Gentle Maiden (The)

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GENTLE MAIDEN, THE (An Maigdean Ceannsa). AKA and see "When the South Wind Blows," "Is Fada Annso Me" (I am a long time here), "It is my deep sorrow," "Long am I Here," "Men of the West (2)," "Bare-Headed Poor Old Man (The)," "Owen Coir." AKA - "Gentle Maid." Irish; Slow Air (6/8 time) or Waltz (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Laufman, O'Neill): AA'BB' (Matthiesen). Bunting (1840) gives two titles for the tune, one in Irish and one in English; O'Sullivan (1983) suggests the original words were in Irish from a note in Bunting's MS. The variants "It is my deep sorrow" and "Owen Coir" are to be found in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society (volume X, pp. 10 and 21, respectively), while the variant "Bare-Headed Poor Old Man (The)" is from a MS of Bunting's (MS 5, p. 52 & MS 12, book I). The tune can be heard in instrumental air versions, as a waltz and as a song air (e.g. "Mavourneen's the Flower of Killarney"). North American versions tend toward mostly waltz versions, especially among contra and Cape Breton musicians, and (annoyingly to some) a staple of the hammered dulcimer repertoire. It is also in Northumbrian pipe repertoire (e.g. recorded by Billy Pigg)

A song set to the melody was recorded by John McCormick in 1940 and later by Frank Patterson. The words go:

There's one that is a pure as an angel,
As fair as the flowers of May,
They call her the gentle maiden
Wherever she takes her way.
Her eyes have the glance of sunlight,
As it brightens the blue sea wave
And more than the deep sea treasure
The love of her heart I crave.

Though parted afar from my darling,
I dream of her everywhere,
The sound of her voice is about me,
The spell of her presence there.
An whether my prayers be granted,
Or whether she pass me by,
The face of the gentle maiden
Will follow me till I die.

"Gentle Maiden" was among a selection of tunes from the Petrie collection set for string quartet by British composer William Alwyn (1905-1985) in his "Seven Irish Tunes" (1923), later, in 1936, rearranged for a small orchestra (the other selections "Little Red Lark (The)," "Country Tune," "Ewe with the Crooked Horn (3) (The)," "Maiden-Ray (The), "Sigh (The)" and a "Jig").

Source for notated version: the Irish collector Edward Bunting obtained the melody from Miss Murphy of Dublin in 1839 [Bunting].

Printed sources: Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland), 1840; No. 148, p. 108. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 1), 1858; No. 54, p. 22. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 5: Mostly Irish Airs), 1985 (revised 2000); p. 3. Laufman (Okay, Let's Try a Contra, Men on the Right, Ladies on the Left, Up and Down the Hall), 1973; p. 23. Matthiesen (Waltz Book I), 1992; p. 25. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 282, p. 49. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 148, p. 205 (appears as "Is Fada Annso Me").

Recorded sources: F&W Records 4, "The Canterbury Country Orchestra Meets the F&W String Band." Front Hall FHR-023, Michael, McCreesh & Campbell - "The Host of the Air" (1980). Green Linnet SIF-1084, Eugene O'Donnell - "The Foggy Dew" (1988).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [3]




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