My Apron Dearie

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MY APRON DEARIE. AKA - "My Apron, Deary," "My apron now," "My sheep I neglected." Scottish, Air (3/4 time). C Major (most versions): A Major (Davie, Mulhollan). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Davie, Mulhollan): AABB. Instrumental versions were published as early as 1724 in Alexander Stuart's Musick for Allan Ramsey's Collection of Scots Songs (Edinburgh, Part III, pp. 66-67). Early printings also appear in Adam Craig's Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes (Edinburgh, 1730, p. 32), James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (London, 1760), Francis Peacock's Fifty Favourite Scotch Airs (London, c. 1762), and Joseph Hill's Compleat Tutor for the German Flute (London, c. 1762).

The song (of seduction) also was published early in the 18th century, and can be found as "My apron now" in John Watts' The Musical Miscellany, vol. 3 (London, 1730), "My Apron, Deary" (Song 32) in William Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 1 (1733), John Osborn's The Lark (1740), and printed on various song sheets. Later in the century it appears in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, vol. 1 (1787). Composer Joseph Haydn composed a classical setting of the song [Hob. XXXia:189bis]. The lyric begins:

'Twas forth in a morning, a morning of May,
A soldier and his mistress were walking astray;
And low down by yon meadow brow,
I heard a lass cry, "My apron now!

O had I ta'en counsel of father or mother,
Or had I ta'en counsel of sister or brother!
But I was a young thing, and easy to woo,
And my belly bears up my apron now.

Thy apron, deary, I must confess,
Is something the shorter, tho' nothing the less;
I only was wi' ye a night or two,
And yet you cry out, my apron now!

Stenhouse, who declined to print Ramsey's song because of the indelicate lyric, nontheless discussed it in his Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry and Music of Scotland (1853, p. 97). He maintains the tune is "a native of the south", i.e. the Lowlands. The simple version of the tune, the antiquarian points out, was "one simple and elegant strain," of sixteen bars. Adam Craig first added the second part, "but it is only a slight variation of the subject of the original strain."

Manuscript versions include the [James] Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768), and, in America, Andrew Wilson's 1782 commonplace book and Whittier Perkins' (Massachusetts) 1790 commonplace book.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: J. Davie & Co. (Davie's Caledonian Repository, vol. 4), c. 1829; p. 36. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, book III), 1762; p. 88. Mulhollan (Selection of Irish and Scots Tunes), Edinburgh, 1804; p. 49. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 4), 1760; p. 13.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Read Mudcat discussion of the lyric [1]




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