Changeling

“Changeling” was written in November 2012. It had its debut at the 2013 Queen’s Meadhall in Carolingia.

In 2014, the song won Baroness Morgan Wolfsinger’s third annual Pennsic Depressing Song Competition, the second time I won that competition. (“The Bastard’s Tale” had previously tied for first place.)


Changeling © 2012 by Eric Schrager

(2nd and 4th lines repeat in each verse)

Beltane has fallen, Fair Folk, hear me true.
[Jewel I held at my breast.]
Hither from Elf-Hame I beckon to you.
[O how I weep without rest.]

I bore a babe and he filled me with joy.
One night your people made off with my boy.

Once he was laughing and calling to me.
In our house now sits his shape, but not he.

Wailing or silent, but never he talks.
Beats at his head as he thrashes and rocks.

Coax though I might, he will not meet my eye.
I house your changeling. I beg of you, why?

Need you a man-child who’s clever and kind?
Some other servant I know you could find.

Naught say you, Fair Folk? Your meaning is plain.
He’s et your food, I’ll not see him again.

Treat my son well, and I’ll make you a vow.
[Jewel I held at my breast.]
I’ll love this changeling as best I know how.
[Mayhap we both may find rest.]

I’ll love this changeling as best I know how.
[Mayhap we both may find rest.]


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Chords

Em    Am    G     D
Em    C     Bm    B
Em    Am    G     D
Am    Bm    Em    Bm

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Notes

“Changeling” draws on a number of sources.

  1. It draws once more on my love of Faery lore. I must (not for the last time) express my gratitude to Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer here, as she took such care to explain to unfamiliar readers (as I was back in 1990) the relationships that existed between elves and humans, the laws that governed mortal existence in Elfland, and the fearful respect mortal folk took around them even to the point of referring to them by collective name. She managed all of this without ever bogging her tale down in exposition, so that I knew by the time Thomas had his fateful encounter with the Elf Queen some of what he was getting into.
  2. The modest research I’ve done into medieval folklore since being introduced to it, and my interest in examining the unhappy realities that were often blamed on the “Fair Folk” by people who had no better explanation for what had befallen them or their families.
  3. It is one of my most personal songs to date. Like the Rhymer of the novel, I know well what it means to be different, and to wonder what is at the root of my poor fit in the social fabric. Becoming a parent has brought that home to me even more deeply, and I wanted to create a scene that would resonate with parents who have had to recalibrate their expectations.
  4. This is my first attempt to incorporate authentic period forms into a song, in this case, the “interleaved” 2nd and 4th line refrain.
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