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The
Parting
Glass

 

  The Parting Glass


The tune appears as early as the 1600s - in the Skene Manuscript, a collection of Scottish airs written at various dates between 1615 and 1635, and in the Guthrie Manuscript (c 1675 - Edinburgh University Library). It is also in Playford's Original Scots Tunes (1700).
Before Auld Lange Syne, this song was the most popular parting song in Scotland. It was printed on broadsides as early as 1770 and saw a resurgence of popularity in the late 1800s. Several copies of these broadsides can be found at the Bodleian Library.

It first appears in book form in the Scots Musical Museum (1803/4). It then appears in Scots Songs by Herd (1869).

It was known in part at least as early as 1605, when a portion of the first stanza was written in a farewell letter, as a poem now known as "Armstrong's Goodnight", by one of the Border Reivers executed that year for the murder in 1600 of Sir John Carmichael, Warden of the Scottish West March. [recorded in George MacDonald Fraser, Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, Harper Collins: London, 1995, ppg. 140-143].

Neil Gow, the celebrated Scottish fiddler, published a version of the tune as "Goodnight and Joy Be Wi' Ye A'" in the late 18th century, with the comment: "This tune is played at the conclusion of every convivial dancing meeting throughout Scotland."

The song is also known as Good Night and Joy Be With You All.

In Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, Peter Kennedy relates it to the Manx song Te Traa Goll Thie (It's Time to Go Home).
The song was made popular in the 1950's by the Clancy Brothers and has been known as an Irish song since then - they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ! Indeed, the list of songs below all show how the good parts are carried forward. Is any song truly original ?

Versions of the song -

A. The Parting Glass (first verse adapted from a verse by Robert Burns, see later)

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

Oh, all the comrades e'er I had, They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had, They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot, That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call, Good night and joy be with you all.

B. The Parting Glass - (verse 2 and 3 are sometimes switched in order, and verse 3 sometimes omitted - also many other variations occur with individual words)

Oh, all the money that e'er I spent, I spent it in good company,
And all the harm that ever I done, alas it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit, to memory now I can't recall,
So fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all

Oh, all the comrades that e'er I had, they're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts that ever I had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot, that I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and I'll softly call, Good night and joy be with you all

If I had money enough to spend and leisure time to sit awhile,
There is a fair maid in this town that sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips, I own she has my heart in thrall
So fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all

C. Good Night And God Be With You All
or The Neighbor's Farewell to his Friends
from a broadside circa 1770, as noted by Bruce Olson in ëScarce Songsí.

Now come is my departing time, And here I may no longer stay,
There is no kind comrade of mine, But will desire I was away.
But if that time will me permit, Which from your Company doth call,
And me inforceth for to flit, Good Night, and God be with you all.

For here I grant some time I spent, In loving kind good Company;
For all offences I repent, And wisheth now forgiven to be;
What I have done, for want of wit, To Memory I'll not recall:
I hope you are my Friends as yet, Good Night, and God be with you all.

Complementing I never lov'd, Nor talkative much for to be,
And of speeches a multitude, Becomes no man of quality;
From Faith, Love, Peace and Unity, I wish none of us ever fall;
God grant us all prosperity: Good Night, and God be with you all.

I wish that I might longer stay, To enjoy your Society;
The Lord to bless you night and day, And still be in your Company.
To vice, nor to inequity, God grant none of you ever fall,
God's blessing keep you both and me! Good Night and God be with you all.

The Friends Reply -

Most loving friend, God be thy guide, And never leave thy Company,
And all things needful thee provide, And give thee all prosperity;
We rather had thy Company, If thou woulds't have stayed us among;
We wish you much felicity: God grant that nothing doe thee wrong.

D - From Herd's 'Scots Songs'

O this is my departing time! For here nae langer maun I stay;
There's not a friend or foe of mine, But wishes that I were away.

What I hae done for lack o' wit, I never can recal!
I hope you're a' my friends as yet: Good-night and joy be wi' you a'

E - Good Night and Joy Be With You A'
(Alexander Boswell - last verse attributed to Robert Burns)

Good night and joy be wi' ye a', Your harmless mirth has cheer'd my heart
May life's fell blasts out o'er ye blaw!, In sorrow may ye never part!
My spirit lives, but strength is gone, The mountain fires now blaze in vain
Remember, sons, the deeds I've done, And in your deeds I'll live again

When on yoon muir our gallant clan, Frae boasting foes their banners tore
Who show'd himsel' a better man, Or fiercer wav'd the red claymore?
But when in peace then mark me there, When thro' the glen the wanderer came,
I gave him of our hardy fare, I gave him here a welcome hame.

The auld will speak, the young maun hear, Be canty, but be food and leal;
Your ain ills ay ha'e heart to bear, Anither's ay ha'e heart to feel
So, ere I set, I'll see you shine, I'll see you triumph ere I fa';
My parting breath shall boast you mine, Good night, and joy be wi' you a'.

This night is me departing night, For here nae langer must I stay:
Ther's neither friend nor foe o' mine, But wishes, wishes me away
What I have done thro' lack of wit, I never, never can recall;
I hope ye're a' my friends ae yet, Good night and joy be wi' you a'.

F - Armstrong's Goodnight

This night is my departing night, For here nae langer must I stay;
There's neither friend nor foe o' mine, But wishes me away.
What I have done thro' lack of wit, I never, never can recall;
I hope ye're a' my friends as yet; Goodnight, and joy be with you all!