Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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Songs of Hopeless Love.
Grace, accomplishments, exquisite sensibility, benevolence, and devotion, all belonged to the character of Lady Anne Lindsay, authoress of " Auld Robin Gray." She was born at Balcarres, Fifeshire, Scotland, November 27, 1750, and was "the daughter of a hundred earls." Her father, at the time of her birth, was the representative of this long line, and his eldest daughter, Anne, received careful training in all that constituted the finished education of a gentlewoman of her day. Of course, music formed a large part of her cul­ture, and she very early wrote rhymes for her favorite airs, which never saw the light. At the age of forty-three, she married Andrew Barnard, Esq., son of the Bishop of Limerick, and secretary to the colony of the Cape of Good Hope. She accompanied him thither, where, after fifteen years of most happy life, her husband died. Lady Anne established herself with a sister, in a bouse in Beverly Square, London, where she died, May 6th, 1825. When Lady Anne was twenty-one, the sister with whom she afterwards lived, married and removed to London. Lady Anne was very lonely, and to amuse herself she composed ballads. Her mother had in the house, as attendant, an old woman, who sang the ancient melodies with fine effect. Among them was one called " The Bridegroom greets when the sun gangs down." There was also an old herdsman on her father's estate, named Robin Gray. In a letter written to Sir Walter Scott, in which she acknowledges her authorship, and gives the facts we have just recorded, she says: " I called to my little sister, now Lady Hard-wicke, who was the only person near me, ' I have been writing a ballad, my dear; I am oppressing my heroine with many misfortunes; I have already sent her Jamie to the sea, and broken her father's arm—and made her mother fall sick—and given her auld Robin Gray for a lover,—but I wish to load her with a fifth sorrow within the four fines, poor thing! Help me to one?' 'Steal the cow, sister Anne/ said the little Elizabeth. The cow was immediately lifted by me, and the song completed." She showed it to her mother and family friends under the promise of secrecy, and well did they keep faith with her; for, although after the song attained celebrity, her mother was very proud of it, she contented herself with reciting the words as anonymous to all within her reach. For fifty years the author's name was unknown to the world in general. She says that at first she concealed the fact of her being an author at all, " perceiving the shyness it cre­ated in those who could write nothing." During the time of this concealment, the song was sung in every corner of Scotland, and soldiers and sailors carried it to India and America. A romance was founded upon it by an eminent writer; it was made the subject of a play, and an opera, and a pantomime: it was claimed by others; a sequel to it waa written by some cobbler in rhyme, and it was at once printed as his production.
An intimate friend, who suspected the authorship, said to her, " By the by, Lady Anne, we have a very popular ballad down in Scotland, which everybody says is by you, 'Auld Robin Gray,' they call it. Is it yours?"