Birks of Invermay (The)

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X:1 T:Birks of Endermay, The M:C L:1/8 N:”For the German Flute” B:Thomson - Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 2 (1733, No. 43, p. 4) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D fg|a3b afed|edef B3d|A>BAF A2 dA|F2 A>B A2 fg| a3d' afed|gfed B3d|A>BAF A2 de|f2 Te>d d2:| |:AG|F3A BABd|edef B3b|a>bag/f/ gfed|{ef}g2 fe e3a| fabc' d'3b|afed B2 fe|dBAF A2 de|f2 Te>d d2:|]



BIRKS OF INVERMAY. AKA - "Berks of Endermay (The)," "Birks of Endermay," "Birks of Envermay," "Scotland's First James." Scottish, Air (4/4 time). B Flat Major (Manson, McGibbon): D (Thomson, Thumoth): G Major (Jones). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The air to the very popular song of the same name was first published in William Thompson's Orpheus Caledoneus, vol. 2 (2nd edition, London, 1733), and subsequently appeared in many songsters and numerous song sheets. The melody appears in the McLean Collection, published by James Johnson in Edinburgh, 1772, ascribed posthumously to Mr. Charles McLean (though at strain 11 the gigue is credited to Robert McIntosh). It also appears in the McFarlane Manuscript (1740) without McIntosh's two strains, and in the "drawing room" style (Emmerson). In America, the melody was entered into numerous musicians' manuscripts, including the 1782 music copybook of Jeremiah Brown (Seabrook, New Hampshire), flute player Henry Beck's 1786 ms., among others.

John Glen, in Early Scottish Melodies (1900) records:

Stenhouse states that the tune is contained in Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius, but he neglects to mention in the second volmue, published 1733. He says also, Mallet wrote the two first stanzas of the song, beginning, " The smiling morn, the breathing spring," and directed them to be sung to a Scotch tune, " The Birks of Endermay." He affirms that " Eamsay inserted Mallet's song in the third volume of his Tea-Table Miscellany, whereas it appeared as the second song in the fourth volume." The air is not in any collection before 1733. It occurs in those of M'Gibbon and Barsanti, both published in 1742, as the "Birks of Envefmay," in Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion, book ii., as the Birks of Endermay, and in Brenmer's Scots Songs, 1757, who in the words, however, gives "Invermay." With the title of " The Birks of Invermay " it appears in Peacock's Scotch Tunes, 1762 ; the same as in the Tea-Table Miscellany. As Mallet's Poems, Thomson's Orpheus, and Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion were all published in London, we presume that " Ender " was more easily pronounced by the Southerns than Invermay, which is the correct form.

"Birks of Invermay" was the favourite song of Edinburgh poet Robert Fergusson (1750-74), reputedly sung by him as he was dying in the Edinburgh madhouse at the age of 24, from a head injury. Although several sets of words were set to the tune, the original lyric in Orpheus Caledoneus was by William Malloch (or Mallet), and begins:

The smiling Morn, the breathing Spring,
Invite the tuneful Birds to sing:
And while they warble from each Spray,
Love melts the universal Lay.
Let us, Amanda, timely wise,
Like them improve the Hour that flies;
And in soft Raptures waste the day,
Among the Birks of Endermay.

See also transcriptions under title "Berks of Endermay (The)."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 13. Jones [Ed.] (Complete Tutor Violin), c. 1815; p. 5. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book vol. 1), 1844, p. 132. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, Book II), c. 1746; p. 36. O'Farrell (Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes), 1797; p. 52. Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 2), 1733; No. 43, p. 4. Thumoth (Twelve Scotch and Twelve Irish Airs with Variations), 1742; No. 1, p. 2.

Recorded sources: -



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