Sheep all in Clusters

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X:1 T:Sheep all in Clusters M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Air S:John Rook music manuscript collection (Waverton, Cumbria, 1840, p. 168) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G D|GBA Bcd|dge d2e|dBd cBA|G2z G/A/B| ABc dAA|GEG FGA|BAG FGE|DFF FAA|Add d2B| {B}AGF {A}GFE|D3 z2||d/B/|^GAB cde|FGA B2D| EcB cAG|!fermata!F2z D3|GBA Bcd|dge d2e| dBd cBA|.G.B.B .B.d.d|.d.g.g !fermata!g2e|dBd cBA|G3 z2||



SHEEP ALL IN CLUSTERS. AKA - "Corydon and Phillis," "Sheep had in Clusters Crept Close," "Sheep in Thy Clusters." English, Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The English lyric “Corydon and Phillis” was written by John Cunningham (1729-73), but appears in both sides of the Atlantic in numerous variants often taking the first line as its title. The song was first published in Dublin in The London Magazine as “Sheep in Clusters. A Particular Favourite Song” (446-48). The song became quite popular and was copied into manuscript songbooks and printed in songsters well into the nineteenth century, appearing in twenty-three songsters between 1780 and 1820 (Roud; R. Keller, Early American Songsters). “Corydon and Phillis” were literary commonplaces often used as subjects of pastorals that in the latter eighteenth-century period would be populated with lovers with such names as Jockey and Jenny. Cunningham's first stanzas go:

Her sheep had in clusters crept close by the grove,
To hide from the rigours of day;
And Phillis herself, in a woodbine alcove,
Among the fresh violets lay:
A youngling, it seems had been stole from its dam,
('Twixt Cupid and Hymen a plot)
That Corydon might, as he search'd for his lamb,
Arrive at this critical spot.

As through the gay hedge for his lambkin he peeps,
He saw the sweet maid with surprise;
“Ye gods! if so killing,” he cry'd, “when she sleeps,
I'm lost when she opens her eyes!
To tarry much longer would hazard my heart,
I'll onwards, my lambkin to trace:”—
In vain honest Corydon strove to depart,
For love had him nail'd to the place.

Alexander Wilson (1766-1816), in his poetical works, directs his song “Matilda” be sung to the air of “Her Sheep all in Clusters.” Likewise, Robert Tannahill directs his song “Though Humble My Lot” to the air “Her Sheep had in Clusters.” The song “Her sheep had in clusters crept close to a grove” appears in a number of late 18th and early 19th century songsters on both sides of the Atlantic. American publications include Samuel Campbell’s American Songster (New York, 1788), William Spotswood’s Vocal Remembrance (Philadelphia, 1790), Livingston’s Vocal Muse (Philadelphia, 1792), The Medley (Philadelphia, 1795), Isaiah Thomas’s Skylark (Worcester, 1795 & 1797), The Columbian Songster (New York, 1797), Daniel Wright’s American Musical Miscellany (Northampton, 1798), and The Nightingale (Dedham, 1800). In addition, the air appears in several American musicians’ manuscript copybooks of the period, including Luther Kingsley (Mansfield, Conn., 1795), John Turner (Norwich, Conn., 1788), Jonathan Shipley Copp (1799), and Wilkes Allen (1790-1801).

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