A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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46              A CENTURY OF BALLADS
A rather famous old love ballad of the period was "O Nanny, wilt thou gang with me?" the words of which were written by Bishop Percy. Robert Burns once said that he considered this song to be the most beautiful composition of its kind in the English language. The music was composed by Thomas Carter for Vauxhall. Carter was at one time musical director of the Royalty Theatre, Goodman's Fields, and wrote a number of songs and catches, besides a comic opera, Just in Time, which he wrote for Covent Gar­den Theatre. But the only other song of his that attained much popularity was the naval ditty " Stand to your guns," which has long since passed into oblivion.
Ben Jonson's delightful old song "Drink to me only," from The Forest, was originally set as a glee, the composer being unknown. Few of the older ballads have enjoyed more lasting popu­larity than this. Apropos of this famous old lyric, Ben Davies, the well-known tenor, told me rather an amusing story. It appears that when he was in Messrs. Boosey and Co.'s offices in New York, Mr. Maxwell, the head of the firm in that city, showed him a letter he had received from an American composer, asking whether Ben Jonson still wrote lyrics, as he admired his lyrics so much and would like to set some! " Drink to me only," by
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