Annotation:Mary's Dream (1)

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X:1 T:Mary's Dream [1] C:John Lowe (c. 1750-1798) M:C L:1/8 B:Johnson - Scots Musical Museum vol. 1 (1787, pp. 38-39) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:F#minor A>B|c2 F>G F2 AB|c>B c{e}d c2 AB|{A}c2 F>G F2 GA|BAGF E2 A>G| F3E E2 CE|A>B B>c/4d/4 {d}c2 BA|B<c e>f c3B|A2 TG>F F2|| c>e|f3e dcBA|B2 c>e e2 c>e|f3 e dcBA|A>B/4c/4 B/A/G/F/ E2 A>G| F3E E2 CE|A>B B>c/4d/4 {d}c3 B/A/|(B<c) e>f c3B|A2 TG>F F2||

MARY'S DREAM [1]. AKA - "Mary o' the Dee." Scottish, Air (whole time). E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. A very popular song and air of the last decade of the 18th century, printed in numerous period publications and musicians' manuscript collections. The song is credited to Scottish writer John Lowe (Kenmore, Galloway), who is said to have written it in 1772, to music by English composer John Rolfe (1763-1837). The eldest son of a gardener, Lowe improved himself and attended the University of Edinburgh as a Devinity student, and eventually found employment as the tutor of the children of Mr. M'Ghie of Airds, where he wrote a number of works of poetry, many lost. Mary was one of the daughters of the M'Ghie's, engaged to Alexander Miller, a surgeon, who was lost at sea. This sad event inspired the song "Mary's Dream". Lowe emigrated to America in 1778, in the midst of the American War of Independence, where he became the tutor to the brother of George Washington. He later became a minister in the Church of England and married a woman from Virginia, "whose gross misconduct broke his heat, and caused his untimely death, in 1798, in the forty-eighth year of his age." Versions of "Mary's Dream" in Scottish dialect, states George Farquhar Graham [Songs of Scotland, 1848, p. 55], supposedly an older form, were declared by C.K. Sharpe to be a forgery of Allan Cunningham. Mary M'Ghie was, as Stenhouse reports, "afterwards married to a very respectable gentleman, and died in England about two years ago" [i.e. about 1852].

It is also said (by Stenhouse) that the song is the work of transplanted Austro-Hungarian cellist and composer Christoff Schetky, who embraced Scottish society in the late 18th century, and who composed many works in the national idiom of his adopted country. However Graham notes: "...this however, is flatly contradicted by a member of Mr. Schetky's family, to whom the Editor referred the question." To be fair, Stenhouse noted there are two airs to the song, "Mary's Dream" and "New Set of Mary's Dream," and he credits Schetky with only the "New Set", so there is room for confusion. John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, p. 69) notes: "In the Scots Musical Museum there are two tunes given with the words of this song. The first is the composition of John Lowe...the second air belongs to a more modern school, and is not Scottish in character, while that of Lowe's composition is very pathetic, better suited to the song, and is an excellent Scottish melody in the minor key." So assimilated did Shetky become in his adopted country, and so jovial a company did he find, that he even founded in 1787 the 'Boar Club' at his favorite inn, Hogg's Tavern. The members of this convivial organization were all 'bores,' who 'grunted' their conversation in the comfort of their 'sty,' or room. The jar of punch became the 'pig', the old name for an earthenware crock.

Lowe's words begin:

The moon had climb'd the highest hill
Which rises o'er the source of Dee,
And from the eastern summit shed
Her silver light on tow'r and tree;
When Mary laid her down to sleep,
Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea;
When soft and low a voice was heard,
"Mary, weep no more for me."

Classical settings of the song were composed by both Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) and Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847).

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5), 1797; p. 59. Graham (Songs of Scotland), 1848; p. 55. Johnson (The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 1), 1787; pp. 38-39.

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