Lady of the Rose

This song was first performed at the Ladies of the Rose Happy Hour at Pennsic 42 in the summer of 2013, hosted by Queen Líadain of Æthelmearc. The song had been composed specially for the event, and was featured in the “Heather Dale and Friends” concert later that day. (Note: A lyric change was made to the refrains in 2018.)

Drake Lady

Performing the song at the 2015 Pennsic concert. Left to right: Baroness Gwendolyn the Graceful, Kirsa Miese, Drake, Lady Olivia Baker, and THL Faye de Trees. Photo credit: Suzan Longo.


Lady of the Rose © 2013 by Eric Schrager

What is this game that you’ve stumbled upon?
Is it fairy-tale or history?
Armor and weapons and courtly intrigue–
Well, perhaps you’ve found where you belong.

Now there’s a stir from the end of the hall–
As the crowd parts before her you see,
Everyone bowing as they greet the Queen,
And she’s radiant, gracious and strong…

This is a role someone asked her to play,
What would that be like, do you suppose?
Blooming in sunlight* to fullest display,
Everyone smiles and admires when they look on a rose…

Suddenly you’re sitting next to a Queen,
As you watch your man fighting for crown.
Talk to him briefly between every bout
To make sure that his head’s in the game.

Push back your nerves, and make certain to smile,
You’re a heartbeat away from renown.
And, there it is! Yes, they all saw the blow!
And now things never will be the same…

This is a role that you’re destined to play,
All because you’re the woman he chose.
Bloom in the sunlight* to fullest display,
Everyone smiles–when they look at you, they see a rose…

Hail the Crown Princess! And now it begins,
For you want to live up to that name.
Don’t drop the scepter–or trip on the dress…
You keep watching to learn what to do.

Her Majesty smiles and says you’re doing fine,
For no two Queens are ever the same.
Only be true to who you really are
And she’s certain you’ll find your way through…

Is this a role that you’re ready to play?
For you’ve noticed each season it grows.
Bloom in the sunlight to fullest display,
Everyone smiles if they can’t see the thorns on the rose…

What does it mean that they call you a Queen?
It means endlessly planning details.
All eyes are on you wherever you go,
So be part of it! Join in the fun.

Give recognition for what people do,
Be the wind that will fill up their sails.
Courtesy always–the standard is you!
It seems endless, but soon ’twill be done…

This is a role that you wanted to play,
And your work, if it’s good, never shows.
Bloom in the sunlight to fullest display,
Everyone smiles and applauds as they hand you your rose…

Now there’s a new Queen who stands where you stood,
And you’ve time for yourself once again.
Still, as a Countess or Duchess, you learn
That things aren’t as they used to be…

You still must carry yourself like a Queen,
Though no longer the burden of reign.
Now you must listen more often than speak,
And give comfort when you see the need…

This is a role that you’ll never not play,
And perhaps you grow stiff from the pose.
Bloom in the sunlight to fullest display,
Everyone smiles when they see a Lady of the Rose…

This is a role that you always shall play,
And you’re one of the handful who knows.
Bloom in the sunlight to fullest display,
Everyone smiles and admires a Lady of the Rose…
Everyone smiles and admires a Lady of the Rose.


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Chords

Verse:
G       C       G       C
G       C       Am  C   D

G       C       G       C
G       C       Am  C   D

Chorus 1-3:
F       G       C   D   G
F       G
C   G   Am  C   D

Chorus 5:
F       G       C   D   G
F       G
C   G   Am  C   D       D7

F       G       C   D   G
F       G
C   G   Am  C   D       D7
(rit.)
C   G   Am  D   G   C   G

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Footnote: Lyric change

The original refrains to the song (used on the recording and all videos made before mid-2018) use the line “Open your petals to fullest display” (or, in the first refrain, “Op’ning her petals to fullest display”). After performing the song at Kings & Queens Bardic Champions in February 2018, a Lady of the Rose I’ve known a while shared with me that the line about petals made her deeply uncomfortable, and spoiled her enjoyment of a song that she otherwise loved. The request to “open petals” suggested an invasive sexuality to her, and in 2018, amid the #MeToo movement, I realized that I could not ignore this feedback. The image had appealed to me greatly, making the rose image central to the refrain, while also hinting at the vulnerability that is implicitly demanded being a public figure like a Rose…but impact trumps intent, and if someone I cared about so deeply could not enjoy the song with this lyric in it, I needed to find a replacement. I was initially concerned that it would be difficult to find a lyric that worked as well, but “Bloom in the sunlight” came to me almost immediately, and adds an element of vitality to the line that I think works as well or better than the original lyric. This is the only version of this song that I will perform going forward, and I invite anyone else who performs it to use the revised lyric as well.


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Notes

The Order of the Rose is a Peerage order for those who have reigned as Consort in an SCA Kingdom. (It is a polled order, meaning that the current members evaluate each Consort who is not yet in the order to determine that they has ruled in a manner appropriate to be inducted at the end of their reign. While the Order is now understood to be gender neutral, the composition is overwhelmingly female. Male Roses do exist, and I look forward to meeting one.)

In the fall of 2012, I was introduced to Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh, Crown Princess of Æthelmearc, and performed for her. She was sufficiently pleased by my performance (and my wife Jessa’s truffles) that she requested we provide entertainment and refreshment at the Ladies of the Rose Happy Hour at Pennsic the following summer (at which time Liadain would be Queen). On the way home from receiving the invitation, Jess brilliantly suggested that I should compose a song honoring the Ladies of the Rose, since I had lots of lead time before Pennsic 42.

The research for the song consisted of consulting three actual Ladies of the Rose that were in my and Jess’s acquaintance (as you’ll see below, Jess’s connections were key to this), and interviewing them about their experience of the monarchy.

  1. Duchess Rowan de la Garnison, who ruled twice as Queen of the East with the late Duke Morguhn Sheridan, in 1985 and 1988. She is one of Jess’s two Scadian “moms”.
  2. Duchess Meirwen uerch Owein, who ruled twice has Queen of Æthelmearc, also with Morguhn, in 1995 and 1996, Jess’s other Scadian “mom”.
  3. Countess Thyra Eiriksdottir, who had been Queen of the East Kingdom (and whom I met and performed for the same day as Líadain). I waited until her decoronation the following spring, then asked for her observations, which I knew would give me a fresh perspective.

From the three women, I was delighted to receive three completely different takes on the experience of being a Scadian queen. I trusted this would allow me to create a song with a more universal resonance and a richer truth once I incorporated the different perspectives into one narrative.

I will share as a footnote that Jess and I attended Líadain’s decoronation in fall 2013. As parting gifts, we gave her a music box with punched paper which plays the “Lady of the Rose” tune (decorated by Jess), and I sang her and her lord the song to mark the occasion.

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