Parting Glass (1) (The)

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X:1 T:Parting Glass [1], The M:C L:1/8 R:Air S:O’Neill’s Irish Music (1915) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Gmin d>c | B2 A>B G2 GA | BcdB c2 Bc | d2 g>=e f_edc | B2 G2 F2 d>c | B2 A>B G2 GA | BcdB c2 B>c | d2 g>e fedc | B2G2G2 || d>e | fefg fedc | d2g2g2 a>g | fedc BABc | d2 F2F2 d>c | B2 A>B G2 GA | BcdB c2 B>c | d2 g>e fedc | B2G2G2 ||

PARTING GLASS [1], THE (Deoc an Doruis). AKA and see "Good Night All Round," "Good Night and Joy be with Ye a' (1)," "Peacock (3) (The)." Scottish, Irish; Slow Air (4/4 time) or March (2/4 time). A Minor (Roche): A Mixolydian (O'Neill {1850}): G Minor (O'Neill {1915}). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. A beautiful air and song [1], sometimes played in modern times at the end of concerts or sessions, and for farewells, funerals or other occasions of loss (see "Parting Glass (2) (The)" for the more familiar modern version of the song air). The sentiment is an old one, however, for antiquarian William Stenhouse noted in 1839 that it "has, time out of mind, been played at the breaking up of convivial parties in Scotland." Later in the 19th century William Christie remarked that it was "still the last played at balls". The tune they referenced, however, is a different air than the one nowadays associated with the song (c.f. "Good Night and God Be with You"), and the words to the tune as well were similar but different, albeit expressing the same sentiment. The melody associated with the song in modern times is a fairly recent (late 19th century) marriage to the words, which themselves took their modern form fairly late as well. While modern words and tune were associated rather late, the modern tune can be traced to an 18th century publication by Glasgow musician James Aird, who called it "The Peacock."

Old versions of the lyric were published by David Herd in Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, vol. 2 (1776) and by Johnson in the Scots Musical Museum in the form of Robert Burns's song "Good night and joy be wi' you a' (3)." The modern lyric begins:

Of all the money e'er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm I've ever done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit
To mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

Although it has nothing to do with the title of this tune, which originally referred to the end of a convivial gathering, there is another, more macabre, meaning the title phrase carries. “The Parting Glass” or “Parting Cup” referred to an execution custom in 18th century England. On the way to the gallows at London’s Tyburn, the condemned would be allowed to stop at taverns along the way for what might be a number of “parting cups”—the opportunity was ample, for it was a two-hour trip from the prison in the gallows cart. The unfortunate would often share a drink with the hangman, again by custom. Combined with the fact that there was much drinking at Newgate Prison (also customary for the times), many condemned prisoners met their makers completely and thoroughly inebriated!

Additional notes

Printed sources : - O'Neill (O’Neill’s Irish Music), 1915; No. 35, p. 25. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 58, p. 10. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 1), 1912; No. 20, p. 12.

Recorded sources : - Tradition TLP 1032, The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem - "Come Fill Your Glass with Us" (1959).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's [3]
For a lengthy and excellent discussion of the origin and development of lyric and melody, see Jürgen Kloss's "Just another Tune: Some Notes on the History of 'The Parting Glass'" [4]

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