Emily Nyman Music

Songs for Anne Lister Fans - When Laura Johansen (Calderdale Cultural Destinations) asked if she could use my interpretation of "Ballad for M" as part of the 180th anniversary of Anne's death/ commemoration event, my response was an enthusiatic "Yes."  So I got to work and produced studio recordings of "Ballad for the Ball" as well as an original follow-up song "After the Ball." I also created video recordings of the songs. And now I am adding this page to ensure easy access to the music so that it will continue to inspire our community, just as Anne would have wanted it.  Thanks for stopping by.

Emily Nyman
Being a singer-songwriter and also an Anne Lister fan, I was thrilled to discover her 1824 journal entry with "Ballad for M", 12 stanzas, and a notated melody line. So I said to my wife Lynn, "Hey, Anne wrote a song...it needs to be sung." So began the collaboration across the universe and time as I alternated between adding chords to go with the melody, working on the phrasing of the lyrics, and looking to the sky on occasion and saying aloud, "Anne, I hope this was your musical intent for this line....with a major chord behind it..." and other such phrases. When I finished the arrangement, I made a basic recording and was so excited to share the song, I put the basic recording on soundcloud and shared it on the Lister Sisters off topic facebook site. Many folks responded with likes, so that was nice...but I knew I wasn't done...

I have been writing songs with Lynn for the past 25 years, and we are always looking for ways to use music to inspire and instill hope, so it was only natural that we write the followup song "After the Ball" which has become our celebratory anthem for the community and a tribute to Anne.  So take a look at the lyric pages below with introduction and background information. Then give a listen to the songs (soundcloud links below) and the videos (which will be posted soon). 

You may also check out our other albums on the products page of this website :)

“Ballad for M” and “Ballad for the Ball” background information: “Ballad for the Ball” is an appropriation of “Ballad for M” (see Anne Lister’s journal entry of January 23, 1824***). As the story goes, Anne shared the “Ballad for M” lyrics with her occasional lover (“M”) via letter which fell into the hands of “M’s” husband who subsequently assumed and shared the lyrics as if they were written by “M” …which amused M and Anne very much. While the initial ballad’s title and inclusion in a letter to M may suggest that the song was for and about “M”, it also describes the role of the “Ball” as it relates to the societal expectations of the time (potential bride/groom pairings and emphasis on male-owned estates). The “Ballad for the Ball” was arranged and recorded by Emily Nyman and Lynn Berry in Nov 2019. Arrangement notes: “So as not to shortchange the lyricist, ALL of Anne’s verses from the journal entry/letter were included (12 stanzas!) with only minor word changes (in italics), staying true to original rhyme scheme and meter; We rearranged the order of two stanzas (noted in italics) so that the beginning of each verse repeats the theme of “come listen to my song”. Following the melody line closely and in its original key (key of G in a low alto range), accompanying chords are those she may have used if playing a chordal instrument of the time. The initial recording is “unplugged” in nature, with just a lead vocal accompanied by the oldest piano in our house – a 1927 Knabe baby grand. We very much enjoyed the opportunity to “collaborate” with Anne and to be able to share the song with her fans. We continued this “fun” with a follow-up song “After the Ball”, so please be sure to check that out too.

Thanks. Emily and Lynn.”

Ballad for the Ball (inspired by the writings of Anne Lister, 1824; arranged by E. Nyman and L. Berry ©2020 as public domain derivative work)


(Verse 1)

Both old and young come listen all

Come listen all to me;

There’s jovial cheer at Ald’ley hall

For high and low degree.


There’s bonney lads them lassies say

That talk is frank and free

They’ve come of age this very day,

And happy may they be.


Good luck and honour them be tide

To man’s estate upgrown,

Their mother’s joy, their father’s pride,

And lov’d by all they’re known!


(Verse 2)

Come listen all unto my song,

Ye quality that’s here,

And poor folk too, God bless sir John,

And all he loves most dear.


And you, fair lady, mistress vare

Of all his rich domain!

For God will hear the poor man’s prayer,  

and pay you all again.


For many years, this noble hall

We’ve had right cause to pray

From father’s estate to son may fall,

And Stanleys all be they.


(Verse 3)*

I’m but a ballad singer now.

Great folks look down on me;

But better hearts ha’nt high than low,

To bless old Alderly.


Right on for now for many a year,

As prosperous may it stand;

As well respected far and near,

As any hall its land.


Thro’ all ye land my blood can run

I’d better veins than theirs;

And when old folks be dead and done,

As good may be the heirs.


