Annotation:I'm Sadly Thinking

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X:1 T:I'm Sadly Thinking M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air Q:"Slow and Plaintive" S:O'Neill - Music of Ireland (1903), No. 292 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:F c/B/ AG | F2 FG AA | {c}B2 AB cc | c2 Bc AF | G3 c/B/ AG | F2 FG AA | {c} B2 AB cc | f2 AB/G/ FE | F3 || G AA | _e2 d=e fc | c2 BA BA | G2 ec BA | G3 c/B/ AG | F2 FG AA | {c}B2 AB cc | f2 AB/G/ FE | F3 ||

I'M SADLY THINKING (Ta Me ag Smuaireanac). AKA and see "Deserter's Meditation (The)." Irish, Air (3/4 time, "slow and plaintive"). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The air was employed for John Philpott Curran's song "The Deserter('s Meditation)", not to be confused with "Deserter (The)" AKA "Bold Deserter (The)" printed by O'Neill (MOI 291). "I'm sadly thinking" is the first line of Curran's song. Paul de Grae[1] relates that Curran was a barrister traveling the Munster circuit, who chanced to meet a deserting soldier around the year 1786, giving him a lift in his coach and gifting him a meal. Curran pointed out that desertion was a capital offense and that the chances that the soldier could escape execution for long were small; he asked if the man planned to spend the remainder of his time in penitence or merry-making. The song is Curran's rendering of the reply, set in verse, and begins:

If sadly thinking, with spirits sinking,
Could more than drinking my cares compose,
A cure for sorrow from sighs I'd borrow
And hope to-morrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there's nought availing,
And Death unfailing will strike the blow,
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

The song, according to Curran's mid-19th century biographer, Henry Hudson, was set to "a plaintive Irish air", the name of which was not given.

De Grae notes that it was one of the Irish songs arranged by Beethoven, having been commissioned by Edinburgh publisher George Thomson, and can be found in "25 Irische Lieder" [WoO 152].

Additional notes

Printed sources : - O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 292, p. 51.

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  1. Notes on the Tunes in the O'Neill Collections" (2011), remarks for MI 292.