Minstrel Boy (The)
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MINSTREL BOY. AKA and see "Og-Laoc Na Rann." AKA and see "Lover's Lute (The)," "Móirín (The)," “Moirin,” "Moreen," "Then soldier come fill high the wine." Irish, Air (4/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The title is from a famous song set to the air, written by Thomas Moore first published in 1813 (in A Selection of Irish Melodies), though the original melody is, like many of Moore's pieces, set to an older tune called "Moreen" or (as George Petrie gave it) "Móirín." Moore's lyric begins:
The minstrel boy to the war has gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him.
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him.
"Land of song" said the warrior bard,
"Though all the world betray thee,
One sword at least thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee."
Charles Villier Stanford (in his 1895 edition of Moore's Irish Melodies) said that the melody "is a reel-tune, altered by Moore into a march," and although it is an older air, O'Neill gives source credit to fiddler and collaborator James O'Neill in his Music of Ireland (1903). The title appears in a list of tunes in his repertoire brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997). While mostly traditional in his repertoire, Goodman regularly played several novelty or 'popular' tunes. A modern rendition of the song is to be heard in the classic 1975 motion picture "The Man Who Would Be King." Danny Dravot (played by Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) sing the song when it becomes apparent that they will never see each other again. The rather simple melody is a staple of Irish Great-(Highland) Pipe bands.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 5: Mostly Irish Airs), 1985 (revised 2000); p. 13. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 203, p. 35. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1965/1981; p. 15.