(Verse 4)**

Come join ye all there, in my song

Our hearts all wish ye the same

That health, and wealth, and life be long

To all the Stanley name.


And now we all must separate,

Such days to see no more,

Let many others celebrate,

As we have done before!


God bless them all both young and old

And all this merry set!

For many times it shall be told

A merrier never met.

*moved “thro’ all ye land” stanza down to refrain section. **moved “and now we all must separate” down to next stanza.

***Anne Lister’s Journal Entry - 23 January 1824 (writing is what M said to Anne about the Ball at Alderly Hall, including M’s description of the sequence of events surrounding Charles’s reading a “ballad” he assumed to be written by M when in fact it was Anne’s writing):

“M— hears it went off very well. My notices for her friend, the bell-man, were useful. C—, fancying the ballad for the occasion her own, ‘declared they were the best verses he had ever read. By George, he would have one & sing it himself… he tells everybody of what a capital song I wrote… I can’t help smiling to think how prejudice carries us away. If I had told him they came from you, he would have thrown them away as trash, & rather rejoiced in the circumstance that had prevented their being sung.”

After the Ball” background information: “With all we have learned about Anne and her life, we were compelled to hypothesize what she may have written in a follow up song for the ladies who found themselves unfulfilled by the “Ball” and the implications regarding their role in life. So…to “finish the thought”, we wrote verses for “After the Ball”. Intentionally inclusive of elements of Anne’s melody and lyric structure from “Ballad for M” (Jan 23, 1824 journal entry), “After the Ball” extends beyond the initial, traditional “Ball” scene of the 1820’s to instill hope and strength in those who find they don’t fit in to the cultural norms and expectations within which they live. Encouraging and celebratory in its language/theme, “After the Ball” aspires to be both an anthem and a tribute to Anne’s spirited, courageous, and kind nature. Just as we did with “Ballad for the Ball”, this initial recording of “After the Ball” is “unplugged” in nature, with just a lead vocal accompanied by the oldest piano in our house – a 1927 Knabe baby grand. Throughout this process, we took great delight in collaborating with Anne (across the universe) and singing “her” song, as do we in the sharing of it. Thanks. Emily and Lynn”    

After the Ball ©2020 E. Nyman & L. Berry

Inspired by the writings of Anne Lister, songwriters Emily Nyman and Lynn Berry created “After the Ball” as a response to/continuation of Lister’s “Ballad for M”/ “Ballad for the Ball” (see Lister journal entry Jan 23, 1824; also “Ballad for the Ball” appropriation by E. Nyman and L. Berry).

Introduction Verse

Two centuries have come and gone

still damsels are in distress

In a world that’s always cold at dawn

All ladies need warm caress.


So, from the grave I reach beyond

For all who need embrace.

I send my love with words and song,

Through endless time and space.


Now this mortal lady will sing my song

With a brand-new verse to share

Thank God my writing still lives on

For ladies everywhere.



Ladies go to soiree socials

Only to leave dismayed

By shallow husband hopefuls

In pompous serenade.


No academic interplay                                                               

No heartfelt poetry

(For) Tabulation of the dowry

Takes precedence, you see.


Cry not fair ladies’ discontent,

There’s more to life than Balls

You shall have a love well spent

At your very own Shibden Hall.




So join this seasoned pioneer

The future’s bright and crystal clear

Together we will persevere

We’ll rise above the hate and fear.



We’ll open up our hearts to love

And just be who we are

We shall find our own true love

And kiss under the stars

True love is here and dignified

With blessings from above

Now in joyful tears we cry

And give ourselves to love.

Audio tracks for Ballad for the Ball and After the Ball are only available on soundcloud at the moment, so here are the links.  The Ballad for the Ball is the latest studio recording. After the Ball studio version will be available soon. 



UPDATE July 2021 Video links are now available for both songs and include introductory commentary (see below)

Anne Lister: Celebrating Her Legacy – Broadcast on September 22, 2020 – includes Ballad for the Ball audio during the wreath laying.  Note - be sure to start at the beginning of the video and enjoy the entire program.


Blog with background info and link to full length video of Ballad for the Ball (note - you may have to copy and past link address into a new window first):


JULY 2021 UPDATE: I am finally posting the link to my home performance of After the Ball which includes an introduction: 

and here is the introduction and a verse from Ballad for the Ball:

and here is the the full length version of Ballad for the Ball:

Blog with background info and link to full length video of Ballad for the Ball: