Peep o' Day (1)

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X:1 T:Peep o' Day [1] M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel S:Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D A |: (3.d.d.d (dA) BdAF | AFAg fdBc | (3.d.d.d (dA) BdAF | GFEF GABc | {e}d^cdA BdAF | ABde fdef | {a}gfge fedf | edce dAFA :| |: abaf afdf | gefd | edBe | afdf abaf | edef d2 (df) | afdf abaf | gbfa edBe | (3.d.d.d (dA) BdAF | ABde (fd) d2 :|]

PEEP O' DAY [1]. Scottish, Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The composition is attributed to "N. Gow" (Niel or Nathaniel), in William Bradbury Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883). Nigel Gatherer says he has been unable to find the tune in any of the Gow collections, leading to the conclusion the attribution by Ryan is erroneous.

The title is a reference to dawn, but held many-faceted meanings. The Peep o’ Day Boys [1] referred to Protestant gangs that terrorized the Ulster Catholic population in the late 18th century (who visited homes at dawn in search of arms or to give the message to leave and “go to Hell or Connacht”). Perhaps the title is a reference to the most popular title by Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer (1802-1878), an English writer in the mid 19th century, was The Peep of Day; or, a Series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the Infant Mind is Capable of Receiving, a children’s Bible primer. Published in 1833 when the author was aged 31, it was hugely successful and sold at least a million copies in thirty-eight languages, “including Yoruba, Malayalam, Marathi-Balbodh, Tamil, Cree, Ojibwa, and French”[1]. Mrs. Mortimer, however, was a particularly acerbic and opinionated writer, and sometimes downright sadistic. In the opening chapter of Peep of Day she writes (for children, remember!):

God has covered your bones with flesh. Your flesh is soft and warm. In your flesh there is blood. God has put skin outside, and it covers your flesh and blood like a coat…How kind of God it was to give you a body! I hope that your body will not get hurt.

Will your bones break?—Yes, they would, if you were to fall down from a high place, or if a cart were to go over them…How easy it would be to hurt your poor little body!

If it were to fall into the fire, it would be burned up…If a great knife were run through your body, the blood would come out. If a great box were to fall on your head, your head would be crushed. If you were to fall out of the window, your nick would be broken. If you were not to eat some food for a few days, your little body would be very sick, your breath would stop, and you would grow cold, and your would soon be dead.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 34. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 60.

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  1. see Todd Pruzan, “Global Warning,” The New Yorker, April 11, 2005, p. 34-41)