Cupid’s Recruiting Serjeant

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CUPID'S RECRUITING SERJEANT. AKA and see "Island of Love." English, Country Dance Tune and Air (2/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Cupid's Recruiting Serjeant" is a song from a Cantata of the same name, dating (by some sources) possibly from c. 1720, but if so, revived often during the 18th century and published in song collections and broadsides most of which date from the 1770's on [Roud Broadside Index (B148848)].

Ye Nymphs and ye Swains, who are youthful and gay,
Attend to the Call, and be blest while you may;
Lads and Lassies hither come to the sound of the Drum,
I have Treasure in Store which you never have seen;
Then haste, let us rove to the Island of Love,
Where Cupid is Captain, and Venus the Queen.

The song was sung at Vauxhall Gardens later in the century:

During this period (1768-1790) the principal tenor was Vernon, who had taken Lowe's place in 1764. His repertoire seems to have been somewhat less conventional then that of his predecessor, and his gay and energetic manner rendered him popular in such songs as "English Padlock," the "Crying and Laughing" Song, and "Cupid's Recruiting Sergeant." He was a constant singer at Vauxhall until the end of the season of 1781. [Wroth & Wroth, The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century, 1896, pp. 308-310].

London publisher Thomas Skillern printed the tune under the title "Island of Love," taken from the lyric above, while Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson printed it in their Compleat Instructions for the Fife (London, 1786) and Compleat Tutor for the Hautboy (London, 1790). The melody appears as an untitled march in the 1833 music manuscript collection of Northumbrian piper Lionel Winship [1], and William Mittell (New Romney, Kent, 1799). In America, "Cupid's Recruting Serjeant" is to be found in the music manuscript collections of Peter Van Schaack Jr. (Kiinderhook, NY, 1820), Abel Shattuck (Colrain, MA, 1801), Luther Kingsley (Mansfield, CT, 1795), Henry Beck (1786), Benjamin Gardner (Marblehead, MA, 1788), and Thomas Nixon (Danbury, CT, 1776). In England, it can be found in the late 18th century music manuscript collections of William Mittell (New Romney, Kent) and of German immigrant John Baptist Malchair (1730-1812) ("Vol 3 The Third Collection of Tunes"), a talented watercolor painter, drawing teacher, and violinist. Malchair indicates he copied the tune "from Aird's collection."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 96, p. 34.

Recorded sources:




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