The Parting Glass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

"The Parting Glass" is a Scottish and Irish traditional song, often sung at the end of a gathering of friends. It was allegedly the most popular parting song sung in Scotland before Robert Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne".[1] The song is also hugely popular in Ireland and amongst Irish communities.



The earliest known printed version was as a broadside in the 1770s and it first appeared in book form in "Scots Songs" by Herd.[1] An early version is sometimes attributed to Sir Alex Boswell. The text is doubtless older than its 1770 appearance in broadside, as it was recorded in the Skene Manuscript, a collection of Scottish airs written at various dates between 1615 and 1635.[2] It was known 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.[3]


The earliest known appearance of the tune today associated with this text is as a fiddle tune called "The Peacock", included in James Aird's A Selection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 2 (1782).[4]

Patrick Weston Joyce, in his Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909), gives the tune with a different text under the name "Sweet Cootehill Town," noting, "The air seems to have been used indeed as a general farewell tune, so that—from the words of another song of the same class—it is often called 'Good night and joy be with you all.'"[5] The celebrated Irish folk song collector Colm O Lochlainn has taken note of this identity of melodies between "The Parting Glass" and "Sweet Cootehill Town".[6] "Sweet Cootehill Town" is another traditional farewell song, this time involving a man leaving Ireland to go to America.

The tune appeared, with sacred lyrics, in 19th American tunebooks. "Shouting Hymn" in Jeremiah Ingalls's Christian Harmony (1805) is a related tune.[7] The tune achieved wider currency among shape note singers with its publication, associated with a text first known in the 1814 Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs, "Come Now Ye Lovely Social Band", in William Walker's Southern Harmony (1835), and in The Sacred Harp (1844).[8] This form of the song is still widely sung by Sacred Harp singers under the title "Clamanda".

Modern adaptations[edit]

The song Restless Farewell written by Bob Dylan and featured on The Times They Are a-Changin' from 1964 is heavily based on The Parting Glass.

In 1998, the traditional words were set to a new, slightly different melody by Irish composer Shaun Davey. In 2002, he orchestrated this version for orchestra, choir, pipes, fiddle, and percussion to commemorate the opening of the Helix Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland.


YearArtistReleaseNotes and/or Peak Chart Position
1959The Clancy Brothers and Tommy MakemCome Fill Your Glass with Us
1979Ronnie Drew (of The Dubliners)Together Again
1982Ryan's FancyIrish Love Songs
1985The Pogues"The Parting Glass" (single); 2004 re-release of Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
1998Steeleye SpanHorkstow Grange
1998Liam O'Maonlai and The Voice SquadRecording with an original melody by Shaun Davey for the closing titles of the movie Waking Ned Devine
2002Sinéad O'ConnorSean-Nós Nua
2003The TossersPurgatoryHidden track
2003Voice MaleApprovedBelgian all-male a cappella group
2004The Wailin' Jennys40 Days
2007Mark SeymourTitanic
2008The Holy SeaA Beginner's Guide to the Sea
2008The High Kings
2008Cara DillonHill of Thieves
2009The Spooky Men's ChoraleDeep
2010Luke MacfarlaneBrothers & Sisters (2006 TV series) Season 4 Episode 23
2010Loreena McKennittThe Wind That Shakes the Barley
2011Hannah PeelThe Broken Wave
2011Celtic WomanCeltic Woman: Believe
2011Ed Sheeran+Hidden track
2011The Felice BrothersGod Bless You Amigo
2011Bruce GuthroCeltic Crossing
2012Emily Kinney and Lauren CohanThe Walking Dead: AMC Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1Recorded for The Walking Dead.[9]
2013UCD Choral ScholarsThe Parting Glass (EP)
2013Sarah Greene (uncredited)Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag[10]Closing cinematic of the game's main story.
2014Peter HollensSelf-Titled


  1. ^ a b "The Parting Glass". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  2. ^ George Grove and John Alexander Fuller-Maitland. (1908.) Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Macmillan Company, p. 479.
  3. ^ George MacDonald Fraser. (1995.) Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, Harper Collins, London, pp. 140–143.
  4. ^ Some notes on the history of "The Parting Glass". Aird 1782 at IMSLP.
  5. ^ Joyce 1909, pp. 191f.
  6. ^ O Lochlainn, Colm. Irish Street Ballads, Pan, 1978, p. 225
  7. ^ "Shouting Hymn" in Ingalls's Christian Harmony
  8. ^ Prof. Warren Steel's page; "Clamanda" in The Sacred Harp (1991 revision).
  9. ^ "'The Walking Dead' Sisters Get Mournful on 'The Parting Glass' – Premiere". Rolling Stone. 13 October 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "'Assassin's Creed 4 Black FlagEnding Song 'Parting Glass' - AC4 Ending Song/Music - YouTube". Ubisoft. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 

External links[edit]