I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree (i)
DESCRIPTION: "I'll hang my harp on a willow tree, I'm off to the wars again." The singer's love is to be wed to one of higher degree. For her sake he gave up soldiering and became a minstrel, but after her wedding he will resume soldiering, hoping to die in battle
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1846 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: war infidelity wedding music harp
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE) Ireland Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (7 citations):
GreigDuncan6 1203, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
McNeil-SFB1, pp. 113-115, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Musick-Larkin 23, "Harp On a Willow" (1 text)
SHenry H155, p. 366, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord, pp. 56-57, "I'll Hang My Harp" (I text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 736, "Warrior's Grave" (1 text)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1008, p. 69, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree" (1 reference)
ST MN1113 (Full)
Bodleian, Harding B 17(134b), "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow T[ree]" ("I'll hang my harp on a willow tree"), The Poet's box (Glasgow), 1851; also Firth b.26(282), Firth c.16(354), Harding B 11(2611), "I'll hang my harp on a willow tree"; Harding B 15(136a), Harding B 11(1701), Firth b.26(220), "I'll Hang My Harp on the Willow Tree"; Firth b.27(227), "I'll Hang Up My Harp on a Willow Tree"
LOCSinging, as201530, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree," H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864; also as105930, as105920, as105910, sb20215b, "I'll Hang My Harp on a Willow Tree"
cf. "Brighidin Ban Mo Store" (theme)
NOTES: The earliest references to this piece seem to be from American sheet music: A copy of c. 1846 was printed in Philadelphia with an arrangement credited to Leopold Meignen. In 1848/9 it was published in Louisville, Kentucky and credited to Wellington Guernsey. A 1909 American text is effectively identical to the Sam Henry text of 1926, but with a noticeably different tune. Given that the song was found both in Ulster by Henry and in England by Ord, one must suspect British origin, but the matter is uncertain.
Ord heard a report that the singer in this song was involved with Queen Victoria before her marriage (allegedly at 17, i.e. in 1836/37, shortly before she took the throne). There is no external confirmation of this, and does not match his text of the song, since in the text, the love has golden hair. Also, he speaks of fighting the Saracen -- but by Victoria's time, the Saracen was replaced by the Turk, and the English were generally supporting the Turks against Russia. - RBW
Broadside LOCSinging as201530: H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
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