The Parting Glass

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



The "parting glass", or "stirrup cup", or "coupe d'etrier" was the final hospitality offered to a departing guest. Once they had mounted, they were presented one final drink to fortify them for their travels. The custom was practiced in Saxony and in several continental countries.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4]

Exact lyrics vary between arrangements, but they include most, if not all, of the following stanzas appearing in different orders:

The Parting Glass Lyrics[5][6]
1 Of all the money that 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 to you all

2 So fill to me the parting glass

And drink a health whate’er befall,

And gently rise and softly call

Good night and joy be to you all

3 Of all the comrades that e'er I had

They're sorry for my going away

And all the sweethearts that e'er I had

They'd wish me one more day to stay

4 But since it fell unto my lot

That I should rise and you should not

I gently rise and softly call

Good night and joy be to you all

5 A man may drink and not be drunk

A man may fight and not be slain

A man may court a pretty girl

And perhaps be welcomed back again

But since it has so ought to be

By a time to rise and a time to fall

Come fill to me the parting glass

Good night and joy be with you all

Good night and joy be with you all


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, p. 6 (1782).[7][8]

Robert Burns referred to the air in 1786 as "Good night, and joy be wi' ye a'." when using it to accompany his Masonic lyric "The Farewell. To the brethren of St. James's Lodge, Tarbolton".[9][10]

In 1800-1802, the song was incorrectly attributed to Joseph Hayden by Sigismund von Neukomm (1778-1858), who entered it in the Hoboken catalogue as "Good night and joy be wi' ye. Hob XXXIa 254. Mi mineur",[11] which text has been wrongly attributed to Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822).

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.'"[12] 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".[13] "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 century American tunebooks. "Shouting Hymn" in Jeremiah Ingalls's Christian Harmony (1805) is a related tune.[14] 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).[15] 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.

Actor Pierce Brosnan performed an a capella version of this song in the 2002 movie Evelyn

Actresses Emily Kinney and Lauren Cohan performed a rendition of this song in the season three premiere episode "Seed" of The Walking Dead (TV series). It also appears on the soundtrack, The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack – Vol. 1.

Ed Sheeran did a cover as a hidden track at the end of the last song "Give Me Love" on his album +.

Trey Anastasio Band started performing the song live in 2017.


Year Artist Release Notes and/or Peak Chart Position
1959 The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem Come Fill Your Glass with Us
1968 The Dubliners Drinkin' and Courtin'
1979 Ronnie Drew (of The Dubliners) Together Again
1981 Robin Williamson Songs of Love and Parting
1982 Ryan's Fancy Irish Love Songs
1985 The Pogues "The Parting Glass" (single); 2004 re-release of Rum Sodomy & the Lash
1994 John McDermott Old Friends A cappella
1994 Father, Son and Friends "Rebels, Rogues & Rascals"
1996 Poxy Boggards Bawdy Parts - Original and Traditional Songs of Drinking and Revelry
1997 Sarah McQuaid When Two Lovers Meet Unaccompanied but double-tracked: not the tune most commonly used
1998 Steeleye Span Horkstow Grange
1998 Liam O'Maonlai and The Voice Squad Recording with an original melody by Shaun Davey for the closing titles of the movie Waking Ned Devine
2002 Sinéad O'Connor Sean-Nós Nua
2003 The Tossers Purgatory Hidden track
2003 Voice Male Approved Belgian all-male a cappella group
2004 The Wailin' Jennys 40 Days
2007 Mark Seymour Titanic
2008 The Holy Sea A Beginner's Guide to the Sea
2008 The High Kings The High Kings
2008 Cara Dillon Hill of Thieves
2009 The Spooky Men's Chorale Deep
2010 Luke Macfarlane Brothers & Sisters – Season 4, Episode 23
2010 Loreena McKennitt The Wind That Shakes the Barley
2011 Hannah Peel The Broken Wave
2011 Celtic Woman Celtic Woman: Believe
2011 Ed Sheeran + Hidden track
2011 The Felice Brothers God Bless You Amigo
2011 Bruce Guthro Celtic Crossing
2012 Emily Kinney and Lauren Cohan The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack – Vol. 1 Recorded for The Walking DeadSeason 3, Episode 1[16]
2013 UCD Choral Scholars The Parting Glass (EP)
2013 Face Vocal Band How Was the Show Last Night
2013 Celtic Woman Celtic Woman: Emerald - Musical Gems
2013 Sarah Greene Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Sung by Anne Bonny (played by Sarah Greene) during the game's end credits.[17]
2014 Gregory Page Gregory Page – One Way Journey Home
2014 Peter Hollens Self-Titled
2014 Glen Hansard and guests Céilúradh at Royal Albert Hall
2014 Sven-Bertil Taube Hommage as "Ett sista glas", Swedish translation by Lars Forssell
2015 Damien Leith Songs From Ireland No.11 album in Australia
2015 Scythian Old Tin Can
2015 MacPiet Listen and RePiet
2015 Miriam Bryant Så Mycket Bättre 2015 as "Ett sista glas", Swedish translation by Lars Forssell
2016 Paul Kelly (Australian musician) Death's Dateless Night
2016 Siobhan Owen Entwined
2016 Alexander Armstrong Upon a Different Shore
2017 Trey Anastasio Band Live Phish Series various 2017 live shows
2017 Ye Banished Privateers First Night Back in Port Hidden track
2017 Dermot Kennedy Live performance
2018 The Hound + The Fox The Parting Glass - Single Youtube video


  1. ^ a b c "The Parting Glass". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Levett Hanson (1811). Miscellaneous compositions in verse / illustrated by occasional prefatory introductions, and copious explanatory notes. Copenhagen: J. F. Schultz. 
  3. ^ George Grove and John Alexander Fuller-Maitland. (1908.) Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Macmillan Company, p. 479.
  4. ^ George MacDonald Fraser. (1995.) Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, Harper Collins, London, pp. 140–143.
  5. ^ "Ed Sheeran - Parting Glass Lyrics | MetroLyrics". Retrieved 2017-06-11. 
  6. ^ "The Parting Glass Lyrics". Retrieved 2017-06-11. 
  7. ^ James Aird. A Selection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs. 2. p. 6. OCLC 43221159. 
  8. ^ Some notes on the history of "The Parting Glass". Aird 1782 at IMSLP, p. 6.
  9. ^ Robert Burns (1786). Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect. Kilmarnock: J. Wilson. p. 228. 
  10. ^ The Songs of Robert Burns : with music (Centenary edition ed.). Glasgow: D. Jack. 1859. p. 10. 
  11. ^ "[Good night and joy be wi' ye. Hob XXXIa 254. Mi mineur] anglais". Catalogue Général. 
  12. ^ Joyce 1909, pp. 191f.
  13. ^ O Lochlainn, Colm. Irish Street Ballads, Pan, 1978, p. 225
  14. ^ "Shouting Hymn" in Ingalls's Christian Harmony
  15. ^ Prof. Warren Steel's page; "Clamanda" in The Sacred Harp (1991 revision).
  16. ^ "'The Walking Dead' Sisters Get Mournful on 'The Parting Glass' – Premiere". Rolling Stone. 13 October 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Assassin's Creed 4 Black Flag - 'Parting Glass' Ending Song". 

External links[edit]