Here's a Health

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"Here's a Health to the Company" is an Irish traditional song, based in the long history of emigration from Scotland and Ireland. Its strong tune has also been used for other Irish traditional songs and for the American anthem, "The Liberty Song".

Origins and history[edit]

The song might be of Ulster origin, perhaps derived from a Scottish original. Robin Morton lists it in Folksongs sung in Ulster,[1] and Paddy Tunney learned the song from North Antrim singer Joe Holmes.[2] It is markedly similar to the Aberdeenshire song known as "The Emigrant's Farewell To Donside". Hugh Shields writes: "The song is quite well known in the northern counties of Ireland, and with varying text has been noted in Canada and Scotland, where it was perhaps composed."[3]

The use of the tune by the eighteenth-century American Liberty Song could reflect an association with Ulster Scots tradition, as most early Irish emigrants came from this community.

Its melody also resembles that of the whaler's sea chanty, "Farewell to Tarwathie."

Lyrics[edit]

There are several known variants on the lyric, but the set of words most frequently used today was popularised by The Chieftains who recorded the song on their 1989 album A Chieftains Celebration.

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
Come lift up your voices, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Chorus:
Here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Here's a health to the dear lass that I love so well
For her style and for her beauty, sure none can excel
There's a smile upon her countenance as she sits on my knee
There is no man in this wide world as happy as me

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again

Our ship lies at anchor, she's ready to dock
I wish her safe landing without any shock
If ever I should meet you by land or by sea
I will always remember your kindness to me

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry , all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again
[4]

In Modern Culture[edit]

The song has been recorded by many artists, including The Chieftains, Cara Dillon, the Brobdingnagian Bards, Blackmore's Night and Leah.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morton, Robin, Folksongs sung in Ulster 1970
  2. ^ http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=49309
  3. ^ Shields, Hugh, Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, 1981
  4. ^ http://www.kinglaoghaire.com/site/lyrics/song_613.html