bawn in A position 


Download free printable vocal sheet music Molly Bawn in C position


Download free vocal sheet music Molly Ban in D position 





More Folk Songs to Sing:


All the Pretty Little Horses - a soft and repetitious lullaby, quite pretty


Colorado Trail Song - an American tune written by a real cowboy


Come By the Hills - another popular Irish melody


Down By the Salley Gardens - a famous and pretty song, very sweet 


Green Bushes - a brisk little song that is pretty while being good for breath control training


Grenadier and the Lady - my favorite folk song of all.  Find out why


Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier - very beautiful, very moving, and a chance for your young singer to learn how to let her voice soar


Keegan's Waltz - this is a traditional Gaelic tune, but the lyrics are very new, supplied by a visitor to this site!


Lavender's Blue - this simple song is not only satisfying for beginning pianists, but also young singers who need to focus on basics.  With a lovely piano accompaniment.


Loch Lomond - the famous and sad song about never meeting again


Mari's Wedding - a singable tune with bouncy chords that is fun to play or sing


Minstrel Boy - a lovely and patriotic song about a warrior-poet


Molly Bawn - a sad story of a young hunter who thought he was shooting at a swan


Once I Had a Sweetheart - "but now I have none!" Very pretty, and little-known.


Parting Glass - a well-known Irish tune which my singers always love


Scarborough Fair - an old and famous tune of lost love


She Moved Through the Fair - this sounds happy, but it is actually a bit of a love story, and a bit of a ghost story!


Shenandoah - a famous and lovely American tune with ambiguous lyrics


Skye Boat Song - a pretty song from Scotland about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea


Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - BOYS like singing it too!


The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this Irish song is fun to perform with a group


Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece


Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids


The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!


White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students










Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.