Lovely Lass to a Friar Came (2) (A)

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LOVELY LASS/NUN TO A FRIAR CAME [2], A (Cailín Deas Chum Brathar Tainic). Irish, Air (4/4 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The Irish collector Edward Bunting had the tune from the harper Denis Hempson (at Magilligan in 1796), who asserted it was an Irish melody learned from his first master (with variations in the octave above to signify a female voice speaking to a friar at confession, who replies in the lower octave); however, Bunting states in the introduction to his 1840 volume that the tune may not, in fact have originally been Irish, but that it was such a favorite with the old harpers and their audiences for so long and "the emphatic manner in which the fourth tone of the scale is used, seems to claim for it a high antiquity, and justifies the restoration of the air to its proper place among the melodies of Ireland." He records that variations were added by Lyons the harper in 1698. O'Sullivan finds the earliest reference to a variant of the tune printed in Bunting to be on an engraved single-sheet edition c. 1710, now in the British Museum. See also notes for Lovely Lass to a Friar Came (1) (A) and for the "Friar and the Nun (1) (The)."

Denis Hempson

Source for notated version: Bunting greatly admired the playing and repertoire of Hempson, an elderly man when the nineteen-year-old, hired to make some transcriptions at the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, first met him:

Hempson, who realized the antique picture drawn by Cambrensis and Galilei, for he played with long crooked nails, and in his performance, “the tinkling of the small wires under the deep notes of the bass” was particularly thrilling, took the attention of the Editor with a degree of interest which he never can forget. He was the only one who played the very old—the aboriginal—music of the country; and this he did in a style of such finished excellence as persuaded the Editor that the praises of the old Irish harp in Cambrensis, Fuller, and others, instead of being, as the detractors of the country are fond of asserting, the ill-considered and indiscriminate, were in reality no more than a just tribute to that admirable instrument and its then professors. ... [Bunting, Ancient Irish Music, 1840, Preface p. 3]



Printed sources: Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland), 1840; p. 104. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 142, pp. 198-199.

Recorded sources:




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