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Origins: The Parson boasts of mild ale

michaelr 08 Nov 08 - 10:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Nov 08 - 10:06 AM
masato sakurai 09 Nov 08 - 09:27 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Parson boasts of mild ale
From: michaelr
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 10:36 PM

This was posted on the Irtrad list; I thought I'd pass it on:


I wonder if any of you can tell me about the song called "The Parson Boasts
of Mild Ale". The air of it is in O'Neill, and a fine G minor 9/8 tune it
is; described as "air irlandais", it was arranged for violin, 'cello and
piano by Haydn in 1803 (Hob XXX1b/61). But I've not been able to find out
much about the song itself. It is attributed by some to Alexander Boswell
(1775-1822), son of Dr Johnson's biographer. Alexander is also the author
of "Jenny's Bawbee" and "Jenny Dang the Weaver", the tunes of which are also
in the Irish repertoire; but this song is not in the few published
collections of his verse that I've been able to find. Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Parson boasts of mild ale
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 10:06 AM

The publisher George Thomson commissioned Boswell, among others, to write verses to specified melodies. According to James Cuthbert Hadden (George Thomson: The Friend of Burns : His Life and Correspondence, 1898, 220-221) this air was previously called 'We'll Make a Bed in the Barn'; nobody seemed to be sure whether it was Irish, Scottish or English. Boswell thought the tune vulgar in despite of Haydn's arrangement, but supplied three verses for it: 'as few people sing more than one stanza ... an English, an Irish, and a Scotch stanza, which your vivacious friends may take ad libitum.'

Thomson apparently omitted the 'Scotch' stanza when printing it. Presumably 'The Parson boasts of mild ale' is the first line of the 'English' stanza. The rest I don't find at a cursory look, but it's probably out there somewhere. Hadden's book, which will provide plenty of contextual information (though no more, I think, about this particular song) can be seen in facsimile at the Internet Archive.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Parson boasts of mild ale
From: masato sakurai
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 09:27 PM

There is Thomson's version only in Aloys Fleischmann's Sources of Irish Traditional Music c.1600-1855, vol. 2 (Garland, 1998), no. 5413. "We'll Make a Bed in the Barn" is not in this collection.

X:1
T: The Parson Boasts of Mild Ale
M:9/8
L:1/8
S:Fleischmann, Sources of Irish Traditional Music, no. 5413
K:Bb
D|G2G GAB D2D|F2F cAF A/c3/2A|GGG GAB D2D|
G2G dBG B/d3/2 c|B2B B2d f2B|A2F FcB ABc|
BAG G2D G2G|dBG GAG B/d3/2 ||:c|B2B BBd f2B|
A2F FcB ABc|BAG G2 D/D/G2G|dBG GAG B/d3/2 z:||


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