Humor Urban Legends The Mistletoe Bough Share PINTEREST Email Print Hulton Archive/Getty Images Urban Legends Classic & Historic Legends Urban Legends in the News Rumors & Hoaxes Animal Folklore Scary Stories By David Emery David Emery is an internet folklore expert, and debunker of urban legends, hoaxes, and popular misconceptions. He currently writes for Snopes.com. our editorial process David Emery Updated March 06, 2019 "The Mistletoe Bough," lyrics by Thomas Haynes Bayly, music by Sir Henry Bishop, is a ballad composed around 1830 retelling a traditional tale about a newlywed bride who accidentally locks herself in an old oak trunk while playing hide-and-seek with members of her wedding party, who then spend a long night searching for her in vain. History of the Poem Though the legend on which it was based had undoubtedly been circulating for quite some time before the lyrics were written, it's thought that the direct inspiration for Bayly's rendition was "Ginevra" from Samuel Rogers' Italy, a Poem, published in 1822. Also known by the titles "The Mistletoe Bride," "The Missing Bride," "The Lost Bride," and "Bride-and-Seek," versions of the age-old story are still told and sung today. The Mistletoe Bough The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,The holly branch shone on the old oak wall;And the baron's retainers were blithe and gay,And keeping their Christmas holiday.The baron beheld with a father's prideHis beautiful child, young Lovell's bride;While she with her bright eyes seemed to beThe star of the goodly company.Oh, the mistletoe bough.Oh, the mistletoe bough. "I'm weary of dancing now," she cried;"Here, tarry a moment — I'll hide, I'll hide!And, Lovell, be sure thou'rt first to traceThe clew to my secret lurking-place."Away she ran — and her friends beganEach tower to search, and each nook to scan;And young Lovell cried, "O, where dost thou hide?I'm lonesome without thee, my own dear bride."Oh, the mistletoe bough.Oh, the mistletoe bough. They sought her that night, and they sought her next day,And they sought her in vain while a week passed away;In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,Young Lovell sought wildly — but found her not.And years flew by, and their grief at lastWas told as a sorrowful tale long past;And when Lovell appeared the children cried,"See! the old man weeps for his fairy bride."Oh, the mistletoe bough.Oh, the mistletoe bough. At length an oak chest, that had long lain hid,Was found in the castle — they raised the lid,And a skeleton form lay mouldering thereIn the bridal wreath of that lady fair!O, sad was her fate! — in sportive jestShe hid from her lord in the old oak chest.It closed with a spring! — and, dreadful doom,The bride lay clasped in her living tomb!Oh, the mistletoe bough.Oh, the mistletoe bough.