Matty Groves is an English folk ballad that describes an adulterous tryst between a man and a woman that is ended when the woman's husband discovers and kills them.
It dates to at least the 17th century, and is one of the Child Ballads collected by 19th-century American scholar Francis James Child. It has several variant names, including Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard.
Krysty described it as "... an old ballad, from way, way back before sky-dark. About a baron who catches his young wife making love with another man. He bursts in on them his wife and this Matty Grovesand he's got all his sec men with him. And he threatens him. Says they should have a fair fight. It's not howver, but he says 'In England it shall not be said I slew a sleeping man.' But Matty Groves doesn't have a chance. He gets chilled, but the wife turns on her husband and says they're all through."
Lady Arlen (other names include Daniel, Arnold, Donald, and Barnard), entices Matty Groves (or Little Musgrave), a servant or retainer of her husband, into an adulterous affair. Lord Arlen receives word of the betrayal; in some versions a foot-page hears them planning and warns Lord Arlen; the lord promises reward if he is telling the truth – to make him his heir, or marry him to his eldest daughter – and execution if he is lying.
The nobleman returns home, where he surprises the lovers in bed. The death may be put off by Matty arguing for a weapon. Lord Arlen kills Matty Groves in a duel. When his wife spurns him and expresses a preference for her lover, even in death, over her husband, he stabs her through the heart.
The ballad may end there, or with the lord's death, by suicide or execution. Yet another version has him cutting off his wife's head and kicking it against the wall in anger.
Some versions of the ballad include elements of an alba, a poetic form in which lovers part after spending a night together.
Doc Tanner remarked that the way Krysty sang the ballad was the best he'd heard, including