From the recording Two To Get Ready
Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: lead vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither-Vaughan: vocals, fiddle
…our closing song is one of the most commonly sung songs out of the Celtic music songbook, originally of Scottish descent. There are two strains of this song. The first of the two has, as its earliest known version, according to Sir Walter Scott, “Armstrong’s Goodnight” – a farewell-letter in the form of two-stanzas supposedly written by Thom Armstrong, one of the Border Reivers, executed in 1605 for the murder (in 1600) of Sir John Carmichael, Warden of the Scottish West March. But T. F. Henderson correctly points out (in “Minstrelsy of the Scottish border”, 1902) that Sir Walter “…neglects to give his authority for this information”. There is simply no other reliable evidence that this fragment is in any way related to this incident and that is was ever known as “Armstrong's Goodnight”. This fragment was also found published in the Skene Manuscript – a compilation of melodies, written in tablature for the Gaelic harp, either for or by John Skene (Hallyards, Lothian) or his son William, probably around 1630. It appears again, only slightly reworked, in David Herd’s “Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, Etc” published in 1776. The second strain finds its first appearance as a broadside called “The Neighbours farewel to his friends” dated alternately as 1654 and 1670. It is a more-sophisticatedly-written five-verse affair, similar to the modern song only in meter and the last line of each verse (“Good Night, and GOD be with you all”). A variant of the Skene Manuscript melody was printed for the first time in a “Collection of Original Scotch Tunes” (Henry Playford, 1700), and in a subsequent handful of collections including “Part Second of the Complete Repository, of Original Scots Tunes” (Neil Gow, 1802). This tune was very popular for a long time. William Stenhouse notes (in “Scotish Musical Museum, Vol. 6”, 1839) it “has, time out of mind, been played at the breaking up of convivial parties in Scotland”…
Oh all the money that e’er I spent – I spent it in good company. And all the harm that e’er I’ve 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
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.
Oh all the comrades that e’er I’ve had are sorry for my going away, and all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had would wish me one more day to stay. But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not, I’ll gently rise and softly call, “Good night and joy be with you all.”