Widow are Ye Waking?

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WIDOW ARE YE WAKING. AKA and see "Widow gin thou be waking?" Scottish, Slow Strathspey. E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The song is thought to be quite old, predating published variants of which there are several. The melody appears in Henry Playford's Original Scotch Tunes as "Widow gin thou be waking". "Widow are ye wakin'?" was reworked by Robert Burns for a song in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, Book 5 (Song 432, p. 444) and begins:

What is that at my chamber door?
Fair widow are ye waking?
Auld carl, your fruit give o'er,
Your love lies a' in tawking.
Gi'e me a lad that's young and tight,
Sweet like an April meadow;
'Tis sick as he can bless the sight,
And bosom of a widow.

"Cromek states that, according to Gilbert Burns, Robert's model was "The Auld Man's Best Argument" in Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany (1727), which an old widow, Jean Wilson, of Tarbolton, used to sing:--

O, wha's that at my chamber-door?
Fair widow, are ye wauking!
Auld carle, your suit give o'er,
Your love lyes a' in tawking, etc. ... [The Poetry of Robert Burns, 1901]

A melody by the similiar name "Widow art thou waking" was entered into the Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768) but it is a different tune.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 230. Gow (Complete Repository, Book 2), 1802; p. 7. Manson (Hamilton’s Universal Tune Book vol. 1), 1854; p. 138. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 3), 1760; p. 12. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum vol. 5), 1797; Song 432, p. 444.

Recorded sources:




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